Gratitude & the Lost Art of Disagreeing – The 3 C’s—Challenge, Choice & Change

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I write and post this Rambling. I wish everyone of my followers a very Happy Thanksgiving. Check out this short video on gratitude and seeing the “beautifully” things in life.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj2ofrX7jAk&sns=em

 If you were to wear a t-shirt with your personal motto for how you try to live your life, what would it say?

Here’s mine. I would leave it at that with the hope that an inquisitive soul with something on their mind other than the weather or sports would ask me about the 3 C’s.

T shirt moto
Thankful, Gratitude, and 3 C’s

 

Challenge, Choice, and Change

I am very thankful for many aspects of my life: my children, my health, my extended family, my friends, and the service of those around me who are selfless in their acts. This is not to say my life is perfect—as I (like most people) have been dealt some cards in life that I would not choose. However, I do have a choice as to how I will live my life despite adversity and challenges.

I believe life deals us cards that God knew were going to be dealt. I also believe he watches with anticipation as to how we actually respond as compared to how we should respond.

Over the past few years I have learned about the power of intentionality, thankfulness, and gratitude as they are at the core of who we are and who we become. What do you think?

As I sit here this morning, I’m reflecting on this very aspect of life and how I do my best in responding to life’s challenges and the cards I’ve been dealt. My response may be dramatically different than how others react. I need to be true to myself and do what is right, whether someone is looking or not. I believe we must stick to our beliefs and our values. Isn’t that one of the great things about life? Everyone is entitled to have opinions of their own, however, the ways we react and express those opinions impact ourselves as well as how those around us view us.

This brings me to the 3 C’s:

  • We all are confronted with Challengesthat’s part of living a wholehearted and engaging life. We are dealt cards not expected, we are confronted with outcomes we may not agree with, yet not everything outside our “personal desires” needs to be a challenge, some are great opportunities.
  • With a challenge we have a Choice as to how we react and behave. With an inquisitive mind and by asking questions we may learn another perspective. If we can master the ability to be agreeable in what may be a disagreeable situation we do not alienate others. In fact, if we can find a way to express our personal perspective which may disagree with others, in a respectful manner, we may alter the other’s perspective whereas if a disagreeable reaction is done in an argumentative and attacking manner it only alienates the relationship. We have a choice!
  • Change becomes an option to consider, not easy to do, but clearly possible. You can change your perspective, change how you engage in a positive, respectful manner. Although you may disagree with something or someone else, portraying an open mind brings the relationship closer. There are times that agreeing to disagree is alright as we don’t need to agree 100 percent with others to maintain a robust, intimate, and caring relationship

All too often, thankfulness and gratitude have become a lost value and art.

 I am not implying that everyone has lost the ability to kindly express opinions and objections without being snarky or causing someone to feel they are “walking on egg shells.” Nor do I believe everyone has lost the ability to be thankful or filled with gratitude. What I am attempting to express is that far too often we fail to object and express a counter opinion in an agreeable fashion and to express and demonstrate thankfulness and gratitude. Sometimes we may go on the offensive, think we have “won” an argument or discussion, only to later discover we lost a great deal, perhaps even a relationship. Have you ever been in a situation where the recipient of a gift reacted in a way, either verbally or nonverbally, that said, “this is not what I want”? Perhaps the message even went as far as to say until they got what they wanted, the relationship would not move forward. We have all been told, “life is not fair.” Fairness is most often in the eye of the recipient. However, I believe what is truly fair is the choice that God has given us to act with grace and gratitude. God sits back to watch if we have chosen to accept these gifts or reject them in the spirit they were given. Far too often people are so inward, so self-centered, so entitled, that they win the battle but lose the war as a recipient of opportunities. To live as though everything has to be done our own way or to our own liking, I think, in my opinion, is an incredibly sad way to live life.

During this Thanksgiving week, I wish all of you a Very Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving. May you find time to reflect on the gifts you have been given, to be thankful for the bountiful blessings you have, and to look outward and demonstrate with gratitude how fortunate you are.

