Open Wide Your Heart…


heart openUs human beings have this uncanny approach to life whereby we tend to acclimatize ourselves to our surroundings and habituate a large portion of our existence. When we were young, everything was new and exciting. There was a whole world out there to explore and we looked forward with excited anticipation to where we might find our place in the world. Then life happened and we stopped looking. We traded in our thirst for adventure for the familiar and the well known. As the years passed, unbeknownst to us, we began to put limits on our options and settled in for the mundane. We became slaves to our habits and developed a fixed mindset; a mindset that has little space for the unfamiliar, leaving us with a little too much familiar. The days became longer and longer and our new activities became less and less. Our quest for learning slowed to a standstill and much less our capacity for spontaneity. We just go too old and too afraid of the unknown. In this we closed our hearts off to life and suffered as a result of it. Life was never meant to be endured or survived, but rather a place for endless learning and new adventures. The reason we lost track of that life is because we let our hearts get hard, closed off from the true experience of living. Life never changed, we did. Open wide your hearts!

Living life absent the truth of God’s Word subjects our hearts to a host of wrong ideas, fears and hurts. In defense, or in an attempt at defense or self preservation, we learned to close off our hearts. The world can be a scary place and an open heart feels vulnerable and subject to pain. That same world taught us to harden our hearts, to lessen risk wherever possible and to play it safe. We were told to content ourselves with the mediocre and be thankful simply to be alive as opposed to really living. We thought we were getting wiser, but in actuality were being talked out of life. One by one our happinesses and enjoyments were curtailed in favor of the responsible existence. The messages, “watch out now” “be careful” and “be safe” became our new mantra. Young folks rarely make such statements as the world has not yet convinced them of the danger in everything. And while being reckless has its own painful lessons, adhering to nothingness is even worse. How do you get to the place where you go to work for someone else’s dream, exert your energy for that dream, then come home, go to bed and wake up to do it all over again? You can’t do anything fun on a weeknight because it is a weeknight. God forbid you go to work a little sleepy. Any fun that there is, is reserved for a few hours on the weekend. There’s not a category of life that hasn’t been diminished by some expert or had its dangers extolled and repeated. In this people cease to live and end up enduring the hours of their remaining life. 

The culprit most famous for closing hearts is always fear. Fear closes off all the outlets until all that is left is you stuck inside alone. One by one, fear takes something from you until you have nothing left. Fear steals your fun, your thirst for life, your love of learning, your energy, your time, your enthusiasm and your health. Fear always limits your options. Fear makes you choose three things instead of a hundred things. Fear sets your prosperity limits and your means to enjoy your life. Fear makes you poor both metaphorically and literally. Fear is behind the boredom you endure because it talked you into what you can and cannot do, always emphasizing what you cannot do! In a life so full and rich, with so much infinite variety of experience, there is always, always so much more. You don’t see it nor can you experience it because of your fear. Open wide your heart by getting rid of fear. 

The only way to life is to seek out the Author of Life. Don’t waste your time with religion or any practice that always aims at you and your imperfections. Instead seek Him who is perfect. Seek the very source of life and experience. And in order to find Him, though He be not very far from any one of us, you have to open your heart. You have to be willing to learn something new. You have to be just as willing to unlearn that great edifice of error that has been built into your mind. You have to rid yourself of fear with all that you are. You have to learn a new and a living way. Every one of your lost pleasures and your lost treasures can be found in Him. He knows the person you really are and all that He put into your heart to do. You have a purpose and your life has meaning, deep rich, enduring meaning. There is vastly more life to live than you have days left to live. You just have not yet been able to see it. What questions have long plagued your heart? What things do you so desperately need? What needs His restoration and healing power? Riches and honor are in His left hand and in His right hand, pleasures forevermore. Open wide your heart. 

The path to the life you wish to live runs through your heart. Open it back up again and let it heal. Give out that love and kindness you have inside and don’t reserve it only for the little ones. Be a wave of warmth and goodness to the people you meet and let your light shine. Be lavish in your praise and hearty in your approbation. (Thanks Dale Carnegie). Be the goodness you want to see in the world. Be the person, hurting people need the most and be it with your whole heart. All that you could have ever wished for in your life will come through your open heart. Open wide your heart…

Just some good thoughts. 

