Thursday, December 25, 2014

An After-Christmas Encouragement

It is 10:30 PM, Christmas night.  The kids left twenty minutes ago.  We are tired, but full of the afterglow of the day and the season. 

Now what?

This one simple thought has been on my mind for awhile as I’ve thought of your Friday morning reflection.  It is this …

Jesus Christ is the sameThe same as He was yesterday (or 100 or 1000 years ago), today (Christmas day, the day after or whenever you read this), and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

That gives me hope.  His nature never changes.  He still has enough grace, enough forgiveness and enough love right this moment as He has ever had.

And all of that is available to you and to me in abundance, pouring forth, running over.  He offers to fill your bucket.  Just turn it right-side-up and receive.

That is all.

Good night.


P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Christmas Meditations

Merry Christmas!  The march is on to December 25.  Make it a good trip.  Go fast enough to get in all that delights and inspires you.  Go slowly enough to savor the important and distinguished moments.  

Drink deeply from the cup of fellowship, friendship and love - especially love.

Click on any underlined links below that are of interest to you. 


Christmas Greetings

A Christmas Memory

A Candlelight of Love

Christmas Hope

When Love Was Enough at Christmas

The Story of Silent Night

What the Bells Say

Hope Is Coming

Christmas Wins Again

What Child Indeed

God Is a User

The Inn Keeper

The Man and the Birds

The Baby In His Arms

The Birth of Jesus

What's So Special about December 25th?

The Trip to Bethlehem

Why Santa Claus

The Angels

What about Those Shepherds

Just Another Sleepy Night

His Love ... Reaching


Merry Christmas!

Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time



Monday, November 24, 2014

Books Take Us Places


A more apt title for this post might be “We Take Books Places.”  Allow me to explain.

For some time now Carolyn has been reading to me as we drive.  This is one of the great joys of our marriage.  It is a shared event and provides us with wonderful conversation moments as we dissect the characters and thoughts provided. 

We catch reading moments every chance we get.
~On the way to the gym – 15 minutes each way
~On the way to church 30 minutes each way
~Driving to our Friday night date-night location
~When taking a drive around the beautiful countryside of the northwest
And just about any other time we are in the car

At the beginning of November we were searching for our next read and decided to start Christmas a bit early.  Just last night we finished The Christmas Train by David Baldacci.  I must say, this is by far one of the best, most entertaining and memorable books we've read together.  I would highly recommend this to you.


Look at some of the books we've read in recent months and years.
The Christmas Train – David Baldacci
The Harry Potter Series – J K Rowling
The Chronicles of Narnia – C S Lewis
Jobs – Biography of Steve Jobs
Jefferson – by Brodie
A book of Christmas stories
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Adventures of the Three Musketeers
Angels and Demons – Dan Brown
The da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
Partners for Life – Dave LeShana
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
A Severe Mercy – C S Lewis
Help Thanks Wow – Anne Lamont
Daring Greatly – Brene Brown
Ragamuffin Gospel – Brennan Manning
The Furious Longing of God – Brennan Manning
Ruthless Trust – Brennan Manning
What’s So Amazing about Grace – Philip Yancey

And many more.

It’s sort of like reading to your kids at bedtime.  You create memories and you tell great stories

Never underestimate the power of a great book, especially when shared.



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Pursuit of Better

Are you in pursuit? 
Those of us who pursue continually strive, even when weary. 
If we stumble, we pick ourselves up. 
If we are tired, we rest, and then pick up the mantle of pursuit once revived. 

If discouraging words are tossed our way, we use the shards of those words to make a staircase to the next rung on the proverbial ladder, and we keep climbing.  We keep pursuing. 

~This is the way of the champion. 
~This is the way of the one who changes the world.
~This is the way of the one who builds empires. 

~This is the way of the one who writes books, songs, symphonies, poems and rhapsodies which inspires the world.

~This is the way of the retail merchant who wants to be the best.
~This is the way of the manufacturer of shoes who wants the world to wear his shoes.
~This is the way of the speaker who wants to move men’s hearts.

We constantly pursue better. 

We pursue better, even in the face of discouragement.  We pursue it on rainy days, and cold days.  We pursue it when we are broke and hungry.

We pursue. 

We chase the dream, because it is all we have thought of for a very long time.

If we come in 5th this year, we dream of first place next year.  If we miss by an inch, we train and strengthen our core so that we exceed by two inches next time.

If we trip on our own shoelaces, we tighten them tighter next time, and strap them down, tuck them in and do it all over again.

We pursue better.

Why?