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Your Most Valuable Currency

When it comes to currency, what are you carrying around with you every day? If someone asked you to empty your pocket, brief case, or purse what would they see? What might those items reveal about you as a person? If you don’t mind, dig in now and see what you find. Think about these items and the importance they hold in your life as well as what they say about you. When you leave the house for the day, what do you make sure you bring with you?

Think about each item and ask yourself, how important are each of these items?

Debit or credit card: Yes, that piece of plastic can bring about instant gratification for our wants as well as the necessities. How many do you have in your wallet? What if you were without your “cards” for one day. Would you survive? Most likely you would.

Cash: Like your debit or credit card, cold hard cash facilitates our daily wants and needs. What is your philosophy about how much you carry with you? What does the amount you carry say about you?

Driver’s license: What does your ID say about you? While it shares some personal information about us (hair color, height, weight, home address) it would be hard for someone to learn much about us simply by looking at it. It certainly says nothing about how we live our lives or what we believe.

Address book:  Perhaps you have an actual address book, is yours full? Or maybe your phone serves as your address book. I’m guessing it includes contact information for your good friends, family members, colleagues, your doctor, your barber or hair stylist, and more. Some of these individuals know you well. Are there a few that truly know who you are at your core and understand your values? Or, perhaps in place of an address book someone could look at your Facebook page to find a list of your friends. Our address book and/or Facebook friends can offer a glimpse into who we are as we often associate with others who have values similar to our own.

I received this on my Facebook page a few months ago. . .it does make me smile. facebook 

A book: We may choose books that challenge our intellect and expand our perspectives, or perhaps they relax or entertain us. Books allow us to dream, think, and reflect. Books add substance to life, to conversation, to relationships. Books can open up the world for us and take us outside our “bubble.” The books we choose can help define (and in some cases, refine) who we are at our core. An acquaintance once suggested, “Give me five minutes to walk around a person’s house, see the books on their shelves and what they read, and I will tell you a great deal about who they are.”

Cell phone: Depending on how it is used, our cell phone may hold greater value than we truly appreciate. Yes, we can contact others quickly with a call or a text. And while many of us may feel we’d be lost without our phones, in truth, our phones, like the other items listed above are simply tools, impersonal forms of “currency.” While none of these items are critically important in defining who we are, they are, arguably, necessary for making our 21st century living a little easier.

I believe there is another kind of currency that brings relevance to our lives, a currency that is far more valuable than anything else referenced, a currency that, like a brand, reflects who we are in the world.

What is the currency that defines who we truly are, not just what we do or have—What currency reflects what is at our core and can positively impact those around us?

IT IS THE CURRENCY OF: INTEGRITY, TRUST, LOYALTY, PASSION, FAITH, and COMPASSION.

Integrity – Do you do what is right regardless of whether there’s someone watching?

Trust – Do you do what you say and say what you do? Do those around you know you can be counted on?

Loyalty – Do you stand by those around you, are you an ardent supporter of your friends and associates? Will you tell them when they are right and when they are wrong?

Passion – As defined by Encarta, passion is “the object of somebody’s intense interest or enthusiasm.” Are you committed with enthusiasm to a person, purpose, cause, or idea? Are you eager and enthused to see results and to help others succeed? Can you express yourself through an attitude, behavior, or intense action?

Faith – Do you believe in a higher power? Do you believe what you cannot touch and have faith that we are not in absolute control? Do you have a belief that guides your attitudes, behavior, decision making and how you interact with others?

Compassion – Compassion, according to Encarta can be defined as having “sympathy for the suffering of others, often including a desire to help. I may challenge the word “sympathy” as it can portray a negative connotation, I feel that “empathy and active, intentional care” is a better way to define it. To have compassion is to have a caring heart that is selfless and outward in how we live our lives.

Lastly, I would like to add LOVE to this list of currencies that define, shape, and reveal who we truly are at our core.

Fill your pockets with real and lasting currency! Are you happy or content with the amount of currency you’re carrying around with you, the kind that defines and shapes who you are? What could you do to increase it?

