Thursday, May 26, 2011

You Are Enough

Your life is speaking to you.  What is it saying?

Oprah Winfrey aired her last show this past week.  We watched it. 

I marvel at the influence this woman has had on so many people for twenty-five years.  She doesn’t hold a ministerial license.  She is not a doctor of anything that I know of, yet she is and has been one major player in so many people’s lives.  She has touched the heart-strings of America. 

I want to recap a thought that she left us with in her last TV appearance.

She said, 

“You alone are enough.” 

That one concept makes me stand up and shout “YEAH!

Oprah said, "We block our own blessings because we don’t feel enough.  We don’t feel good enough or pretty enough, worthy enough, rich enough.”

The world teaches us that.  Does it seem to you that everywhere you turn someone or some institution is always trying to find fault with you? 

I worked for a retail company who made a big deal out of that fact that the employees always needed coaching.  We could have an incredible week or month in sales, yet there was always something that they could find fault with. 

What a tragedy!

That mentality pervades society today. 

When are we ever enough?  Even at my absolute best, is that enough?  Am I ever good enough?  Handsome enough?  Pretty enough?  Slim enough?  Do I make enough money?  Do I walk right?  Sit right? 

The list goes on.

Oprah went on to say this:  “You are worthy because you are born.”

Wow!  I love that.  “You are worthy just because you are born.”  I want you to grab onto that concept and think about it, believe it, internalize it and live like somebody of worth. 

You are a worthy individual. 

You are enough!

Your life is speaking to you.  What is it saying?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Go-Kart Chronicles

When I was four we lived in Nashville.  One summer Sunday afternoon my brother, Donny, and I decided to make a go-cart.  We began rummaging around our home and in the basement we found some old boards, nails, four wheels from an old wagon, and a rusty saw. 

Donny, age seven, took on the responsibility of “boss".  He would tell me what to do and I did it to the best of my four-year-old abilities.  After we gathered our stuff together for this manufacturing feat we began laying out our go-cart. 

One of the boards needed to be sawed to a shorter length so Donny grabbed the old rusty saw and went to work.  I watched. 

He fought with the saw and the board, but just did not make any progress.  That old saw just would not cut that hard old cedar board. 

Finally, he assigned me the task of holding the board still while he sawed.  Back to work we went, with teamwork as our motto.  Donny sawed and I applied as much pressure as my thirty-two pound frame could muster.  Unfortunately, that was not enough.  The board still danced all over the saw horses.

Donny stopped sawing, looked at me and said in a stern voice, “Put more weight on the board!”

He then resumed sawing. 

I was holding onto the board with all my might, and then I had a flash of insight.  I reasoned that if I could get a better grip on the board then I could hold it really still. 

Just as I rose up to reapply more pressure on the board Donny made a big pull on the saw.  The saw came loose from the board.  Donny hit himself in the head with his saw hand; and then he got mad.  He got mad at me, at the saw, at the board, and at our go-cart project, but he took it out on me. 

He grabbed me by the head with his left hand and with the saw in his right hand he laid the saw on the top of my head and gave me two or three swipes with the saw blade.  As he sawed my head he muttered, “I told you to hold that board still!”

My head took four or five stitches and this story has given us some great family laughs in retrospect.

I think there are some principles in this story, and here they are. 

Gather your Supplies (Gather the Facts)
Before beginning any undertaking gather as many of the supplies or facts as you can before you begin.

Sharpen Your Saw (Read, study on the subject at hand)
Put a sharp edge on your most critical tools.  After gathering your stuff, sharpen, clean, organize and prepare them so that you know where they are, and that they are in as good a working order as can be. 

Get a Grip
Get a Grip.  Understand the basics to the best that you can.  Hold on to essential facts and keep a steady hand on your thoughts and the direction in which you are headed.  If you need to make an adjustment, let the critical people on your team know.

Hurts Heal
Hurts heal and stitches eventually come out.  If you make mistakes it is not the end of the world.  Patch up what you can, seek professional help when needed, and apply the appropriate remedy to promote recovery as quickly as possible.

