Thursday, July 30, 2015

Holding Hands

I’ll tell you right up front that I am going to go in two different directions with this post so hang on. 

Part One

Have you ever tried to hold hands with God? 
I don’t think that is possible, however, I do think God can hold my hand and that makes all the difference in the world.  I am using a metaphoric play on words here, and I know my readers are smart enough to catch my drift.

When I join hands with my grandkids I’m the one doing the holding.  I don’t want them darting out into traffic, or falling or wandering away.  I want to hold my grandkids hands. 

And I want God to hold my hand.  I can be strong-willed at times and I don’t always make great decisions.  When I really give up my will in the hand-holding and allow God to lead the dance, I find that things seem to work out better.  My life becomes a bit more orderly and my timing improves. 

When God holds my hand, He knows what is best for me and that includes all the details down to who, what, where, when and why.  Have I ever stepped out of line with God before? Absolutely.  And I always find a way to wander back by His side and slide my hand into His and allow the dance to continue and allow Him to lead the way. 

Part Two
And my second thought is this …

The hand I hold is the hand I love the most,
for it leads to the heart that loves me like I’ve never been loved before.  Carolyn and I love to hold hands as we walk.  Just tonight after dinner we took a walk up Sunset and back to our car.  We held hands for 99% of the way.  We broke long enough to smell some lovely roses and maneuver a broken part of the sidewalk.

Carolyn not only holds my hand, she holds my heart.  She holds my secrets, my dreams, and my bucket list.

She also holds my broken moments, the stuff we talk about that I share with no one else.  She knows how I really feel about a lot of stuff, and she loves me through it all.

And I do so for her.  When she comes home after a long day of teaching, I stop writing and take my hands off the keyboard.  Those first few moments when we come back together after being apart are critical.  

We also make a habit of rarely ever pulling out our cell phones during a meal. We would rather talk and listen, and look each other in the eyes.

We focus on each other when we talk.  In the automobile, she reads to me as we drive, and we’ve read some amazing books during our almost nine years of marriage. 

I hope you’re holding a hand that leads to your lover’s heart.  I hope your hand and mind and eyes and heart are totally open to receive all that your partner offers you.  I hope you find a lot to talk about, laugh about, and explore together. 

I hope you discover that the hand you hold is the hand that is holding you back.

Thanks for taking this walk with us tonight.

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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Instruments of Healing

In our advanced medical society mankind has created an amazing array of instruments that are used in healing.  Some are large, expensive and foreboding.  Others are small and sharp, and require great skill in simply
manipulating them. 

And the greatest instrument of healing available to us is …

Our Words.

“Honest, heartfelt, well-chosen words have the power to heal us and make us whole.”  (That is a quote from The Four Things that Matter Most by Ira Byock, M.D.)

In our quest to develop good and wholesome relationship we use words as our main tools.  Often, misunderstandings can arise.  Feelings can get stepped on.  And the right words can help move us toward the emotions of love and trust. 

I remember when Carolyn and I were in the beginning days of our relationship.  As she expressed it, my words to her offered healing, reassurance, emotional support and a sense of trust and belonging.  A few years before we met she had come through a rather painful experience. 

Words were very important, and so were the actions to follow.  I’m thankful she accepted my words and my actions, for we are approaching our ninth wedding anniversary.

The words we hear in everyday life can have such a profound influence on us that words can raise or lower blood pressure, elevate skin temperature, and enhance our concentration or disturb it as we try and process the words we’ve just heard.

A quick example:  During my days of being a youth minister, I had it said to me once that “You are an accident looking for a place to happen.”  Even thirty-eight years later those words still have some sting to them.

Words can bring others back from the abyss of despair and hopelessness.

I remember reading How to Win Friends and Influence People.  Dale Carnegie tells the story of a poorly dressed beggar he met on the street.  Considering his book and the principles he had promoted, he wanted to throw this man a lifeline of hope rather than ignore him.  He looked the man up and down and finally said, “I like how neatly your shoe laces are tied.” 

The very next day Mr. Carnegie’s secretary buzzed him and said there was a gentleman waiting to see him.  When Mr. Carnegie approached the well-dressed and freshly shaved man he had no recollection of ever having met him. 

The man finally spoke and said, “Perhaps you don’t remember me.  Yesterday, I was at my wits end and was ready to go down and throw myself into the river.  I decided to give it one more shot, and that is when I met you.  Your comment about my shoe laces gave me a glimmer of hope that if I could do that one thing well, perhaps there are other things I can do well also.” 

Words have tremendous power.  They can bring life to a lifeless soul.  That is the main reason I have named my imprint 
Offering Hope, Encouragement, Inspiration one word at a time.

When we speak the right word at the right time we have the power to give strength, renew faith, rekindle hope and restore a sense of dignity.

Will you speak some healing words to someone this week?  Feel free to use some of these or think of your own. 

You’re going to make it.
We’re going to be all right.
You Can.
You have it in you to do well.
I believe in you.
You have been a major influence on my life.
You are almost to the finish line.
You inspired me today.
You helped me when I needed it the most.

Words are instruments of healing.

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

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Broken Spirit

(When the milk is splattered all over the floor and those little eyes are looking at you for your reaction, remember what really matters.  
It takes 5 minutes to clean up spilled milk; it takes much longer to clean up a broken spirit.) 
~Rebecca Eanes

This photo speaks to me on so many levels.  The last line says it so well:

“It takes 5 minutes to 
clean up spilled milk;
it takes much longer 
to clean up a broken spirit.”

After 6 years of blogging, I know that I write to a whole bunch of people who sometimes have broken spirits.  I can relate, for I am a recovering broken-spirited one.  On too many occasions, I have received a rebuke for my clumsiness.  I was expected to be perfect – walk perfectly; sit perfectly; and this gem:  “Speak up boy, don’t mumble your words.” 