The Art of Letter Writing to Keep Relationships and Our Memories Alive

I was reading through some of my past Ramblings and rediscovered this post from 2016. I find it is still relevant to me today. I’ve edited it a bit and would like to re-share it with you. Perhaps you’ll find something of interest in it as well.

Repost from 2012 and 2016 – I was recently in New York City and visited the 9/11 Memorial located directly across Remembering 9-11 Coverfrom where the World Trade Center towers once stood. During my visit, I came across this book, Remembering 9/11. The memorial and the book triggered a flurry of memories of that tragic day. I was moved by the items at the memorial that represented all those people who lost their lives that day. Moreover, I was touched by the letters from family members and friends whose lives were forever changed by the tragedy of that day. Those letters stirred up memories from my own life, particularly memories of my dad, who passed away in 2006.

Not long after this NYC visit, I ran across the letter I had given to my dad three months before he lost his battle with cancer. I had written to him as I reflected on the great Strommen Forgivness and Grace Photo- Dadmemories I had and I wanted to thank him for who he was and how he had impacted my life. That letter became the foundation of my talk at his funeral. As I re-read the letter I found the deep emotions of his loss surface along with many wonderful memories of him. The letter brought back into clarity these important memories and I recognized the power of the written word to help keep memories and feelings alive in my heart and fresh in my mind.

This was again reinforced on Mother’s Day when I was in Naples visiting Mom. We were having brunch with our pastor, Rev. Steve Wigdahl. He mentioned he had written his mom-and-bobmother a letter and mailed it—not that a phone call would not suffice, but he thought a letter would be something that she could touch and read time and time again until he saw her again. As Rev. Steve said, this is the great aspect of letters that we have forgotten and lost in this technology-focused world of ours.

These experiences have helped me to be thankful for my life and memories, both the good ones and those of events I wish had not occurred. I was blessed as a child growing up. I was blessed during the years my own children grew and developed. I remember the wonderful times of our family camping trips and experiences and of being engaged in my children’s activities and their career development as they matured into the great people they are today. I treasure these times and am constantly reminded that while the details of these memories may fade a bit, they cannot be lost or forgotten. We need to remember the wonderful nature and importance of family.

I encourage you to sit down and write your parents a letter if they are still living and thank them for all they have done over the years. Write letters (and mail them!) to your children reminding them how important they are to you and how proud you are of them (regardless of their age). As the Caribou Coffee slogan says, “Life is short, stay awake for it!”

“Cherish your memories and write a letter to those you love!”

 

Finding Happiness Knowing When to Say “No” and When to Say “Yes!”

walk outsideI’ve recently had two remarkable experiences that are so closely tied together in an absolutely unintentional way. Were they an accident? Probably not.

This Rambling was inspired by an article I came across recently in USA TODAY about “happiness.” It caught my attention because I’ve personally been reflecting on the idea of “joy.” I believe happiness can come and go so quickly while joy or joyfulness seems (to me) to be the bedrock of a wholehearted and fulfilling life.

What is the difference between “joy” and “happiness”? Here are some thoughts on my perspective:

Happiness is a temporary state of mind about how we are feeling; it’s short-lived. Happiness is like hunger: When we are hungry, we eat and are no longer hungry. A sense of happiness needs to be continually fed. Don’t get me wrong, I love being happy. When we are happy it activates our endorphins, which makes us feel good. But happiness can be fleeting and temporary. It is triggered by something we see, someone we are with, a great experience, a personal accomplishment, or seeing the accomplishments of a family member or someone we care about.

Joyfulness is far deeper, far more meaningful. I find it tends to linger longer than moments of happiness. It adds substance and resilience to our life. The depths of joyfulness can carry us through those times in life when we are experiencing sadness.

When I was younger and in the earlier stages of my career I was driven to succeed. I kept my calendar crammed full. I would always make room for one more appointment, one more opportunity to engage, one more opportunity to prove to myself and others (including my friend and mentor, my dad) that I could do it! It was nearly impossible for me to ever say “no.” What I have since learned (that was also highlighted in the article) is that I was cheating myself: I was not giving those around me the quality time they needed. I just wanted to “get it done” so I could move on to the next thing. I felt good, I think I was happy, yet I did not have a foundation of joy.