Laugh It Off
If you make a mistake, laugh it off, learn from your mistakes, and move on.  Besides, it gives you something to remember in the future. 

Now, let’s go make a go-cart!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Why I Believe in Hope

Let’s take a stroll down the avenue.  “Well, look over there,” someone says.  “That’s nothing but a pile of rocks.”

The heart with hope sees the same pile of rocks and says, “Oh, look.  They are going to build a beautiful cathedral on this corner.”

How is your hope factor?  Are you full of hope, or are you running on fumes of despair?

Can you see the rainbow of promise?

Can you breathe deeply of the optimism around you, or are you hearing the hum of negativity?

I love what Emily Dickenson says.  “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” 

Hope begins in the dark.  When the world says “give up”, hope whispers “Try it one more time.”

Hope is an anchor for my soul.
Hope promises something better to come along.
Hope sustains in the dark hours.

Hope energizes.
Hope sharpens my vision of things yet to be.
As long as I draw breath I shall have hope.

I believe, therefore I have hope.

To hope is to risk pain.  To try is to risk failure, but risk and pain must be endured because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. 

Do you believe in hope?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

When Heartbreak Turns to Hope

Everywhere we turn these days we see signs of devastation, catastrophe, heartbreak and great loss. I have friends in Tennessee and Georgia who have faced tremendous losses because of recent tornados bombarding their homes and cities.

My heart goes out to those in Japan facing unimaginable dangers, losses and devastation because of the tsunami and radiation leaks that are still prevalent in parts of that region.

On top of all of that, I think of people all around me and you who have lost jobs with no immediate source of income in sight. Where and when does this suffering end? When does hope walk through the door?

I saw an ad recently for the American Red Cross that used this bi-line “When Heartbreak Turns to Hope.”

Rampant hardships

Where is hope in all of this?

I have some friends in Centralia, WA who recently lost their adult son. He was in the prime of his life when he was struck down. Where is hope in all of that?

My friend’s home in Missouri is under water at this moment. Where is Gary’s hope?

And now, with the world literally being threatened every day with some kind of devastation or attack by foreign enemies, I say again, where is hope?

Hope is such an elusive thing. Here are the synonyms for the word “Hope.”
         Look forward to

In 1998 I was facing a tough time in my life. Funds were at their lowest, bills were over my head, and I was heartbroken. Along came hope in the form of a financial gift. My, oh my!

I saw hope coming down the road once carrying a bucket of fried chicken and a shovel to help a neighbor dig his way out of a mud slide.

I’ve known of hope jumping into a rushing river to save a desperate mother and child from drowning after their auto was swept off a rain filled roadway.

I’ve heard stories of hope showing up on the battlefield, rescuing a fellow soldier.

Hope has made more than one appearance in the medical world. It showed up at least once disguised as a donor offering his kidney for a stranger who happened to be a perfect match.

I saw hope one day in a restaurant. A businessman paid for a plate of eggs and bacon for a homeless man who was sitting drinking a cup of coffee on a rainy day in Seattle’s Wallingford district.

I occasionally see hope offered to a homeless person asking for some loose change on a street corner.

Hope arrived one day to a mother of three through some sacks of groceries.

And hope shows up time and time again through humanitarian-based relief organizations and religious groups, such as The American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, World Relief, World Concern, Goodwill Industries International, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children, UNICEF, United Way, Alliance for Children Everywhere and so many other worthy organizations.

We all need hope, don’t you think? Some days we need it more than others.

I think by now you get the picture of exactly how hope can be such an encouraging thing to an individual.

One of my favorite biblical passages says this: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord; plans for your welfare and not for harm, so that I might give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

          A Future with Hope!

I can hold onto that.

Regardless of the prognosis, it matters not the dire predictions, and regardless of who is in charge, we are promised a future with hope.

My prayer for you today is this –
Find hope in the smallest packages and at odd moments of your life
Offer hope when you can, even in a firm steady hand on a shoulder that says “I believe in you.”

May you be an agent for turning heartbreak into hope!