Holiday Musings…


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The holidays are always the most interesting time of the year. All of us grew up in the enchantment of Christmas; a time where for a short period it was about the other people and not ourselves. People were a little nicer; a bit more compassionate; more kind to their fellow man. As children, most of us experienced the magic whereby we could hardly sleep in anticipation of the gifts we would receive on Christmas day. It was the one day when all of our dreams might come true. As we got older, we rightfully accepted our duty to produce that same feeling in our children and the people whom we loved. How glorious! How beautiful! How grand! No matter your beliefs, no matter your background, no matter your upbringing, Christmas was always a special time reserved for families and dear friends. Then, just like that, the holidays were over and we grudgingly returned to life as usual. The time for giving had eclipsed and it was back to the pursuit of number one. Maybe there is a lesson in Christmas? Holiday musings are in order.

What is it concerning Christmas that works so powerfully to change our views about people? Many say that Jesus is the reason for the season. But, is he? Most bible scholars will freely admit that the birth of Christ did not occur in December at all. More appropriately, Jesus is the reason for all seasons. The very idea of a man that lived for others; that sought the good of others above himself; the determination and drive to bring about God’s will in all situations; the enduring love and willingness to heal all that were oppressed under the burdensome hand of the devil, this was the life of our savior, this was God’s perfect man. In many ways, he exemplified the concept of Christmas in that his focus was the happiness and deliverance of others. He didn’t live this way for a month or so according to tradition, he lived this way his entire adult life. He was God’s representative on earth and as such he came only to do good for all that needed him, both in his present time and throughout the future. Perhaps the good feelings of Christmas, whether based on the pleasant memories of our past or based on a change of our perspective in the present, remain to teach us a valuable lesson; continue to exist to offer a small taste of the life that God intended for us, a time where everyday is Christmas at our house.

Christmas is a time when we finally let our preoccupation with ourselves go and turn our focus outward. We joy and rejoice in the intended effect our gifts will have on those we love. We think of all the people we embrace and look for ways to express our love for them. Instead of carelessly glossing over and taking for granted those we hold most dear, we seek rather to honor them no matter the cost, so that our love for them is increasingly evident. For us, it’s not about the money, the expense, but instead it’s about actively seeking their good, their blessing; their hearts. In this, we taste the goodness of God and experience for ourselves the true intention and heart of our Creator. We learn, even if for a relatively brief time, that it is more blessed to give than receive and that in giving from the heart our hearts are satisfied and blessed. We touch on the grand design and for a short respite forget ourselves. Oh the blessing and delight that Christmas represents.

Christmas is a time when we draw back from the hustle and bustle of life and recommit ourselves to our people. We finally take a break, a much needed break from the rat race and endless striving for something we don’t have, and settle down to our base, our foundation, our happy place of family. And,  though far from perfect, our place of safety, blessings and love. We stop trying to make our family into something they are not and instead embrace them for who they are, good and bad, because we love them. We share our fondest memories and remember how we all waited in gleeful anticipation for the great day that was on the horizon. In some way, we all tasted and felt how good life could be and we embraced it with all of our hearts. Christmas, steeped in tradition and a conglomeration of many ideas and beliefs, still served to teach us a different way; a way based on looking for the good in others instead of the bad in ourselves. And, every year we are blessed with that same pleasant reminder of how good life can be.

This Christmas, no matter your beliefs or upbringing, let yourself experience the love and blessings that your family and friends supply for you. Don’t let the moment escape you. Don’t fret yourself over something you cannot afford or worry yourself with meeting every demand. What your children will remember most is not the Xbox or the the new car, but instead the love you shared with them during the season of goodness and love. The love you felt and recall so fondly is the love they will remember as well. Put the Christmas music on. Watch the Hallmark movies. Serve up the hot chocolate in your pajamas reserved for the holiday season. Drink wine, bake cookies, make the place as festive as you can for in so doing, you encourage the love and goodness you enjoyed that lives on until this day. Ahh it is Christmas time and the love of God is all around you. Embrace it. It’s Christmas…

Just some good thoughts.

