“To Thine Own Self Be True”

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At this point in the year we are about five month’s away from our most recent new year’s resolutions.  Where are you with those resolutions?

A number of people will say that they stopped making new years resolutions.  When asked why, they will tell you that they do not like setting themselves up for failure. The question: is not having a goal easier than pursuing a goal and not reaching it?   At that point, mediocrity has been embraced!  We are guilty of being poor stewards of that which has been given to us. “Well done, good & faithful servant” becomes elusive.

When I was young my parents sent me to Camp Miniwanca, in Shelby, Michigan.  At this camp I had an opportunity to meet kids from all over the country and engage in activities that I had only dreamed about.  This camp has a motto that is compelling: “My own self, at my very best, all the time.”

Now, fifty years later, I find myself reviewing that input and how it relates to my personal commitments.  If I believe that I am really called to be my very best, all the time in the context of being me….then I charge into life with a different intensity and a different focus.

Resolutions can become those destination points on a map that orient our journey & provide a sense of direction.  They become a grid that empowers us to move forward.  Just as easily they can  become a measuring stick that is used to inflict inadequacy and shame.

Often times we see resolutions through the lens of success & failure.  When we waffle on the performance of a resolution, we allow that to define us & we confirm our worst fears. We toss in the towel with one defiant, all or nothing, sort of gesture. We let go of the resolution and we give up.

There is another way.  It is the way of those who catch a vision and keep moving in the direction of that vision.  It is the way of those who hear a call and respond to it. It is  the way of those who run, walk, crawl….those that keep moving forward.  It is the way of those that keep the promises that they make to themselves.  After all that is the core of personal integrity & that is what wins the day.

These people grasp onto their goals & resolutions in order to become the people that God has designed them to be.  They are the people who understand:

“The essential thing in heaven & earth is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; the results…… something which has made life worth living.” (Nietzsche)

So the question this day: Will you reengage with your resolutions?  Knowing that your success or failure does not define you.  Know that you have been called to keep the promises you make to yourself and to your Lord.  Ultimately, maintaining a long obedience in the same direction, will win the day and you will glorify Him!

How are you choosing to engage this day?

Please share your thoughts with all of us!

Embrace the Adventure!

-Dick

Be Encouraged!

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Sitting in deep leather chairs that seemed to swallow the occupants, the question was asked: ” Who uniquely encourages you?”

The silence was deafening.  Slowly, as if from another life time, the leader said: “I am not sure there is anybody that uniquely encourages me.”

That seems to be the dilemma of the ‘corner office’ occupant.  They are responsible for many….at home and at work, but no one seems to have the courage to care for them.  Or if they have the courage, they do not think they have the ability.  And in the vacuum the individual feels alone and often, quite isolated.  But this isolation is not reserved for the corner office….it exists for all of us.

What does it take to permeate the cloud that speaks of loneliness?  The first lesson is learned as we examine those who uniquely care for us & encourage us.  What goes on that makes us feel uniquely important & valued in the eyes of another?  I would suggest that how we engage speaks volumes.  When a ‘true friend’ walks into the room their whole countenance seems to activate and to speak of the great pleasure they are experiencing as they encounter us.  They are excited to see you, to see me!

They are genuinely interested in what you have been up to.  How your life is going and what you have been doing that has put a smile on your face.  They are interested in you!

They are not asking you about you so that they can tell you about themselves.  It is ok, with them, if they never talk about themselves, because they are so interested in you.  And they are not only interested in what you have been doing but they want to know about your heart. They want to know about your joy, your sorrow, your excitement, your frustration and everything in between.  They understand that the events of life are one component of the story and they understand that how we feel about those events is the other key component!

It is in the knowing and being known that we experience true intimacy, great encouragement and significant caring!

There is another ingredient that they bring to the encounter.  They bring a good memory.  They seem to remember who I am and what my interests are.  They remember what we talked about the last time we were together and they ask me how my world is going from the reference point of our last conversation.  It is almost as if they had been praying for me.  And if they say…..”you have been in my thoughts and prayers!” There is an authenticity to their words.  Their memory and their words speak volumes.  I am important enough for them to remember.

In the Gospel of John 4:7-21, we encounter a story of significant care and encouragement.  Jesus meets a women in a life situation and cares for her and encourages her in ways that are transformational.  We are called to care & encourage others in significant ways. Do not hold back!