I just returned from my first ever solo vacation with Backroads, a travel company that organizes biking and hiking tours for like-minded professionals. I signed up for a bike tour through California wine country including Sonoma and Redwood. I made the decision to do this over six months ago as a way of saying “YES!” to Bob and “NO” to a work schedule. I made the decision to embrace life and to expand my experiences, including meeting a new array of friends. I wanted to leave my comfort zone and add to my inner perspectives on life, culture, and people and to challenge myself to do something new and fun. I found not only happiness, but built a stronger base of joyfulness from this experience. I said “NO” to a few days of work commitments and “YES” to my soul, my heart, and my mind. I came back better as to who I am, what I want to be, and with a new commitment to embracing others and life experiences.

As I was sitting having a leisurely breakfast before leaving Sonoma to return home, I was reflecting on my experience and how I was feeling. I opened the USA TODAY newspaper and there was an article that popped up in a section I normally do not read: “Finding Happiness through NO.” I smiled at the coincidence of my just completed experience and the article that landed in my lap. This article tied my past few days together and reinforced that this will not be my last experience to wholeheartedly expand BOB, to embrace life, and to embrace new friends around the country. I’m glad I took the time to read the article as it added so much to my engagement with those I’d met on the trip.

So, I’ll share with you some of the questions that I ask myself:

  • Do you experience happiness? How do you define it?
  • How do you handle sadness and disappointment?
  • What are you doing each day to strive for happiness? How focused are you on the negatives?
  • Where do gratefulness and grace fit into happiness?
  • How do you define being joyful?
  • Are you intentionally striving to have an inner feeling of joy and if so, what are you doing?
  • What else can you do to enhance happiness, build on joyfulness, and be more resilient during times of sadness?
  • How do you think you carry yourself when happy, when sad, and when you have joyfulness?
  • Have you ever thought about the lasting and powerful impact on wholeheartedness and intentional living when your bucket is being filled with a deeper and more meaningful feeling of joy?
  • Are you thankful for your gifts and blessings? If not, get out in the world and experience the others, their lives, problems and joys. By doing so, your paradigm on life and your blessings will dramatically change.

Be happy, yet strive for being joyful and thankful for all the blessings and gifts you have been given, earned, and learned through intentional and wholehearted living

Civility

I was given an article found in the Mpls Star and Tribune this past weekend from a very good friend that struck a cord that is the basis for this rambling.

“6 Steps to Make America Civil….and a little greater”

This is not a very creative personally thought out Rambling. I feel that rather than attempting to make my own creative commentary on these “6”, I am proving a copy of the article for the substance of this Rambling as I feel the article expanded enough on the “6” that it created sufficient insight for all of us to consider as we live our lives and engage in those around us.

ENJOY……

Civility 3Civility 4Civility 2

Keep these “6” posted on your refrigerator, on your computer, in your thoughts as civility leads to such great outcomes!

 

 

Tackling Fear, Developing Trust, & Embracing a Wholehearted Life

Welcome to Season 3 of my Ramblings. Let’s start off with a challenge and consider that perhaps we should give our brains something better to do than watching the news or dwelling on the past. They can both bring you down!

You become what you think about all day long.                                                                                                  –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Stop and think about this statement, it sounds simple enough, but after a period of reflection the deeper meaning becomes apparent and the need to put this into action can create either a sense of fear and challenge or (if we’re lucky enough) comfort.

It sounds so easy, “do not dwell on the past,” but as intelligent creatures, our brains have a magnificent capacity to remember, especially when it comes to relationships. There are things in our lives (perhaps from a past relationship) that can hit us at the core of our heart, mind, and soul that are difficult to move beyond. The problem is if you don’t deal with something, it can manifest into an unhealthy mindset whether you are aware of it or not. Instead of simply dwelling on something, tackle it head on and resolve it so that it becomes part of your “conscious intelligence” and not a behavior flaw that prevents you from living your life in a wholehearted and healthy manner. We can become intentional in living out what we have learned and use it to strengthen our relationships moving forward.

