Monday, July 29, 2013

Conversations with Self

Believe it or not, this is going to be an encouraging blog, but first, let me get this first part down on the screen.

We all have cracks and breaks in our lives.  No one – absolutely no one is perfect.  There are failures, foibles, and weaknesses in every creature alive. 

OK.  Now it gets better.

Bottom line, we need to find a way to treat ourselves with a whole lot of kindness and good wholesome self-talk.  I love what Brene Brown says in Daring Greatly.

“We need to talk to ourselves
the same way we’d talk to
someone we care about.”
~Brene Brown

Kevin Hall, in Aspire, says this:

“You should never treat another person in a manner that would make them feel small.  And that means yourself.”
~Kevin Hall

Kevin calls this GENSHAI (pronounced GEN-Shy) 

We listen to ourselves 24 hours a day – seven days a week.  What goes on in our minds is perhaps the most important activity we will do at any given moment. 

We humans have a tendency to beat up on ourselves and use put-down words and phrases.  One of our favorites is to care more about what others may think.  Rather, as Brene encourages us to do – establish that “I am enough.” 


“I Am Enough.”

Say that a few hundred times a day for a month. 

I simply want to encourage all of us to begin good and healthy conversations with ourselves that lead to empowering thoughts and repairing the defeated self-image we so generously tear down.

Be kind to self!
Be gentle with you, as you are with others. 

You are the one who controls this lever.

Only you

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

Friday, July 26, 2013

Light Side Dark Side

I hate to break the news to you but you and I have a light side
and a dark side.

Oh, we love to boast of our light side – the side that gets good grades, good jobs, good salaries, the prize ribbon, acknowledgements, the proud testimonies on Wednesday night prayer meeting, and our perfect kids and grandkids.

And then we face the dark side.  Oh brother – what a mess.  

We brush that one under the carpet and out the door.  We throw a coat of paint on the dark side, we ignore it, and we never talk about it except in hushed tones.  We don’t even acknowledge the dark side. 

But it is there.

Perhaps it is time to bring the dark side out into the light and let it breathe.  I want to borrow from my friend Brennan Manning.

“To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means.
~Brennan Manning

“I learn who I am and what grace means” is a significant phrase. 

It doesn’t take much grace to live on the bright side of the street where everything is coming up roses. 

Meanwhile, on the dark side, we’d rather cover it over.

But in the shadows God brings redemption.  He brings hope, salvation, and an opportunity to turn the shadows into sunshine. 

Did you notice the word “admitting”?  Admission to anything is the first step toward healing and redemption.  It is necessary.  And look at the result.

Darkness becomes light.
Sadness turns to joy.
Sins melt into salvation.
Brokenness becomes wholeness.

What a concept.  It’s called GRACE!

In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means.

There are no signs of reticence on God’s part when dealing with our shadow side.  There is a tremendous amount of love and forgiveness here.  And we, the recipient, reap the benefit.  We learn who we are and we see with fresh eyes God’s grace. 

That is something to celebrate. 

Just look at the demons we each fight.  Again, let Brennan’s words speak to us.

“When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes.
 I believe and I doubt
  I hope and get discouraged
   I love and I hate
    I feel bad about feeling good
     I feel guilty about not feeling guilty
      I am trusting and suspicious
       I am honest and I still play games

As Thomas Merton put it, "A saint is not someone who is good but one who experiences the goodness of God."

I pray that we all experience this great goodness of God and step into the light. 

…Cause in the light, the shadows disappear.

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

Monday, July 22, 2013

Make a Living or Make a Life

I just Googled my blog title.  There are numerous books, blogs, and articles that have used this as fodder for their content. 

Still I submit my thoughts.

In another blog I posted today I tell the story of an 84-year-old woman who went back to school to get her degree.  In a speech she gave, she closed with this thought.

“We make a living by what we get.
We make a life by what we give.”

This is the perfect quote for a philosopher such as me. 

So, what are we giving?  What legacy and what marks do we leave on this world that says “I passed by and this is what I want to leave for the next generation.”?

We can rest in confidence that we have lived a full life if we leave something of value and worth to others and for others.

Carolyn and I visited the Gates Foundation in Seattle a few months ago.  Bill and Melinda are such prime examples of giving back literally to the world in abundant measure.  They are strengthening the infrastructure in numerous countries around the world, and they are providing medical cures for countless children in so many less fortunate countries. 

Yes, they are allowing their lives to make life easier, longer lasting and healthier for countless individuals.  God bless them.

And you and I … what is our role in making a life by what we give?

For me, I want to offer a word of hope and encouragement to mankind.  I am fortunate that my blogs are now read in 105 countries.  That amazes me, and yet it weighs heavily on me to assure I produce words of quality, words of accuracy, and words that are true, reliable and believable.  I must write with integrity.  I pray I write with integrity.