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Slow Down and Pay Attention…


how-to-slow-down-time-1_0ce709aLogic would seem to dictate that the faster you go, the further you would travel. However, life doesn’t really function that way. It seems we have all gotten it into our heads that speed equals progress. We fly through our responsibilities in an incessant effort to get more things done. We but half recognize what is going on as we add more and more to our “to-do” lists. We don’t enjoy the present moment because we are always looking down the road for the next set of requirements. In the end, we pay a price for our lack of focus, no longer able to detect important details. We miss life; our only life and trade away the beauty of the moment for some future day when we will finally be able to relax. In this, we need to slow down and pay attention.

Often when we get in a hurry at work, we miss important details; things we would see if we weren’t moving too quickly. We botch the project of the week by trying to get it done too fast. At home, we skip through important responsibilities or necessary tasks in favor of doing something else. We fail to see what the situation requires of us and barge ahead oblivious. All of these missed items take a toll on us and before we know it, we find ourselves worn out and dissatisfied. It never quite dawns on us that everything we let go, presumably from an absence of enough time, remains behind nagging at us and taking away our peace of mind. All of us have enough time to do what we really need to do, but we allow our time to be stolen away by frivolity and endless distractions. It is no wonder the people of today are so full of anxiety and distress. Their minds are a literal battlefield of unfinished business, so much so that they don’t know where to start to set it aright.

Life was never intended to be lived so fast. Living too fast and adding in too much extraneous activity leaves our minds threadbare and exhausted. This usually leads us to more distractions and attempts at medicating ourselves through a variety of means. Eventually our minds, overloaded and confused, feel the weight and begin to skew our emotions rendering us agitated and upset, easily provoked and manipulated. We have trouble problem solving and even the simplest of requirements overwhelm us. The solution isn’t to work harder and drive ourselves further. The solution is to take the time to slow down and handle the things we have, in ignorance, let go. We have to give ourselves an opportunity to relax and recover. We must take time to rest. It’s not noble to work so frenetically that we have little time left for ourselves. Otherwise, the obvious consequence will be found in the distress we are feeling. Internal distress informs us of the need to slow down and recognize what is actually going on. We need some time to think about what we have been thinking about. Bashing forward like a bull in a china shop does nothing but leave us damaged and in a worse state. When things are bugging you, you don’t overcome them by charging ahead no matter the cost. Instead, you have to give yourself some quiet time to begin discerning what is actually going on. As you endeavor to look back at where you have been, you will find clarity and begin to understand what you let go; what you failed to handle; where you brushed past something important and will be able to secure the remedy so much more easily.

We live our lives through our minds. No matter the reality of a circumstance, you live that circumstance through your mind. Life becomes miserable or enjoyable by what you put through your mind. Negative thoughts, fearful thoughts burden your mind down adding weight artificially. Self condemning thoughts convince you, you are something you are not and as a result, hamper your ability to process things properly. Everything you let go, that needed to be properly addressed, stacks on top of itself rendering you confused and distraught. It’s not one problem or difficulty that is defeating you, it is compound difficulties, multiple agitations, numerous unresolved slights banding together to overwhelm and overtax you. You wouldn’t feel so confused if you were only dealing with one marauder. And, the only reason this happens to us is because we have failed to take the time we needed when we needed it, to get things straight. To be your best self, you need to keep things straight. That voice in your head that never has anything good to say about you is only silenced one good thought at a time. Letting it speak unchecked and unchallenged is why you feel unhappy and why you are not at peace. You have to slow down and pay attention.

There is something marvelous about doing things properly and in the right way. We don’t have to be perfect, but we do have to apply our full hearts and our full focus. And focus only comes as we eliminate the distractions, one by one until they are gone. We owe that to ourselves. Some folks spend their whole lives entertaining negative thoughts about themselves that were never true to begin with, yet they persist year after year living in a prison of their own making; living amidst a refusal to challenge the thoughts; a distracted, unfocused, perpetual continuance in error. My friends, this does not need to be.