I find that getting really personal, really vulnerable, not just with others, but with yourself requires the ability and acceptance of giving up some control.

I am not sure what is most difficult and creates the most fear: wondering what may happen when you “give up” (or share) control or actually having the courage to give away some control to someone else. I believe it’s an act of vulnerability. I have struggled with this for a long time and have discovered that allowing others to be in control is liberating. It helps us build relationships, create intimacy, comfort, and trust. Is it possible to have mutual, or collaborative control? I am of the conclusion this is called “a partnership!” whether it is in business or our personal life.

What do we gain when we release our grip on control? We can be more relaxed and have more meaningful experiences in our personal and professional relationships. We gain increased personal value and productivity. In business, we can develop a more positive and creative work environment. In our personal lives, we can gain a more meaningful and closer connection of the mind and soul with our partner that has priceless long-term value. In both our professional and personal lives this value carries us through the inevitable ebbs and flows of life especially when we encounter detours and roadblocks. When we build relationships that have trust at their foundation, we can not only survive life’s challenges and conflicts, but flourish.

So how is this done? I can only share what has worked for me.

  • Reading: What a miraculous discovery! (I wrote about this in an earlier blog) As I have spent more time reading, my perspectives have changed. I have created more depth in my life and find that I have more meaningful conversations that go beyond chatting about the weather. And it has shaped my heart, too. Reading books on diverse topics has clearly helped improve my relationships. I believe you need to love yourself and value yourself before you can offer love to someone else (particularly romantic love). Remember the saying: “Beware of the naked man who offers you his shirt.”
  • Life experiences: We can either live in a bubble, or go outside the bubble and experience life. Think about the Caribou Coffee slogan: “Life is Short, Stay Awake for it!” For me, staying awake requires engagement, leaving my comfort zone, and experiencing life through travel, volunteering, and social engagement. When I travel I try to intentionally absorb what I’m seeing and experiencing and learn from it.
  • Recognize that change is good: (but it can also be very difficult) I believe we can experience borderline dysfunctional failure in our personal and professional life3 C's of life when we continue to repeat the same mistakes and get the same unsuccessful outcomes. If we do not like the results we’re getting, we need to work on discovering the trigger points and commit to changing. But it needs to be for your reasons, not anyone else’s. However, while the reasons need to be our own, it doesn’t mean we need to do it by ourselves. . .
  • Get help from others: We cannot stop growing and must get help from others who are objective and have a caring heart. I spend time with a pastor and a mentor who are teaching me about wholehearted living. Need a kick start on doing some of this work for yourself? Check out Brené Brown’s Ted talks and then read her book The Gift of Imperfection. Adopt her trust process of BRAVERY and start living a Wholehearted Life! I encourage you to listen to this from Brené Brown on how empathy helps us create connection with others: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw&sns=em
  • Develop a friendship with someone who truly and deeply understands you (and vice versa!). Allow for emotional intimacy as it will carry you farther in life thanFriendship is the secret physical intimacy (but don’t dismiss the value of physical intimacy). You can develop intimacy through vulnerability, passion, and wonder—I believe this is a God-given gift that is the foundation of LIVING A WHOLEHEARTED LIFE. A truly intimate relationship will carry you through the difficult times as you live your life and get older.
  • Develop a few MARBLE JAR relationships. These are based on:
    • Trust
    • Vulnerability
    • Empathy

Embrace life and challenge fear head on! Live like there is no tomorrow. Develop strong relationships, a sense of grace, and the belief of being truly blessed.

Elephants, Haiti, and Life Experiences = Growth and Being Alive and Present!

I have been thinking about what topic I might use as my final Rambling for the season. I’ve been waiting for just the right trigger—something that touched my heart in a way that is worthy to write and Ramble about. Once again, this Rambling is being guided by something far greater than myself.

