Puppy Lessons

Sometimes I don’t know what we were thinking. Empty nesters on the “older” side of life and here we are with a new puppy. In fact, we drove 30 hours round trip to pick up Rip, a Portuguese Water Dog, who certainly is a “rip.” If you forget what a puppy is like, especially a working dog full of vim and vigor, it’s about testing authority, getting into trouble, peeing in the house, and just being a puppy. But that puppy is dependent on you for everything. To keep him/her safe and fed. Without you, a puppy is lost.

I know it’s crazy but I’ve been reflecting on my relationship with our new puppy and my relationship with God. I test His authority all the time. In fact, I test His bounds of authority. It’s all about me, as Rip is all about him. I screw up all the time. But I know God looks into my face and just smiles. God has a warm heart just like I have for Rip, no matter what he does. The difference is God doesn’t get mad at me, He just continues to love me unconditionally, no matter what I do.

Putting myself in the paws (BIG paws) of a puppy may be a strange way of looking at my relationship with God. But it works for me. I am totally dependent on God for life and daily sustenance. Without God I am lost. God is everything to me—or should be everything to me—as Rip is to me, especially when he needs me, is hungry, and needs some attention.

A puppy keeps you young at heart! And a big smile on your face. You may get upset at times when the toilet paper gets unraveled all throughout the house but the look in those puppy eyes heals all anger. I’m no puppy, although I may act like one at times, but there is a lot to learn from my puppy and reflecting on my relationship with God. I’m simply lost without Him!

Have a WONDERFUL week heading into Christmas!!! Blessings and peace as we celebrate the birth of our Savior!

Who Are the Children of God?

You. Me. Everyone past, present, and future. Pretty simple. We are all the children of God. I have to remind myself of that when the guy at the gym let’s his mask slip down on his face. When the woman in the 15-limit line at the supermarket has 35+ items. When someone cuts me off in traffic. When one of the many holier-than-thou pundits on TV talk down about everyone else. The list goes on and on. No matter what someone says to you or does to you, we all have one thing in common—we are all children of God.

God created each one of us in His own likeness. His DNA is our DNA. God is the builder and He is the lover. He loves us all equally and unconditionally. That’s a far cry from us. We expect love to get love. And we certainly don’t love equally. In fact, we don’t love—or even like—many people around us. We typically don’t even think about strangers at all.

As this Christmas season counts down, my goal is to try to view everyone I encounter as just another child of God. As a brother and sister. I’m trying to think about the birth of a child that was sent to save us in the ultimate sacrifice—giving His life. The gift of Christmas to all His children is the gift of salvation. A gift given equally and unconditionally to each one of us. The children of God.

Have an OUTSTANDING week ahead!

Mulligans

I like to think of the New Year as giving me a second (and third, fourth, fifth, etc, etc.) chance at renewal. There’s something psychological about the fresh start the New Year brings. Dieting, exercising, being a better person, doing something different with your life, whatever. The New Year gives us another chance at changing. But then it hits me that God gives us a second chance every day. In fact, every second of every day. And God doesn’t count how many mulligans (sorry; that’s golf for “do-over”) He gives us in life. They are infinite.

I love the fact that Christmas is a week before New Year’s Day. It reminds me that God gave His only Son for us to give us all those mulligans in life. Jesus wiped out all our sins—past, present, and future. They are all forgiven if we just acknowledge them and ask for that forgiveness Jesus was born into our lives on Christmas morning. So, the new year may be psychological but it’s not important because, in a way, every day is New Year with Jesus in our lives.

We all screw up. Some  more than others (I’m in that camp!). I love what St. Paul says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15). Bingo!!! That’s me. I know what I should do but I don’t do it. That’s why I need a lot of mulligans. It’s pretty amazing that the guy (Paul) who almost singlehandedly spread Christianity to the world knew that he screwed up. Guess I’m in good company.

Thank you Jesus for those mulligans!

Wishing you the very best of the New Year ahead. Blessings, joy, health, and prosperity!!!

The Season of Expectations

If there’s one holiday that’s about expectations it’s Christmas. Whether child or adult, there’s that expectation of Christmas morning and the opening of presents. Whether you focus on getting or giving, there are expectations all the same. I get it and have the same expectations. But this season I’m trying to focus my expectations on Jesus truly being born again in all our lives. I’m not taking the fun out of Christmas. Just trying to focus on what Christ(mas) is all about. Christ, birth, and beginning.

It’s harder than ever to not get swept up with the commercial side of Christmas. Putting up the tree and all the directions, shopping online or at the store for presents, and baking those Christmas cookies. We even ventured into New York City for dinner with friends and we’ll be back for a family dinner next week, when my niece turns 21 the day before Christmas Eve, when my brother turns 50. Great time of year!

But in all the season rush, I’m trying to stay focused on the main even. The birth of Jesus Christ. Because that’s what this is really all about. Not a birth that took place 2,000+ years ago but a birth that should take place in each one of us on Christmas. Our expectations should be met by that birth and the joy, peace, and gratitude that comes with it.

Try to keep your expectations focused on the really important thing this year. Spend some time thinking about it and taking it all in. Seemingly “insignificant” people from an “insignificant” part of the world giving birth to a child in a barn in a manger where the animals feed. It’s a seemingly “insignificant” event that was the most important event in the history of the world then and ever to come. Try to make it the most important, significant event in your life!

I’ll try to write again by Christmas but if I don’t, let me wish you all the peace and joy of Christmas. Enjoy!!!  

Giving Thanks (for Real!)

OK. Thanksgiving, a time with an emphasis on eating (way too much), is over, we’ve survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and the Christmas season is in full force. In fact, it seems it was in full force three weeks or so before Thanksgiving with all the decorations already out! We give a lot of lip service to giving thanks at this time of year and preparing the way for the Lord but the commercialism of the season often drowns out the real giving of thanks. Don’t let that happen!