Any time I would fumble, fall, step out of line or violate any other invisible infraction of which I knew nothing about, I would get a rebuke. 

So, for all of us with broken spirits and bruised lives, where is the hope? 

Part of our hope is found in some fine books.  Other places that house hope are safe and reasonable adults, therapist, and professionals who will guide us to a more level ground on which to rebuild our fractured lives.

The part you’re not going to appreciate is this – we sometimes have to dig out our own hope from whatever we can piece together from the shards of our everyday life.  

We may find bits and pieces in our reading material, our friendships, our therapist, and even our God experience.  I add this last one cautiously, for sometimes, the very people who claim to hang around God and speak for God are some of the worst abusers of the “breaking the spirit” crowd. 

Please listen very carefully to my next words, for I don’t want to be misunderstood.

I have a personal relationship with God through Christ.  I know where I stand with my Heavenly Father and I enjoy his abiding spirit in my life.

I’ve been exposed to multiple “religious” slants all attempting to interpret God’s wishes for how we should conduct our lives.  I find many of them harsh and grace-less. 

These teachers/preachers leave most of their audience members living with fear, guilt, shame, and living with a broken spirit, much like the little girl in the photo at the beginning of this article. 

What I have found helpful is this:  I have a select few Bible passages that are of great comfort to me, and I have a few affirmations that I resort to when the old recordings haunt my mind. 

Last week I posted some ideas from the book The Four Things that Matter Most.  It begins with four phrases that we need to be saying to those especially close to us.

Please forgive me
I forgive you
Thank you
I love you

A broken spirited person desperately needs to hear some of these phrases, for their biggest problem is this; they fear they are of no value, they have no worth, and there is nothing much of value that they can offer to anyone.  And that breaks my heart.

Besides my own very personal Bible verses, I’ve added to my life a few affirmations such as:

I approve of myself.
I am a worthwhile human being.
I am not my failures.
One step at a time is the way to where I want to go.

These are not magic elixirs.  They have no special magic, for as surely as I gravitate to these thoughts, others of you will gravitate to your own thoughts from completely different sources.

The point is this – you must find what works for you and the people who speak to your own heart and mind.  Above all, begin repairing your own broken spirit today. 

I have poured out my heart to God on numerous occasions, and I’ve done it through prayer and through something called “Morning Pages”, an idea taken from Julie Cameron’s book The Artist Way.

A partial list of some of the authors who have helped me are Brennan Manning, Philip Yancey, Brene Brown, Henry Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal, and so many more.  I hesitate to list a lot of books or more Bible verses or affirmations for fear you will adopt my list of helps and not dig these out for yourself.

You see, it is the digging for oneself that is the important principle here.  We have to do the hard work.  We have to find what works for us as individuals. 

Bottom line – a broken spirit can be repaired.  It can heal. 

And God stands nearby and will help you.

I will be praying for you.

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

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Four Things to Say

I am big on words and the power of words, for I believe that the words we use in everyday conversations have the power to heal others. 

That is a strong statement, yet it is true.  Words can heal.  

They can heal …
  Broken hearts
      Family wounds

I am barely into a new book, yet I dare to write about it already, meaning this is not the last time you’ll hear from this book.  It is titled The Four Things that Matter Most by Ira Byock, M.D.

I’m going to give the story away right off the bat. The four things you must say to the most important people in your life are these:

1.     Please forgive me.
2.    I forgive you.
3.    Thank you.
4.    I love you.

Even as I type these phrases I can feel emotions well up from within.  I can reflect on times when I’ve asked for and received forgiveness.

I recall a time or two when I was the one offering forgiveness.

I say “thank you” a dozen times a day or more, and still yet need to offer those words more.

And the “I love you” words … my goodness, I have a lot to say on that one.

If you missed this point in an earlier blog, I told the story of occasionally sharing a Sabbath experience with Carolyn’s son J Paul and his family.  The Sabbath time is a time of feasting, game playing and sharing.  The sharing is done with a cup of water and a towel. 

As the cup is passed from Carolyn to me, she says “Michael, you are loved and forgiven.”

I would then take the cup and towel and pass it on to the person on the other side of me and say the same words.

I can’t begin to tell you how this moves me each time we share in this experience.  I hope you will try it in your intimate circle of family and close friends.  Write to me and tell me of your experience.

For those who know me from my Toastmaster’s days, you’ll recognize the similarity between these four phrases and the speech I’ve given dozens of times now called “Wanted – The Three I’s”.

I hope you’ll stay tuned, for I’ll break each word phrase down over the next four weeks and explore each with you a bit.  It would be fun if you chose to buy the book and read along as we go through this series.  I imagine this will prove to be one of the more significant books in my library and one into which I will dip often.

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

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Your Voice

Your voice is as unique to you as is your DNA or your fingerprint.  How do you use your voice? 

I have used my voice in a few different ways in days gone by.
A drummer
A minister of music
A conductor
A salesman
A marketing manager
A banker
An educator
A writer

Bill and Melinda Gates use their voices through the incredible money contributions they willingly give away around the world. 

In the Gate’s Foundation visitor’s center, we find this simple admonition

You, yes YOU, can do this.  The word ‘voice’ is nothing more than a metaphor for some act, some skill, or some donation each of us can make to this world. 

And are we willing to use our voices for good?

I could now give us a long list of ways in which you and I could use our voices.  Rather, now that we have a handle on this concept, let us find ways to use the voice that is within each of us to improve the corner where we live.

Yes, some will actually use their voice.
Others will make something, or donate, or paint, make music, and on and on.

Find your voice and let it sing to the world.

We want to hear and see your song.

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