On the surface, the three elements of the title for this Rambling appear to be far ranging elephant whisperand diverse. However, the idea came to me as I was finishing the book, The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony, as I was flying home from Haiti. Perhaps it was a combination of reading this book and reflecting on my trip and my experiences. Or perhaps there was a gentle hand being placed on my shoulder saying, “This is it, Bob!” that triggered this Rambling.

Everyone has their own life path as to how they achieve personal growth. Take this Rambling as a summary of mine and feel free to use what applies to your own life. I write these Ramblings as a reflection of my thoughts and with the desire that they challenge you, the reader, to determine what applies to your own personal life, even if it is just a simple sentence or random thought. I hope these ramblings provide value. Perhaps you can reflect on this in tandem with a significant person in your life. I believe this kind of reflection on life can help create an amazing intimate union. (That in itself is a life lesson I learned, somewhat painfully, due to my own immaturity and being overly prideful.)

Life can hand us some unplanned challenges to the heart and soul. We can be kicked in the head and stabbed in the heart. We retreat into our shell of self-pity and a “woe is me feeling.” However, while I was in Haiti working with a team from Haiti Teen Challenge, I was reminded of my own personal blessings. I was quickly humbled and ashamed of the thoughts and feelings of self-pity I’ve had. I was reminded of the power of faith, selfless acts, compassion, and the heart-healing benefit of servanthood.

IMG_7338IMG_7311Haiti Child

 

 

 

Haiti Teen Challenge brought me back to the greatness of family, devotion, learning, stretching personal boundaries and comfort zones, and standing up for what you believe, not to please those around you, but to stand firm in who you are with grace, vulnerability, and courage. Yup, life experiences do shape your purpose and who you are if you let them. A vulnerable, open, and courageous heart can be filled in a way that you cannot imagine if you let it and rid yourself of shame, guilt, and being prideful and instead, live with courage, transparency, and vulnerability. (Boy is that easy to write and say, but so painfully hard to put into practice.) It takes time to learn how to do this effectively and naturally and to have the courage to accept that there will be mistakes during the learning curve. However, as I am learning, perseverance allows us to take small steps in the right direction that slowly shape who we are and how we live and who we become.

I’ve often heard, “It is who you are, not what you do, that is critical.” (In the past, my family of origin clouded that understanding.) Today I feel so blessed that I understandHaiti Bob and Children the core of this statement as never before. It is now part of my internal mantra—I constantly remind myself of it when I get too caught up with nonmeaningful self-indulgences and prideful beliefs.

As I end this season of Ramblings, let me share some reflections and thoughts I gained from The Elephant Whisperer, thoughts that I am learning to embrace—maybe one of them will resonate with you, or trigger another thought that is critical to your life.

There are no walls between humans and elephants except those we put up ourselves, and until we allow all humans and elephants their place in the sun we can never be whole!

Every wild thing is in tune with its surroundings, awake to its fate and in absolute harmony with the planet, and focuses on what is around them. Humans, on the other hand, tend to focus introspectively on their own lives, too often brooding and magnifying problems that the animal world would not spend a millisecond of energy on!

When communicating with animals, it is critical to understand that their language, their communication, is a two-way flow of energy . . . when it has been received, you must let them know that their communication has arrived. If you do not, there is no communication! It is that simple, just like earthly and Godly relationships!

Always treat those magnificent animals with absolute respect! (Something we need to do with those around us, too!)

I will return later in September. I pray that you have received some value in reading my Ramblings this season.

HAVE A MAGNIFICANT SUMMER MY READERS. GO OUT AND EMBRACE LIFE AND YOUR PURPOSE!

Filling the Soul and Life of Others, Drip by Drip

Drip by Drip—on the surface it may seem like torture, it may seem that you cannot takeDrip by Drip anymore as you wait to fill a glass, drip by drip. And then, once you think you have filled your glass, you find there is room for more, or, you spill some of it. This is so true of our lives: We work to fill ourselves up but then we make a mistake, and we lose some of what we’ve worked so hard to achieve. It seems there’s a constant need to continue Water glassfilling the glass. We can do this through purposeful, selfless behavior, growth, and actions. By surrounding ourselves with relationships who will challenge us and add perspective that may very well be different than ours. How healthy is that? Immensely!