How to Maximize Your Joy During the Holidays… It Aint About You!


OCC-3This time of the year is often an emotional roller coaster of feelings that surge to incredible highs and sadly to overwhelming lows. Whether the holidays remind us of times long past or joyful present moments, there seems to be a common component at the heart of it all.  That my friends, is the subject of this blog. So the million dollar question?  How can we make the most of the holiday season and maybe even, how can we have some of that joyful experience others seems to be enjoying?

I vividly remember how I felt at Christmas when I was a youngster.  People seemed nicer then usual.  Folks were a little more patient; a little more forgiving and had no problem giving out their love regardless of the receiver. Then, there were those Christmas gifts.  One Christmas Eve I woke up in the wee hours (as usual) and caught my Dad assembling a bike (for me)!  That’s when I learned that Santa was black, hahaha – I digress!  You see, as a young person your focus for the holidays is all about what you are going to get.  That’s not unusual, that’s childhood.  But there comes a time when your focus changes from what you can get, to what you can give.  When our children were very young we did the thing that all parents want to do.  We went hog-wild on buying presents.  We went wayyyyy overboard!  We carefully constructed the “gift stacks” like I remembered from childhood and gleefully anticipated the joy we would see on their faces.  And wow, did we see it! But here’s the interesting part for me.  I felt (and still feel) more incredible joy over what I can do to make others happy than I’ve ever felt when it was all about me.

Now we are on to something, wouldn’t you say?  One of life’s greatest paradoxes is that it is “more blessed to give than to receive.”  Oh, receiving is awesome for sure (it doesn’t say it is bad to receive and good to give-it says more blessed!)  Blessed means happy.  What you get in life is a blessing, but what you can give produces more blessings. God, who carefully planned human interactions and relationships, built into us (on purpose) a happiness meter that goes off the charts when we take time to give to other people.  And contrary to what the cynics say, giving isn’t about what is in it for me, it’s about what is in it for them (true giving anyway).  I should add that giving doesn’t always mean buying stuff for people either.  Giving is imparting something of yourself for the simple purpose of making someone else happy. Kind words make people happy. Pointing out people’s good qualities makes them happy. Taking time to be a listening, non-judgmental ear for another person encourages their happiness.  In fact, anything you give from your heart, whether it be well received or not, will always benefit your heart.  It is the very essence of being a human being.  Consider the life of Jesus Christ.  He spent his whole life putting others first (his whole life) and yet was able to say that he endured all of the suffering that he went through “for the joy that was set before him.”  

When we were young life was truly all about us, but when we got older we learned (hopefully) that life wasn’t all about us.  The reason so many folks are struggling or depressed or are unhappy or not contented is because they have fallen into the trap called “it’s all about me.”  “I don’t have this or I deserve that or when is it my turn or if I don’t look out for me who will(?)” is really an indicator that we have lost our way and forgotten how life really works.  I mean what motivates a mother or a father to spend their last penny or work themselves to the bone in order to buy their child that XBox or those shoes or send them on that trip?  Love does… which expresses itself through giving.  God so loved that He gave, remember?  So if you really want to experience that joy you see others enjoying, you have to get yourself into that giving mindset.  Yes folks, you have to be willing to put yourself and all of your “stuff” aside for a bit and focus on helping someone else.  I don’t mean on the surface, I mean from your heart.  I know, I know, it doesn’t seem like you will get your needs met this way, but trust me, it works 100% of the time!

So, when you get together with your family this holiday season (or anyone you care for, for that matter) decide right now that instead of focusing on how uncle Joe always smells or how your Mom gets on your last nerve (no, not my Mom she is awesome!) or how your sister is going to hit you up for money, instead decide to focus on what you can do to make that other person’s day a little brighter, a little better, a little more warm than usual.  Just do it!  And before you know it, you will find yourself right smack dab in the middle of that joy you were looking for all along.

How can you maximize your joy during the holidays?  Give! Not till it hurts, but until that other person stops hurting (at least while they are with you)!  You can make that kind of impact and (smile) you should…  I learned a long time ago that helping other people truly gave me the most joy and although I still sometimes fall into it being all about me, whenever I recall that it aint about me, things start changing almost immediately.

