Got a Problem?

Got a Problem?

I recently read that we are not here to solve problems but problems are here to solve us. We all intellectually know that hardship can teach us important life lessons, but usually these problems catch us by surprise. Sometimes they pull the rug right out from under us, shattering our sense of peace. We want to use these problems and turn them into opportunities. But how should we approach these situations to turn adversity into advantage? Remember this admonition you were taught as a youngster approaching an intersection or a railway crossings and any potential problems to STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN? I think that this advice can help us with our problematic situations and lead us to fuller lives. STOP – Pause wherever we are to assess the circumstances. Slow down, breathe. (Some problems take our breath away, or cause hyperventilation) When we are caught up in the maze of daily activities, situations seem like a nonstop bombardment leaving little precious time. Our situations may have changed needing redirection. Stop! LOOK –Now that we have stopped the flurry, we have the opportunity to assess our plight. Understand the difficulty. Focus on the real issues. Perhaps looking at these plights from another point of view may help. Look “inside” for the answers. Look! LISTEN – We will find all the answers we need if we listen within. We will never go wrong if we follow our inner counselor. As Saint Mother Teresa reminds us that in the silence of the heart, God speaks. Listen! God may be inviting us to change, to become more tolerant, kinder, more patient, more humble,...
We Owe as Much as We Need

We Owe as Much as We Need

All of us human beings struggle to get things right. We never seem to get it right the first time. Cultural norms, social pressures, and self-imposed high expectations sometimes forget this crucial point in being human. We judge, evaluate and criticize, not only ourselves but those around us. This constant mindset of comparison, appraising, and assessing our surroundings is useless. (Although that’s the way that many of us were raised…things were either right or wrong, black or white, “my way or the highway”) And trying to “go it alone” may sound like an aspired ideal of individualism, but it won’t work in the long run. We are each on our own personal lifetime journey. It’s a road paved with life lessons to be LEARNED by trail, error and help! No one just bounces into this life perfectly acting out every moment. No one “gets it all” nor can they do it by themselves. We are born into communities of families, neighborhoods and towns. We are social beings who, as the Beatles lyrics remind us, “…I get by with a little help from my friends”. God gives us enough adversity for growth and learning while providing us with enough joy for true happiness. God works through us providing these various opportunities. We need to get clear and remember more than anything else: we all need to loosen our grip on the idea of perfection and we all need and owe all the help we can get and give. So let’s be open getting and giving help, and never hold back. Our reward will be watching each other grow while fulfilling...
Let God Be God

Let God Be God

God will overflow your cup, so grab the biggest one you can find. – Rob Liano It’s difficult for us to imagine the immensity of God’s affection for us and how big it really is. God truly delights in our being happy and giving us whatever we need – food, friendship, comfort, reassurance and challenge, forgiveness and strength. God gives us all that and more, in abundance. Unlike our limited humanness, there are not any limits on what God’s willing to do for us. God’s love for each of us is excessive and unconditional. It does not make a difference what we do or don’t do, God will always love and provide for us. Now, if all this is true, the fear and anxieties we sometimes have about God and about life are really crazy. Can you see how foolish it is to worry that God may not forgive us, or may abandon us, or may expect the impossible of us, or not give us what we need. To give credence and power to those kinds of fears is to ignore a world full of evidence to the contrary. Look around at the everyday miracles of life. God’s winks, God’s invitations and God’s love surround us. It’s time to stop shrinking our great Creator down to our own size. It’s time to let God be God for us. We have seen God’s grandness and graciousness to each of us a million times over. It’s time to trust that graciousness, to trust that God’s big enough on the inside to handle anything, even our smallness of heart. So why not...
Trustees, Not Owners

Trustees, Not Owners

We all try to make our lives as comfortable as possible with our many earthly blessings and gifts. But don’t get too comfortable. We merely pass through this life on our way to the next. All we have and all that we are, we have been given on loan by God. We are entrusted to care for these gifts for a short time until we reach our final destination. Until we come face to face with the Giver of all Good Gifts. Just what does God ask of us in return for these gifts? God asks that we be good trustees. God asks us to acknowledge, to wonder, to delight, and to be grateful by putting these many gifts to good use. How is God’s investment in you paying off? Will you and I have to face God with empty hands? Here’s a quick inventory? Imagine for a moment that you just have a few hours to live. It’s too late to change anything. You needn’t bother packing because baggage is not allowed. All you’ll be taking are your memories and your own heart – whatever you have become on the inside. What would comfort you and give you peace at that moment? What memories would make you say, “I’m glad that I lived; it wasn’t wasted. I can’t wait to see God and show what I’ve done with the life I was given?” What would allow you to say all that? It wouldn’t be memories of a barn full of stuff, or memories of having built the biggest this, or bought the best of that, or become the...
How to Survive on the Rollercoaster!

How to Survive on the Rollercoaster!

We all know that life is a gift. This precious existence takes us on the ride of our lifetime. Life is like a roller coaster. Life is made up of an endless succession of highs and lows, laughing and crying, triumphs and tragedies. It can be very confusing. Just when we think we have an understanding and a grasp God pulls us in a different direction. So how do we keep going? How to make something valuable out of the odd assortment of stuff that we find on our doorstep every morning? How do we survive success? How do we live through the losses and pains? The answer is we don’t – not if we try to do it alone. What life asks us to do, to be, to give and to endure is quite impossible – alone. Although life may try to trick us into thinking that we can go it alone, experience has shown us that’s a lie. God is whispering to us on a daily basis. Listen to your own breathing…and feel your life’s blood coursing through your veins. All the marvelous things, great and small, complex, intricate and beautiful surrounding us are God’s reassurances that we are never alone. God is everywhere with Love, surrounding us with miracles and gifts. Our Creator is inviting us to open our hearts to find our strength and comfort for the journey. God is calling out through all of creation, “Look what I’ve given to you. Trust me.” Diana Ross sings about such trust – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. Remember these lyrics? “If you need me, call me....
Attitude is Everything!

Attitude is Everything!

I had to laugh when I read: “It’s been ‘one of those days’….3 years in a row.” But sometimes that is just the way we feel….maybe for 3 years. Hardship makes us feel out of control, not deserving of this suffering. Why me? We sometimes lose hope not seeing light at the end of the tunnel. No one can help. And God seems far removed in silence, not offering any answers Adversity, no matter to what degree, is a part of life. It’s an essential lesson in this “School of Life”. Adversity calls for the old fashioned virtue called Perseverance. For me, perseverance conjures up the mental image of bundling up in a parka, mittens, boots and scarf, working to maintain my balance braving the bitter cold gusts of a Midwest winter. This “stick to it” attitude, this “braving the elements” mentally keeps us on our course of action and purpose in spite of all the obstacles, difficulties or discouragement. We gut it out, not matter what the situation. We keep jumping through whatever hoop life might put in front of us. We build up stamina. We exhibit tenacity. We extend our endurance. Looking in the rear view mirror you can see that you have survived the storms. So you are a winner, batting 1000! As we plod through the syllabus of our own life lessons, let’s arm ourselves with the mental attitude of perseverance, remembering what Winston Churchill admonished. “If you are going through hell, keep going.” Because nothing lasts forever! Keep your thoughts Positive! Remember, Attitude is...