Recently, I was reading about the process of becoming a person of true faith and conviction. It involves three actions: Believe, Receive, Become. This not only pertains to faith but many aspects of a meaningful life and relationships.

I also read an article posted by Shaun Shelton on LinkedIn that struck me. The title of the article was: Speaking vs. Doing.” Shaun stated, “I can’t help but notice that the vast majority of speakers out there aren’t actually doers. Sadly, they talk the talk, but are unable to walk the walk . . .”

This article was a great reminder that walking the talk is critical: Do as you say and say as you do! It’s how we fill up our glass, how we lead a full, rewarding real life. It enables us to tell the truth about our experiences, experiences that are both good and bad.

Truth (being real!) reminds us what is really important. 

Esteli, Nicaragua 2017 –  I continue to be reminded and amazed by the impact of going Vilma and Family Greetingon a mission/humanitarian trip, not just the families and individuals we serve, but those who serve as well. My latest Habitat for Humanity trip was no different. This trip took us to Nicaragua and the town of Esteli. We had the privilege to build a home for Vilma, a grandmother, her daughter, Heidi; and her granddaughter, Roxie. The home they were living in had dirt floors, porous walls, and a tin roof. The home flooded during the rainy season.Vilma Home

Each day, Vilma and Roxie greeted us as we arrived in the morning and waved goodbye as we left in the afternoon (the mother had to work long hours hand rolling cigars). One afternoon, little Roxie gave me a freshly picked blue flower with a smile that said “thank you” as only a child can. Such a series of gifts of heartfelt love and appreciation asBob and Roxie with Flower expressed in their greetings, saying goodbye, as well as the gift of the flower from Roxie communicated their deep appreciation. It was a true pleasure to build a cinder block home for this family who were so genuinely gracious and appreciative. These actions in themselves were a lesson and lasting take away for us. Despite a total communication barrier, it was clear that the family deeply appreciated this gift. It greatly impacted me and those who worked on building the home.

Doing little things to express gratitude is not just important, it is everything.

As I flew home following the trip, I reflected on the experiences and gifts I’d received, it felt good!

To give and to mentor is good for everyone; the givers and the recipients gain significantly and change lives.  

LAVA LAMPThe Lava Lamp of Life

 Isn’t life interesting? Once you have committed yourself to “receive and to belong” you can later reflect on the journey you have taken as well as what lies ahead. It’s like a lava lamp (remember those?). Think about what you see when watching a lava lamp. There is this slow meandering rising of the oil to the surface; it takes its time, doesn’t flow in a straight line, and eases into differing shapes. It eventually rises to the surface and then sinks and the process continues. Isn’t this symbolic of life’s journey? Yes, as long as there is resilience and a commitment to moving, changing, and growing, as long as we can trust the process not knowing the outcome. If there is trust, we know that every time life brings us down there will be something that buoys us up again.

Our life and our relationships also undergo this type of process of morphing and change. All we have to do is trust and open ourselves up to being vulnerable, real, and transparent.

Back to my opening paragraph and DRIP, DRIP, DRIP! Each drip contributes to filling up our glass. Like the drip from a faucet, it takes time, patience, and persistence to fill up our souls through meaningful and wholehearted actions. It is inevitable that there will be some spills along the way but we continue to work on filling ourselves up, drip by drip.

I am learning that we need to give of ourselves out of love and care and not be looking for what is given back to us. Here is my parting thought:

Grace, is an easy word to say, but difficult to actually live out in its truest sense.

Amazing Grace is servanthood to others when they are in greatest need and we receive nothing in return.

It is a Good Day Every Day, not just on “GOOD FRIDAY”…….

Staying Aware and Intentional. An impromptu and my shortest rambling.

