Thursday, October 21, 2010

Looking for fun and feeling guilty!


That's how I feel anyway. I don't even know where or how to start this blog entry. It takes a lot for me to even be here. I feel I should have caffeinated myself last night and stayed up all night to work, like I did the night before. I feel like I should be doing the impossible and working three times as hard without much sleep, if any. Now, because I didn't stay up, I feel overwhelmed thinking I'll never get anything done well with so much to do. Where is my God in all this? Why has He abandoned me to suffer like this?

"If you have so much to do, then why are you...?"

Writing in my blog? Good question. I must be here. At times like this, I must be careful not to give way to negative thoughts and energy. It can be very draining and make it even harder to get anything done. Writing helps bring clarity to how I will approach my day. Sometimes, just the title of a book can be thought-provoking to me. I still have such a book I used for a college course many years ago. I believe it was in English I. The book title is Thinking in Writing. That's what I'm doing here.

"If you are a Christian, then why aren't you...?"

Joyful? Great; more guilt! I'm reading a book with my wife each morning called Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper. In it, the author clearly states his case, based on biblical scripture, that suffering is the means by which we bring glory to Christ (and, as a Christian, that is our purpose). We should rejoice in our suffering (James 1:2-3). In contrast, Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks about 'cheap grace' in his book, The Cost of Discipleship, which is the grace of the gospel accepted superficially when the love of Christ should change a life radically. There is the avoidance of suffering and the seeking of the comforts of life in cheap grace.

Where is the radical change in my life? Actually, that's what I'd like to know. Sure, I'm suffering through a lot of stress brought about by financial difficulties. But, this is not the kind of suffering I imagine John Piper, or Jesus for that matter, means. (I think of persecution, not prosecution.) Rather, I feel like I'm being tested here. God is testing my faith. Where will I turn when things are tough? Undoubtedly, the devil relishes in the murky despair I feel over of my situation, and gladly pours on the boiling guilt to prompt me into panicky action, promptly neglecting to pray.

Writing is my opportunity to "resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). I am here, writing in my blog, to rediscover my faith and "be still and know that [He is] God" (Psalm 46:10). It is through my writing that I come back to what is important, listen to my heart, and feel inspired and, possibly, be inspirational. Writing is my radical change.

So, how do I feel now? Calmer, much calmer. Confident that God is with me through my suffering, no matter how unbiblical that suffering may seem. I did not write just now because I sought comfort, yet it was comforting. I see now that my suffering for Christ starts with merely confessing Him, and I can certainly rejoice in that. I can wipe my tears of self-pity and make it through another day - with joy in my heart, and praise and thanksgiving on my lips. You, dear reader, have a joyous and blessed day yourself, for "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24).

Special thanks to Milli for leaving such a timely comment in my previous entry.

PS - The title of this blog was taken from a line of a Simon & Garfunkel song (The 59th Street Bridge Song) except the original word was 'groovy' not 'guilty'.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Then & Now and Now & Then

Two years ago, I said I would follow my heart's passion and write more. (Write to Heal) I've written a few entries since then, but this hardly constitutes evidence of my heart overflowing with creativity.

I need to 'fess up. Most of my entries were lessons given, not lessons learned. In 'Write to Heal' I made myself vulnerable and it was appreciated. I was encouraged by the feedback. And I learned a lot.

I recently told my wife I wanted to write again. I needed that creative outlet. She said, and I paraphrase, "Well, you usually write about ideas and stuff. Why not write about you?" She told me the story of another relative who writes and concluded, "Know what I love about his writing? It's real. It's inspiring, but it's really him and things he goes through, good and bad."

I thought, "I could do that." (Actually, I already knew I could do this because I've done it!) I not only felt I was wasting my talent (if I may be so bold to admit to having any), but I was hiding behind it, too. Most of my blog entries here barely scratch the surface. Vulnerability? Nah! It's merely a flesh wound! ("What are you going to do? Bleed all over me?")

Be prepared to squirm. Be prepared to cry and sometimes sob. Be prepared for a genuine belly-laugh. Be prepared for bitter-sweet laughter. Be prepa... - I'm talking to myself, by the way - for open honesty. Be prepared to be scared. Be prepared to love and be loved. Be prepared to be hurt and feel lonely. Be prepared to know real joy and peace.

I want to - scratch that. I will write about my current faith and my childhood experiences; my struggles and fears; my many losses and stupid mistakes; my roles as family, friend, father, and husband; my pursuit of work and desire for play. In the end, I still have hope. In fact, I have more hope than when I started. But not in me, however, in Him. I'll tell you something about that soon, maybe next in my next blog entry. Until then, it's now and then.

Disclaimer - My intention is to inspire others to be genuine, vulnerable, and follow their hearts. In the process of being real, I may offend some. For this, I apologize in advance. Please forgive me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Be grateful, all the time.

If you cannot find time, make it.
If you have time, take it.
If you took time, be grateful.
Be grateful you found time.