Because we can see that we are better.  We can run a little faster, lift a little more, write a bit more keenly, make the melody soar a bit more and make the poem rhyme with a more resounding ring.

We see that we are better, and we run toward better.

Nothing less will do.

WE PURSUE BETTER!

What will your “better” look like tomorrow?



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pauses in the Battle

The battle rages.  We are compelled to do more, to make more money, to do better, to have more, to understand life, to climb higher and faster, and to win.  Whew.  I’m worn out just from contemplating this list.

The intensity of life grows and expands with every new day.  You’ve heard the expression “It’s a jungle out there.”  And the jungle needs continual trimming down to size. 

Help!  Stop the merry-go-round and let me off.  At least stop the spinning for a moment.

Stop it indeed.

Where is the answer?  Consider this:  Look for it in the pauses in the battle.  Sometimes we create the pauses. 

Steven Covey’s now famous quote comes to mind.  “Take time to sharpen the saw.”  He wrote that in 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.  

Burn-out is still a popular topic in the workplace.  The cause of burnout is because we have forgotten to look for the pauses in the battle.  I love my work, and especially my days off.  Those are the pauses in the battle that recharge and restore me. 

The aware individual learns to listen for the pauses and make the most of them.  The effective individual learns about the ebb and flow of the battlefield, and in the pauses, he/she takes stock of his life, of her heart and of his mindset. 

~Is my sword still sharp?
~Is my attitude and mindset tuned in to the right frequency?
~Are my muscles toned with proper tension and relief?

~Are my necessary tools readily at hand?
~Is my life in balance?
~Does faith and optimism still burn in my soul?

Paulo Coelho says this in his great book “Warrior of the Light”. 




Sometimes equipment and people need maintenance.  Sometimes ‘stuff’ breaks and has to be replaced.  Sometimes our best employee moves on and has to be replaced.  And sometimes we need to seek out the pauses in the battle in order to recharge and recover.

And so we maintain. 
We fix
  We replace
    We repair
      We clean
        We sharpen

We do the work that is required so that we can face another day on the battlefield and gain some new ground.

If we are tired, we rest.  We recreate – we vacation – we take our scheduled days off.

The battle will always be there.  For today – find a pause and do something with that.



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Friday, October 24, 2014

Good in the Long Run

Have you ever been lucky?  Have you had some new venture that really wowed the world the first time out of the chute?  When a person is good at the beginning, perhaps all that really happened is this – they got lucky.

They Got Lucky!

And do you know what?  Luck is not a strategy.  Strategies take time and thought.  Strategies sometimes fall apart.  Strategies sometimes miss the mark and we lose money.

Too bad, isn’t it?  We wanted to be great out of the chute. 
We wanted …
               To woo
                         To wow
                                   And to win.


However, there is some good news after all.

Being ‘good’ over the long haul is simply a matter of effort, tenacity, and some really smart practices that get honed and fine-tuned on the playing field.

None of my grandkids learned to walk 30 days after their birth.  Nor did they walk 60 days after.  Today they all walk and talk, smile and laugh.  They’ve become ‘good in the long run’ and so have your kids and grandkids.  And it is so in whatever you find to do with your life and talents.

Have you noticed that people who are good in the long run sometimes fail a lot?  Their early days are less than perfect.  That is called “paying the price” for becoming good in the long run. 

With every stumble and every blunder we learn.  We learn because we want to be good in the long run.  If we interviewed many of today’s successful people, they would tell stories of their failures in the beginning.  Failure is a part of the deal.  It is the price one pays for being good in the long run. 

Every rejection is a gift.  It is our chance to learn to do it better.

And in the long run, there is a better than average chance that we will be one of those who has a long and prosperous run.



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Word of Gratitude

Thursday, October 23, 2014 marks the five year anniversary for my blog writing life.  This milestone is a simple prayer of gratitude.  Can you take a few minutes and share this with me?


Gratitude 1:
Thanks be to God for the inspiration and ideas that have come to me in odd moments and in sometimes obscure ways.  As a writer, I am ever on the search for the next great idea and I never know when that idea will strike my heartstrings.  All I can add is this … a prayer of “help” with every post, and a prayer of “blessing” on those who might take the time to read my thoughts. 

My bi-line has and always will be “offering hope, encouragement and inspiration one word at a time.”  I live to encourage.  Sometimes it is with a scriptural text.  Other times, it is a great thought or quote from some wise person that just simply applies to a life principle.  If you are encouraged or offered hope, then I have fulfilled my mission for that moment in time.  What more can a writer ask for?