Realize that you have little competition when it comes to being a care giver….therefore, excel in how you care & how you encourage!!

I believe the journey will transform you!

Embrace the Adventure!!                                          Please share

your thoughts!

Grasp the Silence

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Words, they are every where and they seem to bombard us in every possible way.  Our technology allows us to be connected to one another & to our culture, every hour of every day.  The din and the noise, the wordiness of our world seems to boil up into a raging cacophony that can over whelm, disorient and disconnect us from ourselves, our world and our God.

So, what happens when we turn off our technology…..all of it? What happens when we encounter the ‘sound of silence’. When was the last time you drove your car and you did not listen to the radio?  Where did your mind take you? Were you surprised by your thoughts? Did you encounter your inner noise?  What did it tell you, about you? Often I turn on the technology & embrace the noise because it helps me to escape….what am I escaping from….Me!?

When we encounter silence, how do we understand it? When there is silence in a relationship, what do you do with it?  Often we label it as an ‘awkward silence’ and we fill the void with our own words.  But as we fill the silence with our words, we can easily forget that silence is a profound form of nonverbal communication.  We often interpret the silence through the lens of our own insecurity. At that point I start to wonder if you heard me? did you understand me? did you agree with me? did I upset you? do you like me? am I ok? do you think I am stupid?  My conclusion…..I upset you! I should have kept my mouth shut! You do not like me, I am not ok!

I turn on the radio, I increase the volume…..I cannot handle the messages in the silence!

What happens if we start to embrace silence and we see it as a gateway to connection?  If we sit quietly with another, can it be a form of transcendent intimacy that is transformational? Can our presence be an affirmation?

God calls us into silence & solitude.  As we encounter Him in that place….how do we interpret His silence?  If we interpret it out of our insecurity we might cower & hide.  I would like to suggest that we interpret His silence through the lens of His incredible love. I need to focus on the fact that He made me, He called me, He empowers me, and He allows me to be an agent of His reconciling love in a hurting world.  The messages in the silence do not mean He does not care.  They easily can mean that he cares and he wants to be with me in the intimacy of solitude.

This day, I challenge you to turn off the technology. I challenge you to meet Him in the intimacy of silence.  Allow His love to surround you!

Please journal about your journey into silence & solitude, that you might record what you have learned and experienced.

It would be a courageous blessing, if you would share your insights with us.

Embrace the Adventure!

Yours and His, Dick

True Adventure? Really?

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Not too long ago someone inquired: “Tell me about your greatest adventure.”  I think they wanted to know about far away places and ‘daring do’, that which put me right on the edge of life and death.  Quite quickly I mentally indexed a list of such events and I did not mention one of them.  Why not mention them? Because, I started to think about the dynamics involved in a good adventure and that is where the intrigue lies.  If we just look at events, without understanding dynamics…..one person’s adventure can be another person’s walk in the park.  And this, quite quickly devolves into one story trying to out do another story…. male macho banter.

A good adventure lives at the intersection where excitement and uncertainty/fear meet.  There is something about the situation that challenges us to engage with the totality of who we are….we are totally present to the given moment.  Therefore, we are focused and fully alive!

We also know, deep down, that we may or may not successfully negotiate the situation. We might be a raging success or we might be a total failure.  The potential for success and the potential for complete failure is a significant part of what makes an event an adventure.  It is living into the risk of failure and/or rejection that invites the grandest of all adventures.

At this point, climbing a frozen water fall might be much easier than walking into an AA meeting.  Floating the Grand Canyon might be a paddle on a pond compared to working on your marriage. Helicopter skiing in British Columbia might be a gentle swish in the park compared to teaching a Sunday school class.

So, what allows us to dare greatly? to risk significantly? to embrace life fully?

We must come to realize that our success and/or our failure does not define us.  What defines us and what allows us to live into the adventure of being vibrantly alive is the God who made us.  You see, He made me in His image. He called me into a relationship. As I respond to that call, he indwells me with His spirit. I become an agent of His incomprehensible grace in a hurting world.  I can risk greatly because my inner self is wrapped up in Him!  It is not wrapped up in my performance!

What grand adventure have you been called to undertake?  Does it wake you up early and command all of your attention?  Does it engage you so that you are vibrantly alive?  Are you compelled to dare greatly!

Go for it!!