Time when needed can never be found,
yet time not heeded can easily be lost.

I made up this little poem to remind me that I can always make time, take time, and that it starts and ends with being grateful.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Simple Formula for Success

I was recently listening to Earl Nightingale's program called "Lead the Field". In it, he talks about many fundamental truths about success. For example, he says, "luck is when preparedness meets opportunity, and opportunity is always there." In other words, if you seek to have good luck, get prepared for the opportunities that already surround you. Here's another gem...

I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.

Rabindranath Tagore

The formula for success is simple, and its beauty is in its simplicity.

I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
First, you will find yourself sleeping, but that first discovery is key. The power of awareness is the seed of change. Now that you know you're sleeping, dream of what could be. Here, it is revealed that life is joy. What is your dream?

I awoke and saw that life was service.
Second, the clarity of your dreams - what you want and why you want it, both in detail - will open your eyes to see tasks that maybe, just maybe, you can do. Why, of course you can do these tasks given to you! But doubt and fear will try to persuade you otherwise. Conversely, you will not see these tasks if you do not dream, or if your dream is not clear enough.

I acted and behold, service was joy.
Third, do the tasks you now see with the purpose and vision of pursuing the very dream(s) that shed light on these actions. You will discover the joy of the journey. Happiness is a direction, not a destination. In addition, that discovery will never cease to amaze you. Let it be a profound source of wonder as you discover that, after all, life is joy, just as you dreamt.

My journey includes...
Personally, I love certain famous quotes because they help me stay focused on my journey. At first, it can be easy to see the pursuit as fruitless when we encounter difficulties. After a while, we see the difficulties as necessary challenges that help us grow. After that, we come to know that growth is what makes this journey, called life, such a wonderful adventure.

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt.
- William Shakespeare

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.".
- Henry Ford

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
- Marianne Williamson

The key to a successful journey is momentum.
To venture on a new path is exciting, even exhilarating, at first. It would be wise to note that the burst of energy is there for a reason. Your environment must also change in order to support the journey. Your immediate surroundings, however, sometimes known as your comfort zone, will insist you do not risk the unknown. This is an illusion. For the real risk is in not changing. Change is inevitable. Growth is not. Build momentum with focus and enthusiasm. What's your intention?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ascend and Give Off Luster

or... Rise and Shine!

What does that phrase mean? Does it mean to ignore your early morning grogginess and make your best effort to smile? I hope not. In most cases, that wouldn't be pretty. Does it mean to begin each day with enthusiasm? Hey! I like that idea. But, can you force it if you don't feel it?

Perhaps it means something more. I like to think of it as meaning to intentionally change so as to mature and inspire. I need to be careful of lateral growth. I really don't need another extremity! Yet, I can often find myself thinking small, as if I'm afraid of the light that is within me. That light can inspire others to grow without my even trying. Exposing my light can give them permission, hope, and courage to introspect and discover their own light. Imagine how bright the world could be!

Deep down, I know the characteristics of maturity: integrity, humility, generosity, wisdom, thoughtfulness, godliness, etc. On the surface, the child within me frequently holds me back. He is afraid he will get left behind. He worries that his needs have gone, and will continue to go, unmet. But, I only need to embrace him and ensure him that he'll be right by my side, close to my heart. I will love and protect him. I also love the quote, "Everyone has a Higher Power, and you're not it." It reminds me that there is a huge chasm between saying I believe in God and actually believing Him. Acknowledging Him through prayer, meditation, worship, and study of scripture, is a key aspect in the growth of my soul. Otherwise, I find that it was merely my ego that expanded.

What is light? In a word, truth. What is my light? The truth as it applies to my experiences: past, present, and future. I must remember, however, that I can never truly relive my past, nor am I truly alive in a period for which the time has not yet come. Life is always in the present. I can learn from the past. I can hope and plan for the future. The more I am in the present, the more I am alive, and the more I am alive, the brighter my light and the longer its tail.

Yes, rise and shine is a daily reminder. But, it means more than smiling or forcing enthusiasm at the dawn of each day. To me, rise and shine is a personal and powerful invitation to be the man I was created to be, even if it scares me. I've heard that courage is not the absence of fear, but being afraid and doing the fearful thing anyway. I pray that God will grant me the strength and courage to accept and fully embrace such an invitation. That is the essence of my daily prayer.

By the way, the early bird gets the worm, but the worm gets no sleep. I'd choose the early bird. What's your choice?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Think About It

Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. --Phillipians 4:8 (English Standard Version)

Why 'finally'? Because the end of all things is never about getting. When you think about the fine things of life, you are motivated to participate in life. To participate fully, you must give. The most precious thing to give is yourself. Fear not and do not be anxious, for we all shall receive when we give. (As ye sows, so shall ye reap.) But receiving should never be the reason we give. Instead, fill your thoughts and your hearts with beauty and truth; you will discover the meaning of life, even in the midst of disaster and death.