Gratitude 2:
I have found inspiration from other authors of books, magazine articles, blog posts and quotes both in print and on the Internet that have contributed to my posts.  In every case I have attempted to be faithful to record and recognize the contributors. 

My fellow writers, you are heroes.  Sometimes I mimic your style, lift a word or phrase here and there, and often quote whole passages.  You say things so much more clearly than I could ever create and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Gratitude 3:
To those of you who have taken time to read my words, I am humbled and so grateful.  On my computer I have a file of your responses, expressions of gratitude and your words of encouragement back to me.  I think of you with every word and sentence.  Am I making sense?  Am I writing on a topic that addresses a need for you?  Am I presenting my thoughts in fresh ways with fresh insights – not a rehash of old babble?

I’ve received sufficient responses that keep me coming back to the keyboard.  For yet another day, week, month and year the keyboard calls because you have let me know you are listening, reading and receiving. 

I am humbled at your responses. 

And now … the desire to write is still strong within me.  The search continues for my ultimate goal … “To write the blog heard around the world.”

And why?

Because I only want to do one thing …

Offer Hope, Encouragement, and Inspiration to mankind one word at time.



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Believe in What You Do

Do you buy into whatever it is you do?  Do you do what you do out of a sense of commitment, dedication, passion, purpose?

I write in my particular style because it appears some people find encouragement from my books and blogs.  I believe in my gift of encouragement and abilities to form thoughts that bring hope.  Therefore I believe in my abilities as a writer.

My friend Chuck believes in retail sales and ministry through his rather large Christian bookstore in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  He’s been in the business now for over thirty years and he is very good at what he does.  He believes in that venture.

Bob, my recording engineer friend in Nashville believes he makes a difference in pushing buttons and making recording artists sound as great as he possibly can.  And he is an award winning engineer in doing so.  Bob believes in his craft and in his ability to do it exceptionally well. 

Most of us have had jobs in which we suffocated rather than thrived.  For us, those moments, months and years were pure mundane living.  Ah, but when the day comes and we find our niche, we come alive.  Belief kicks in and we soar.  And so does belief in our destiny.

What is your “calling”?
What do you believe you can do?

I sincerely hope you find your “thing” and do it with abandon.

Seth Godin, a writer from whom I get a lot inspiration, says this:

“Do you believe in what you do?  Every day?  It turns out that belief happens to be a brilliant strategy.”



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Little Watering

Once upon a time there was a peach tree.  From the outside appearance, this tree was all dried up, useless, and not worth much.  In the summer, when fruit bearing season came along, this peach tree put out warts instead of peaches.  Needless to say, they were dried up and very small. Even the crows left them along, if crows indeed eat peaches. 

One fine March, I decided to give this tree one more season before chopping it down.  I soon came to realize that maybe this tree simply needed watering.  So, every afternoon when I got home, I faithfully watered the tree.  Some evenings, it seems I stood for nearly an hour simply holding the garden hose to the base of the peach tree.

Time passed.  When the peaches came in later that season, my Albuquerque peach tree produced peaches in bushels and basketfuls.  They were large and juicy and sweet peaches.

You see.  My peach tree simply needed a bit of watering.  Just some faithful watering.


Once upon a time, in a galaxy, far, far away, there lived a skinny nine year old boy.  He wore tattered jeans, dirty tennis shoes and a ball cap.  His hang-down expression pretty much summed up the story of his life.  You see, he never heard much in the way of kind and positive words.  He heard plenty of “don’t do that.  Stop that boy.  Get away from there.  What do you think you’re doing?”

One fine day a wise older man came into the young boy’s life.  He expected to hear the same barrage of put-down’s he had heard for most of his life.

Instead, he heard words like, “Good job.  You did great!  I like the way you performed today.  Where did you learn to do that?  Outstanding.  Simply outstanding."

Our young lad grew.  He replayed the words of the kind and gracious old man.  He began to see himself remade in the image of the esteem that he heard from his older mentor.  

He grew.  And grew.  And grew. 

Not so much in size and height – but in terms of an inside job.  He saw himself as a capable, useful and worthwhile human being. 

He became a believer in himself because he saw himself through the eyes of an encourager. 

The old man simply watered the young man.  He poured on him water of encouraging words, and gave him a coat of “self-belief.”

The end!

But really, it is only the beginning.  To whom can you give words of esteem and encouragement?

A child
An employee
A neighbor
A nephew or niece

Pass it along -- words of esteem that is.



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Rejected? So What

What if you put ‘it’ out there, whatever ‘it’ is?  And in the process of ‘putting it out there’ you get rejected.  Then what?