I hope your holiday times are the best they have ever been and I hope you remember why…

These are just some holiday good thoughts… 🙂

 

 

The Perilous Conclusion of the Negative Event…


photo-disaster2  If you live long enough you are going to, at one time or another, experience some negative event that has the capacity to shake your foundation and cause you to question your beliefs.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  There you were living your life, building your dreams, planning your future, then some dastardly scenario played out and stopped you in your tracks.  Suddenly you left behind all of your innocency; your child-like believing and questioned whether or not God really existed.  After all, how could God have allowed that thing to happen to you?  Why didn’t God step in and intervene in your life?  And, after some period of suffering you drew a perilous conclusion, namely that God must not exist and if He did exist, He surely must not be as good or as faithful as He reported…  And now, well, you are still pretty angry with God for some thing He didn’t do; didn’t prevent; didn’t handle when it needed to be handled.

Sadly, there is a reality in life that most folks are loathe to contemplate.  The reality is that there are evil forces at work in the world and those forces are behind every negative thing that ever happened to you or to someone that you love.  Now that doesn’t mean that you are evil; had it coming or were punished for being a sinner.  What it means is that evil makes no allowances for anyone and if it can get involved to bring about disaster, it will.  Have you ever noticed how many people are tragically killed or kill themselves at Christmas or some other treasured family time?  Evil seeks to multiply its effects and bring hurt to not just one, but many people at once.  Evil has been functioning in the world almost since the world began and in order to be successful relies not on what you do know, but on what you don’t know.  Like the great line in the movie, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist!”

So you have to ask yourself, what do you really know about God?  I don’t mean what your church says, or grandma says or what your friends say.  What do you know for sure?  For example, did you know that in order for God to get involved in your personal life that He requires belief on your part?  Did you know that God will never overstep anyone’s freedom of will in any situation, ever?  Did you know that God is love and light and in Him is no darkness at all?  Did you know that God not only saw that “big negative event” coming, but also had a solution for it if you (or whoever was involved) would have believed that He did and acted on it.  Believing isn’t some casual thing we throw around when events are going well, yet abandon when we are confronted with a disaster!  Believing comes from having a clear understanding of Who God is; what He can and will do; and what His good desires are for our lives, as well as understanding what evil is doing to try and stop those good things from coming to pass.  Belief in God is not some casual thing that takes place in the back of our minds and the back of our lives.  Belief is an active thing that we carry into every situation.  Belief is in the front of our minds, consistently present, here right now to see us through the obstacles and trials of life.  No evil force can begin to stand against God’s power, but in order to see God’s powerful solutions we must convince our minds of His goodness and not allow the negatives of the world to talk us out of it.

You see, what really happened to you when “that thing” occurred was that evil plotted and planned and schemed and proceeded to punch the living crap out of you with the intent that you would abandon your beliefs and opt for some other philosophy that promised you well-being and peace and love, yet would be void of any real power when you needed it most.  Evil is no joke folks.  People, in some cases, spend the entire rest of their lives suffering the pain of that one thing and never recover.  Pretty treacherous, wouldn’t you say?  Hit someone with a hay-maker they never saw coming, then get them to abandon their beliefs that could serve to protect them from getting hit by evil again.

My friends, don’t let that describe you.  Don’t let that negative, painful scenario dictate anymore of the moves you make in your life.  Accept the truth that you, like all of the rest of us, got deceived and set up and maybe lacked the believing necessary to receive God’s miraculous solution in the situation.  That’s not God’s fault, it’s our fault because what we didn’t  know did hurt us, but it doesn’t have to keep hurting us!  We need to get to the place where we can say what Job said as he recovered from his own disaster:

I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.  ~ Job 42:5

You can live out the rest of your days with joyful expectation of deliverance from any dreadful scenario that ever held you back.  “God is always the victor over evil, but it is up to you to make His will, your will.”  It’s time to draw a new conclusion folks, that God is only good, always and that He is never going to change!  That’s something you can bank on for a lifetime; the rest of your lifetime…

Just some good thoughts…