What can you give back to mankind in your corner of the world? 
   Can you help a family in need?
      Can you bake a pie?
         Can you rake a lawn?
         Can you give a sack of groceries?
      Can you secretly give a stash of cash?
   Can you in some way enrich someone’s situation in a truly redeeming way?

That is the essence of this post.  If we can help another human being along the way, and then each recipient pass that along, look at what we would start. 

We would start a revolution of human kindness.

That’s not a bad way to live.

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

Friday, July 19, 2013

All the Help Available

Let me tell you my abridged version of a story I read this week from Harvey Mackay.

A six-year-old boy was digging in his sandbox when he hit a hard object.  The more he dug around it the more he revealed a rather large rock.  When he had uncovered enough of it he began moving it closer to the edge of his box.

He got to the edge and just could not lift or maneuver or use enough leverage to get the rock up and over the lip of his sandbox.

He began to fret.  His father heard him and came to see what was going on.

The son explained and then the dad asked, “Why didn’t you
use all the strength you had available?”

The young boy was confused, and in his defense he proudly stated, “But Dad, I did use all of my strength available.”

Gently, with great kindness, the father bent down and said, “No son.  You didn’t use all the strength available to you.  You didn’t ask me, and I am available to help.”

And with that the father reached down and easily lifted the rather large rock and tossed it out of the sandbox.”

End of the story, but the meaning never ends.

When we come to the end of ourselves perhaps there are those around us with stronger arms, or with resources to help us more easily manage the obstacles in our way.  Do we ask for help?  Do we seek others out? 

I love how Harvey ended this story.

“Don’t Say ‘No’ for the other person.”

And consider this …
Occasionally we get to be the helping hand.  What a trip that is – to do for someone who can’t quite do for themselves.

You can come up with a dozen opportunities where your helping hand just might make the difference for someone.  Will you and I dare to step up and help?

I believe we will.

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

Monday, July 15, 2013

When Our World Is Troubled

It is inevitable that sometimes trouble will appear, and it has no sense of timing.

What a dismal way to start a blog.  But wait … it gets better. 

I have been reading from one of my favorite authors this week – Brennan Manning.  The book is Ruthless Trust

Check this out.

“Jesus assured us of two things; presence and promise. 
Christ reminds us in John 16:33 of this:” 

“In the world you will have trouble.”

And he further says: 

“Fear not.  I have overcome the world.”

Brennan says this:  “What he promised was that during our desolate hours there would be one set of footprints.”

I love that.  The imagery alone is an encouragement.  He is carrying me – you too.  Picture that one.

And check this out:

“In the midst of the ruins – in the premature death of a loved one, in the hell on earth we call a crack house, in the ache of heartbreak, in the sheer malevolence of Kosovo, Rwanda, tsunamis, economic collapse and troubling political regimes – the presence of God abides.” 

He has not kept us from the heartache.  He has kept us in the middle of the heartache.  That is God showing up in our troubled world.

Be encouraged today.

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

Friday, July 12, 2013

Loveable Even with Scars

I have a small scar on my left arm above the elbow.  I got it as a kid when a wire from our clothesline stuck out too far.  

And I am still loveable.

I have a scar on the top of my head from when my brother got mad at me and sawed my head with an old rusty saw.  We were 3 and 5, making a go-cart. 

And I am still loveable.

I've had some life upsets, some setbacks, and some major disappointments, and I've fumbled a few times in my life.  

I've walked some places that should have been avoided.  

I've said some things that should have been left unsaid.

I've made some decisions that were so wrong, yet bull-headedly I charged into them, ignoring the danger signs. 

And I am still loveable. 

Amy Grant has a new song with this lyric:

Have you ever been bruised, burned, tossed out, left behind, stomped on, put down, belittled, demeaned, discriminated against, cursed, ignored, and rejected?

Then you have scars. 

And the best news of all is this … You are loved.

You are called by name. 
     You are redeemed.
          You are wanted.
               You are welcomed.
                    You are sought out.

And the one doing all of this welcoming, calling, redeeming, wanting and welcoming is your personal God. 

After all, He has a few scars of his own.
     ~See his hands where the nails pierced them?
     ~See his side where the spear opened it?
     ~See his brow and the piercing from the thorns?

Those are his scars. 

God loves the scarred, the marred, the mangled, the crippled, and the disjointed – and we are not just talking about physical ailments.  Sometimes our ailments lurk inside our hearts and minds.

Yet he comes to us.  He reaches for us.  He longs to share with us His pardon, His healing, and His soothing salve of restoration. 

Yes, you and I are still loveable, even with our scars.