There are dangers ahead.  Beware (but not really).

Consider this.

You put “it” out there and …

You get your hopes up, and they crash and burn.
You set a course to pursue and you never make it to your destination.
You fall in love with an idea that never matures?
You write a book that becomes a dust gatherer.
Your great “idea of the month” crashes and burns and some even laugh.
Your restaurant and stellar menu attracts more flies than people.

That hurts.  Ouch!

So you got rejected.  Now what? 

Was it all for naught? 

Heavens no!  HEVENS NO!!!

There is an amount of risk in every venture.  It is unavoidable.  And we do it anyway.  We step out.  We proceed.  We weigh the chances of success verses failure and if we have the burning inside of us, we do the thing. 

And if we fail, IF we fail – let it make you a better person, a wiser person. 

What can you learn after a fall?  The odds are almost always against new ventures and new upstarts.  Is that a good reason to avoid the thing?  No, no, no … a thousand times NO!

The better question is this:  Is it worth it? 

And better yet … consider this:  What if I succeed?

What if indeed.

Sometimes we make the leap.  We jump.

Note this:

Sometimes we talk ourselves in failure
before it even shows up.  How tragic is that?
~Seth Godin

Rejection in hindsight is often resolved with a sigh of relief.  That is all.

And if you succeed … Hurrah!  You win.

(P.S.  The seed idea for this blog is from Seth Godin.)



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, August 9, 2014

How Close Is God

When the world seems to close in around us we might have a tendency to wonder if God is nearby.  Do you ever felt that way?  I have. 

I hope these reminders encourage you. 

How close is God?

He is as close as …

-The birth of a baby
   -A breath of air
      -A baby’s soft cries

-A couple in love
   -An act of grace given without fanfare
      -A soldier standing in harm’s way

-A child’s laughter
   -A flower bud bursting open
      -The song of a bird

-The words “I love you”
   -A smile
      -A healing touch

-A word of encouragement
   -A friend when in need
      -A stranger offering a helping hand

-An orange fresh from the tree
   -A sunrise
      -A sunset

-A clap of thunder
   -Rainfall on a tin roof
      -Music that stirs the soul

-A cheery phone call
   -A cup of coffee with a friend
      -A loving touch of assurance

-A musician performing from his/her heart
   -A job offer
      -A loan approval

-A dose of medicine properly applied
   -A wise word properly stated
      -Significant words from His book


Become aware of the nearness of God.  He’s not just found in church on Sunday you know.



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Strengthening the Family

Carolyn and I joined J Paul and his family last Sunday night for an activity they call Family Sabbath.  This is important and I hope you will endure to the end.

Family Sabbath is a low key family time in which we gather around the fire pit, makes smores, and have a really neat family time.  

Before we do anything else we pass a cup of water around the circle.  As the cup comes around to each of us, we simply dip our fingers into the water and the one holding the cup says these words, “Michael, you are loved and you are forgiven.”  And then it is my turn to pass this cup and say those exact words to the person on the other side of me.

These are powerful words.  To know and accept that we are  loved and forgiven is a profound psychological and spiritually impacting concept.

Following this, we may have a discussion with a lead question such as “What did you do that was difficult this past week?”

The questions vary, and the structure is such that we can veer off topic and not everyone has to answer – all the while we are making smores, laughing and talking. 

It is interesting to note the make-up of our circle.

J Paul         Father
Julie            Mother
TJ                18 and a senior
Josh            16
Maria          13
Jacob          11
Carolyn       Nanny to the kids and mother of J Paul
Me               Papa Michael

Can you believe it?  The kids never miss these family times, and they interact, they participate in the passing of the cup and it is a sacred and meaningful time at its highest intent.

Just had to share this.  Regardless of your family structure, strengthening the family unit is an important part of the fabric of your family’s life.

Give this one some serious thought.  Fashion your own Family Sabbath as you wish.  The most important thing to do is to do it.

Be well.
Build a stronger family unit.
Bless those in your family.



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Living with Grace

I intend to live with Grace for the rest of my life.  And I can hear someone say “But what happened to Carolyn?  I thought you were going to live with Carolyn for the rest of your life?”

I am.  Carolyn is my main squeeze.  She is the delight of my life, my love, my joy, my best friend.  When I say “I intend to live with grace” I’m not talking about a person, but a set of actions.  Grace is a state of mind.  It is a way of conducting my affairs with mankind and grace is a gift from God that you and I receive on an ongoing basis.