If you find yourself agitated and confused, distracted and distraught, take the time you need to get things straight. Slow yourself down and begin to think. Cut off, at least for while, the endless stream of distractions and give yourself time to think. And, for goodness sakes, stop letting things go. Be in the moment and live in the moment. Look around you and really see. Notice the people you have been blessed to interact with and look for the needs you can help supply. Pay attention to the people you love most with open eyes, listening ears and open hearts. Stop fretting over next month or next year or when you plan to retire and instead live right now. Live the day you are in and only the day you are in. That will be enough to handle on its own. The recipe for future happiness, peace of mind and a blessed life is to slow down and pay attention…

Just some good thoughts…

Chase the Appeal…


Have you ever considered why some memories remain in your mind out of all proportion to other memories? (I’m not talking about the things that scared you or that time you got in big trouble.) Certain smells, a song from the past, a phrase or expression, carry with them some wonder; a warmth you find difficult to describe. Similarly, particular aspects of life like an abundant flower garden or a freshly mowed lawn seem to speak to something inside of you. Or maybe it’s the feel of a hardbound book cover or the thin rim of your favorite coffee mug. Whatever it is in this world of infinite possibilities, those things are what they are and where they are for a reason. They make their appeal to an important aspect of who you are and your responsibility is to pursue it. Catch the message. Chase the appeal.

Often, it seems, we fail to recognize our individuality and instead opt for conformity. It’s like we cannot fathom our uniqueness and do our best to like what everyone else seems to like. We so desperately want to fit in to our own detriment; to the sacrificing of everything we and only we can bring to the world. We don’t trust ourselves. We don’t believe in ourselves. When our bodies try to tell us something, we don’t listen. We do not follow our own hearts, but instead chase after whims and passing fancies. Ultimately, we should have the courage to choose our own paths. We should not be so afraid to upset the herd. In every situation of life there is one right way to go and we can always find it if we pay attention. Yet, the circumstances of life are so loaded with distractions and alternate courses that we miss it almost every time. And afterwards we often find painfully that we already knew. In order to be consistently happy, you are going to have to learn how to be you; how to do you; to become the best version of you. There is only one you and no-one else can bring what you alone can bring. What is appealing to you?

Emerson said, “The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray.” As such, there is a distinct uniqueness to the things you experience, though they be quite similar to someone else. The words of a certain poem, the feeling you experienced seeing the woman laughing on the beach, the high view of the lush valley below, all contain within them something specific for you. Follow after them. They are God’s little clues for your greater experience; for your own abundant life. Don’t lump them all together and chalk it up as oddity. Don’t be so hurried and distracted that you miss them. The more you are willing to see, the more you will see. God is a God of specificity. Haven’t you noticed? The One that made your eye with all of its complexity, made your mind as well with all its complexity and as such knows in great detail how to appeal to you. Follow the appeals.

“A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bards and sages.”  (RWE) There are things in your experience that brighten your mind and fill and fulfill your heart. Similarly, there are things that serve to darken your mind and numb you to life’s greater realties. Get yourself to the light. Notice the things speaking to your heart and investigate them further. They are not random and not happenstance. They lead you directly to the things that are for you. The appeal carries with it some deeper reality, some hidden truth for you, that you need. Darkness also carries with it an appeal, but that appeal will always promise to satisfy some desire and damage you in the process. It’s interesting to consider that God is not limited to church meetings or conventional settings, while absent from the grand majority of life. As the Author of life, He is in every aspect of life without limitation. Yet, many seem to think He is separate from the other aspects and as such miss the messages. Perhaps God wrote that line in the poem you can’t seem to stop reading. Why does that song make you feel warm inside? What is that vivid flower communicating to you? All around you everyday is intricate and unlimited beauty trying to tell you something, if only you remained willing to hear. Track down the appeal.

Life today is so hurried and frenzied that we miss it. There is so much at which to look. Things are confusing and distracting, overloading us with information and more things to do. But, one thing is needful. Return to the one thing. Live the day and the day only. Don’t rush through the days trying to get to another day. Live the day. Experience the moments you are in. Be fully present. In so doing, you will begin to understand (again) that you aren’t supposed to just get through life or reach some acceptable age before you die, but actually live life. There’s happiness and fulfillment out there waiting for you to come upon it. Life is to be a period of discovery, ultimately discovering the One who made it all. Hold on to the good things. Savor those memories that stand out for you and make you that much better. Pay very close attention to those aspects of life that speak to you directly, even if you cannot fully understand them yet. There is something glorious behind it looking to care for and love you. Slow down a little bit. Trim back all those activities. Turn off all the noise makers. Look around you and listen intently, for the best parts of life are right there seeking you. Chase the appeal!

Just some good thoughts…