If there is ever a time of year we should give thanks, reflect on everything we have in this country, and truly prepare for the birth (rebirth) of Jesus in our lives it’s this time of year. This should be a season of giving, smiling, and helping anyone in any way possible. Simply put, it’s a season to be nice.

I’m first in line for taking for granted everything I have, from the little things to the big. But I’m going to do my best this season to be thankful, to be happy, and to be helpful. There is so much (and so many) that divides us. To make us unhappy, and downright angry. I’m going to do my best to be the opposite. In my own little way to be a uniter, rather than a divider. I can’t change the world but I can sure try in my own little way. Change happens one person at a time.

Wishing you the very best of this thankful season that really should prepare for the way of the Lord in our lives!

Polyester, Not Cotton!

Boy, life has a way of smacking you in the face. I was walloped the other day as I set out on my way to work. I have an office in Washington D.C. and when I’m there, if the weather cooperates, I walk the 1.2 miles to work. I set out the other morning on a cold but beautiful day, invigorated and bundled in my long wool coat, scarf my wife gave me for Christmas, and my favorite Ugg gloves. Then, I learned that you have to wear polyester because if you wear cotton you’ll freeze to death sleeping on the Metro grate. Whack to the side of the head! 

As I came out of the coffee shop with my hot chocolate and croissant, there was a man sitting on a stoop with a cup asking for money. I stopped, dug into my pocket, and pulled out some bills. As I handed the money to him, he pointed to another man asleep on top of the grate to the Metro (the D.C. subway system), where warm air rises, and told me the guy was lucky he didn’t freeze to death last night. He schooled me on the fact that if you’re wearing cotton close to your body it will absorb the warm but damp air and will freeze. You can literally die, especially when the temperature falls to single digits, as it did that night. You have to wear polyester.

I walked away all bundled up headed to my warm office with my hot chocolate and croissant with my head spinning after that wack to the side of my head. Yes, I had given the man money.  I stopped and talked to him. I said, “God loves you!” But why didn’t I give him my hot chocolate and croissant? Why didn’t I give him my gloves and scarf—even my coat? After all, Jesus said, “Give to everyone who begs from you…” (Luke 6:30). That includes the shirt off your back!!!

I don’t want for anything. But others do. It was sobering to learn my polyester lesson. That was further brought home by Gloria. But I’ll save that for the next post.

Don’t turn your back on anyone in need. There are so many who need so much. I realize I have to do more. A lot more!!! Polyester, not cotton!

Enjoy the day and have a WONDERFUL week ahead!

Every Day is Christmas

It’s over. The decorations will come down. The bells will stop ringing. Blink and stores will start selling Easter candy. Christmas is over. Or is it?

Wade through all the commercialism of Christmas and there is only one thing Christmas is about: celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. If you focus on the true meaning of Christmas, then that’s all it’s about. That tiny child coming into the world, living as a tradesman in obscurity, until around 30 years old started a 3-year or so mission that changed the world forever. And will change us is we bring Jesus into our minds, hearts, and souls!

Every day should be Christmas! We should wake up celebrating Jesus coming into the world, coming into our lives every day. And it’s a celebration like none other!

It’s the 26th of December, the day after the “official” celebration of Christmas. But celebrate Christmas today, tomorrow, and every next day forever. Every day should be Christmas! That’s the real beauty of celebrating Christmas.

Merry Christmas!!! I pray for peace and joy in your life this day and every day to come!

Judge or Judged?

Are you a judge? I have news for you—there is only one judge and He is God. And we are all equally judged by the One Judge. In this day of social media, almost everyone is a judge. It’s easy to send out tweets left and right, or blog to your heart’s desire, judging this person or that. Heck, the news today is all about judging. It’s easy to judge. But what’s REALLY hard is looking at ourselves and thinking about how God must be judging us. Ouch!

The good thing is that God doesn’t judge as we judge. He doesn’t sit all high and mighty like we do looking down on others. God loves us equally and unconditionally. So his “judging” is out of love helping us to find our way. We “negative” judge. God judges “positive.” It’s a hard concept to wrap your head around but it makes sense if you think about it.

If you want to go on judging others, then expect to be judged in the same way. Jesus instructs us all too well in this as He says…

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,’” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:1-5

That’s a big WOW to think about. Look at the plank in your eye before trying to remove a speck from someone else’s.

I’m going to try and look inward today at the big plank in my eye. And thinking about what God is thinking about that.

Have a GREAT day as we approach that AMAZING day when Jesus is born in our lives and hearts!

Shine Your Light!!!

If there is ever a time of year to let your light shine—and brightly—it’s the Christmas season. A bright light in the sky showed the way to the birth of Jesus, who brought light into this world. And each one of us has a light that we need to let shine on others—and brightly!

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭

I’m not talking in riddles or religious mumbo-gumbo. I’m talking about the light of goodness, kindness, charity, and all that is good shining forth from you. And actions speak way louder than words!

We live in a world that seems to be getting darker by the day. Just look at the headlines.

If every one of us let our inner lights really shine—smile, pay it forward, give to a homeless person and/or a charity, sing, whatever—one by one we would make the world a brighter place.

If there ever is a time to let your light shine it’s this season!!! 

Merry Christmas!!!

I don’t just wish you a “Merry Christmas” today. I wish all of you, regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the true meaning of Christmas—joy, love, and peace in your life today, in 2017, and beyond.
 
It’s bad enough we live in a divided world, but our country is more divided than ever before in modern history. So, not just for one day, but for all days, let’s each try to spread some joy, love, and peace. If we are going to heal, we need to heal ourselves and help others heal.
 
Merry Christmas!!!