Three ladies let me go in front of them yesterday at Costco.  I had three items and they had twenty-three.  That was grace.

My friend Morris arrived back at his car just as the patrolman was about to write him a ticket for parking past the limit on the meter.  Morris was shown grace.

My neighbor Sandy was given a warning and not a ticket for speeding through the small town of Yelm, WA.  That was grace.

Grace happens whenever we receive mercy and forgiveness when we should have received punishment or a reprimand. 

And sometimes, it is given just because … just because of love.

Remember the woman caught in adultery?  She received grace with the words “Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”

And Zacchaeus … he received grace when he was called down from the sycamore tree.  Christ wanted to have a meal with him, not lecture him.

Grace is where I want my focus to be.  We can find something wrong with anything or anyone if we look long and hard enough.  We can dispense condemning words, we can judge, we can call out wrongs, and we can find weaknesses anywhere anytime. 

But what about grace?

So what if another driver cut in front of you today?  Maybe he had an emergency, or it is his wife’s birthday and he is rushing to get home sooner than later. 

So what if it was your turn for ice cream and three small kids cut line?  Did you really suffer all that much?  Maybe it is your day to give a bit more grace.

I love talking about grace for I am a recipient of great grace. 

My faults far outweigh my good points, yet grace abounds.
My actions aren’t always pure and holy, yet grace abounds.

Sometimes I have wars and rumors of wars – in my mind – with someone who did me wrong thirteen years ago.  Yet grace flows down.

Grace Flows Down.

That is it.  The grace of God flows down and fills us and washes over us even in the middle of our mundane and miserable lives. 

We don’t deserve it.  We don’t act like grace-filled people most of the time.  And we don’t give enough to pay the debt that this grace surely costs. 

And it flows down anyway.

I like living with grace.  I like dispensing grace every chance I get. 

‘Cause I get a lot of grace in bushels and basketfuls.

“It is by grace that you are saved.”

… “Oh for grace to trust HIM more”



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Future with Hope

Every time I have started a job the new company always paints a rosy picture of what my future might look like.

Every cancer patient holds onto an image of what their future might be like when they are cancer-free.

Every parent pictures a bright future for their newborn child.

Every college grad dreams of their future earnings potential and professional career tract with great hope.

Hope abounds. 

John C. Maxwell says this:  “The average person can live only four seconds without hope.”

And so we hope. 
     
     And so we dream. 

Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning and a survivor of the Nazi death camps, concluded this; “Man can only live by looking into the future.” 

The great human need is a need for a purpose.  We are “purpose driven” people.  Give us a mission and it will prolong life.  Take away hope and we shrivel and die for lack of a drink from the purpose pool.

Those few who had the opportunity to survive the Nazi work and death camps did so because they clung to hope for future happiness and fulfillment.

One of the great verses of scripture is found in Jeremiah 29:11.  It is a verse to which I have clung often in my lifetime.  It is full of hope and great comfort. 

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  I have plans for your welfare and not for harm, because I offer you a future with hope.”
~PMB paraphrase

My future and yours is still unfolding, and so we hope.
We aren’t perfect yet, therefore we hope.
We aren’t well today, however, we hope.
We don’t make the big bucks so far, but the big deal is just around the corner.

We hope. 
          We hope. 
                    We hope.

What is hope?  Seeds - simply seeds that we HOPE will grow into our future.

   Seeds of expectation
      Seeds of trust
         Seed of anticipation
            Seeds of wishes

And then we ask:  “How can you have hope when the world is in such chaos?  Don’t you see the wars and rumors of wars, the strife, the battle over territorial rights in every corner of our globe?  Are you crazy?  You have hope with all that is going on?”

And my answer is still this – “YES, for I have a promise from on high.  The God I know has given His word.  His personal guarantee is “a future with hope”.

Be encouraged today.



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Monday, July 14, 2014

Imagination

Imagination is free and available to every person alive today.  We can take some amazing trips by using it; we can invent or adapt useful products, write amazing stories, and perform fanciful feats.  Imagination still rules.

Where has your imagination taken you lately?

Here’s what some imaginative souls do to keep the flow going.

~Sit in a dark room with a pen and paper handy.  When an idea strikes they turn on the light and capture the idea
~Sit on the beach
~Swing in a hammock
~Read magazines outside their normal interest area for cross-pollination ideas.
~Take a train ride
~Go home a different route
~Listen to music out of the norm

   And a thousand times more

The bottom line … your imagination is free. 
You own the title to it. 
Use it. 
Set it free. 
Give it plenty of exercise.



P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time