Be encouraged today!

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

Monday, July 8, 2013

Never Out of Pancakes

Carolyn and I love having our kids and grand-kids over for
breakfast.  The usual breakfast fixings include scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes.  Like most kids, my grand-kids devour the pancakes. 

They never question if we’ll have enough.  They never question the cost of the flour and eggs to make the pancakes.  They never worry about the electricity to heat the burners on the stove to cook the pancakes.  They just eat the pancakes. 

They trust that the pancakes will be there because that is what we have promised and that is what they expect.  They trust.

Let that sink in for a moment. 


What is missing here? 

               Anxiety over not having enough

Our grand-kids don’t try to act especially nice so they get plenty of pancakes.  They just trust Papa and Nanny that there will be pancakes.

Oh to trust God in that way.  And we’re not really talking about pancakes.

We’re talking about a God who does what He says He will do and you can trust His word.

“Trust is our gift back to God” – so says Brennan Manning in Ruthless Trust.

Brennan also says this: 

“The splendor of the human heart which trusts that it is loved gives God more pleasure than Westminster Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, the sight of ten thousand butterflies in flight, or the scent of a million orchids in bloom.” 

Remember that phrase in that song?

“Oh for grace to trust Him more.”

In case you ever wondered, God will never run out of pancakes, or anything else you need.

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

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Available Talent Pool

It is amazing when one stops and considers the assortment of individuals God has used down through history to
accomplish His various works.

Here’s a thought:

God uses the talent pool available.
~Philip Yancey
All is Grace Forward
Talking about Brennan Manning

Brennan Manning is a writer who has hugely impacted my own life through his books, yet his personal story was one of living an upright life followed by extended bouts of falling off the wagon into alcoholism. 

His message of grace and hope still reaches thousands.  Above all, Brennan was available, and God chose to work through him. 

I read on Facebook today this amazing report from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

“Seven African countries have cut the number of new #HIV infections in children by 50%.  That’s a sign of progress in Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.”

I would say that God is using the available talent pool at hand through the Gates Foundation.  Amazing. 

Here’s a story for you.

“After World War II German students volunteered to help rebuild a cathedral in England, one of the many casualties of the Luftwaffe bombings.  As the work progressed, debate broke out on how to best restore a large statue of Jesus with his arms outstretched and bearing the familiar inscription, “Come unto me.” 

Careful patching could repair all damage to the statue except for Christ’s hands, which had been destroyed by bomb fragments.  Should they attempt the delicate task of reshaping those hands?

Finally the workers reached a decision that still stands today.  The statue of Jesus has no hands, and the inscription now reads,

“Christ has no hands but ours.”
~Fearfully and wonderfully made
Dr Paul Brand
Philip Yancey

So true.  And what do you and I do about that? 

Do you have immense talents or simple ordinary abilities?

Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might.  I believe God wants to use you and me, the person next door to you, your partner in business, your taxi driver, the local ferry boat captain and the clerk in your local bookstore to further His great work. 

The astounding thing is this … God’s work is not always done inside the four walls of a church, synagogue or cathedral.  Sometimes this great work is done in a foreign land giving immunization shots to small children.  Sometimes it is offered through a cool drink of water to a parched throat.  Occasionally, more than occasionally, God shows up through a pie baked or a ham with glaze baked with love and delivered to a family in crisis. 

Above all, be the willing servant who stands ready to be available with whatever talent you possess. 

Some person in your vicinity may need you this week, and God may tap you on the shoulder to go and represent Him and be his hands for a moment in time. 

I hope you and I recognize these opportunities when they come along.

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

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Will to Win

Vince Lombardi, legendary football coach of the Green Bay Packers, has a quote attributed to his name that is actually a mis-quote.

“Winning isn't everything.  It’s the only thing.”

According to several authorities (Denis Waitley, Don Yaeger), it is now stated as follows.

“Winning isn't everything, but the will to win is.”

This extended quote tells more of the story.

"The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure.  These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur."
~Vince Lombardi

What we care about is the spirit of the effort.  Do we will to win?  Do we give all that is within us? 

I wrote a blog on October 10, 2010 entitled  Squeeze the Towel Dry (click here)  and it speaks to this same subject. 

Regardless of the scoreboard in the end, what makes a winner is the willingness to give our all.  Leave no stone unturned.  Leave no reserve effort in the locker room for another day.  We put it on the line today, right now. 

And I’m not just talking about sports.

All we can do is all we can do, for that moment, and for our knowledge and development up to that moment in time.  We can’t borrow from next year’s strength and knowledge, but we can do our best with what we currently possess. 

That is the will to win.

That is doing our best.

That is the spirit of squeezing the towel dry.

What do you will to do?

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