As I was at the cabin this past Friday and Saturday, I watched two Documentaries, “Planet Earth” and “Poverty Inc.”. This morning as I return from my Men’s Group, I have been struck in a far different way by all of these events in a way that 2 years ago would never have hit my consciousness as it does today and has prompted this short rambling, Ponder these thoughts;

    • As you look closely at the delicate way that the world is balanced and continues to thrive, ask yourself: “Is the way the seasons, earth positioning to the sun, the moon and how it effects the earth, the interplay of the seasons around the world, miracle of birth, of the plants and living organisms, a result of evolution or was it in the image of something far greater than evolution?” “I believe is it was an intentional creation that has evolved as it did not “just happen!”
    • Our need and desire to selflessly serve is part of being a meaningful person! Once the need for humanitarian help has passed, to serve is to teach how to fish, not to give fish, or is giving “fish” enough?
    • For those who believe. Honoring GOOD FRIDAY is only right and worthy of a meaningful THANK YOU! I believe that additionally we need to embrace that each day is a “good day!”. I am of the belief that we should stay intentional in our beliefs, gifts, blessing and remain aware of how our life is guided and touched.
    • Finally, are we thankful, and have we acknowledge our appreciation, for the input and guidance received by those around us who can challenge our thoughts and enhance our perspectives?

HAVE A GOOD WEEK!

What It has meant to me to be “One of the Seldom”

A Personal Thank You! Thank you readers for allowing me into your life with my Ramblings” I hope my Ramblings fit into the “value to read” category for you and that perhaps there have been a few crumbs you have found of value that maybe moved your own very personal needle a bit.

In early March, 2016, I posted my first Rambling. The last 13 months and 30 postings have gone by so very quickly. It is startling how fast life and time pass by. I want to say Thank You to you, my readers, for reading, commenting, and following my Rambling posts. Over the last year, there have been more than 4,100 views and 2,050 visitors from more than 6 countries.

These Ramblings have allowed me the opportunity to share my thoughts, vulnerable feelings, and life lessons learned. At the same time, I hope these ramblings have challenged you to reflect on things that may be applicable and important to your own life. Personally, the last 1½ years have gone by at warp speed, representing a period of growth, change, and maturity that has been remarkable, fun, sad, exciting, and rewarding. This time has been filled with humbleness, regrets and gratitude. As I write these adjectives, I am a bit overwhelmed by the bandwidth of outcomes and the emotions that have come from this process of growth, change, and maturing. To be a vibrant person, there will be more to come as without growth there is a loss of wholeheartedness and opportunity.

I was told not that long ago that change cannot be trusted. Prior to my father’s death almost 15 years ago, I often heard my father say, “People change but seldom!” I am so pleased that I AM ONE OF THE SELDOM. I believe change can be trusted when you can look at it with an open heart and mind. In a recent Rambling, I wrote about how the two sides of a piece of paper are like our lives: One side represents our exterior self that everyone sees and the other side represents our interior self (who we are at our core) that others feel. There is a process of growth, change, and maturing we can take to make our behavior (our exterior self) reflect our values or faith (our interior self). I am learning that this has been a process, was not an event. “Baby Steps!”.

When attending a workshop or conference listening to speakers, I seldom agree with all that is said. I am sure much like my Ramblings and how you react to things  I have written. However, if I can walk away with a crumb of “that was a good thought,” then the speaker was of personal value, then I have moved the needle of being a “better me” a degree or two in the right direction. I hope my Ramblings fit into this category for you and that perhaps there have been a few crumbs you have found of value that maybe moved your own needle a bit.

I am grateful for you, my readers. I am grateful for those who have sent me personal notes at my email address, challenged my writing and commented on the site, reactions on Facebook and LinkedIn. For all of you I just want to say, THANK YOU! Each of your comments and perspectives have been helpful and of value.

In June, I will be wrapping up this second series of Ramblings before I take a break for the summer. I have three more to write before this break. I’m already thinking about the general theme for the fall 2017 series of Rambling posts. I am sure that I will capture interesting thoughts and provocative and challenging questions from travel experiences, a church class I am co-leading this fall and  books I’ve read  or will be reading over the coming year to challenge myself and rambling readers on various aspects of life, relationships and living with meaning, substance and wholeheartedness.

Once again, thank you readers for allowing me into your life with my Ramblings.