What’s in Your Dragon Hoard?

dragon hoard

You might be thinking, “I have no hoard of gold; this post isn’t for me.”

Think again.

Some people seem very much like dragons: their sole passion in life appears to be amassing wealth, often without regard to those they trample in the process. Some, like Smaug, are so fixated on their hoard they know when one little piece is stolen and go to great lengths to protect it.

The rest of us are not so fixated on money.

Or are we? Continue reading

Books, Deep Thoughts, and Talking Vegetables

guy with book

So, what awesome book have you read lately?

I love to read.
I love to talk about books.
I love to recommend great ones to my friends.

  • Because they were such a delight to read.
  • Because they were packed with fascinating (and possibly useful) information.
  • Because they make me think.

So I thought I would share my favorites with my blog audience.

For starters, I’ve created a new page called Thoughts on Books where I will list my favorite recent reads along with a brief description of the book. (And a link to any posts where I discuss them.)

Second, from time to time I’ll write a post about a book worth discussing. Not a review, per se, but a commentary on what struck me the most as I read the book. What fascinated me? What challenged me? What resonated? What jarred?

So, here goes…

My thoughts on Me, Myself and Bob: A True Story about Dreams, God and Talking Vegetables by Phil Vischer.

This is a story of a visionary who pushed the boundaries of computer animation to create cutting-edge entertainment. After years of sacrifice and hard work, Big Idea took off and enjoyed meteoric success—sending godly messages into millions of homes across America.

Then, only a few years later, came financial troubles, lawsuits and bankruptcy.

Why did it fail? Why didn’t God intervene?

That’s the real issue the book addresses: What Phil Vischer learned from his failure.

And, I must say, he learned some great lessons. Some of them apply more to entrepreneurs and small business owners, but some of his points struck home.

Here are three I found particularly relevant:

God doesn’t kill our dreams, but he might allow them to die. Not because the dreams were wrong, but because, somewhere along the way, we took our focus off God. “You can’t fully understand that God is enough while you are clutching at your dreams. We must let our dreams go.” Sometimes God has a better plan outside those dreams. Sometimes, the very act of letting go is all that stands between us and God’s continued blessing. But we must never let our dreams become bigger than our God. And that can be very difficult, especially if our dream takes off. Which leads me to…

  • God isn’t concerned with how much we impact the world. He’s concerned with us, not with all the things we do for him. He may choose to use us to impact the world, but even if he does, it’s not the results that he longs for, but our obedience to his calling. Our culture tells us that to be important we need to accomplish things and impact people’s lives in measurable ways. The reality, however, is that we will accomplish more by patiently waiting for God’s direction than by charging forward to make a difference. I admit I’m not very good at the whole “be still and know that I am God,” thing, but it certainly is freeing to know that God cares more about me than anything I can accomplish. Focusing on hearing and obeying him is a whole lot less stressful than worrying about impact. That’s his department.
  • Don’t listen to the voice that whispers, “you deserve it.” Sure it’s nice to be rewarded for hard work, but if we expect to be rewarded for every little thing we do we are no better than a trained dolphin. However, this lie goes deeper—to an underlying belief that we are more deserving than others. (Unless you believe everyone else deserves exactly the same rewards, in which case you may be a communist.) Our world is filled with messages that tell us we deserve more-bigger-nicer. We might like more-bigger-nicer. We might be able to afford more-bigger-nicer. But we don’t deserve I’m not saying it is wrong to reward ourselves, or others, but the moment we start thinking we have a right to more-bigger-nicer we’re in trouble.

Has anyone else read the book? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Otherwise, I’ll say goodbye. It’s time to go find my hairbrush…

Where Did All the Fun Go?

sad clown face

Photo Credit: giveawayboy via Compfight cc

Do you feel like life is just passing you by?

That you’re just going through the motions, filling your days with activity but never feeling fully alive?

Do you wish life was more fun?

If you do, you’re not alone. It’s all too easy, in a life filled with family responsibilities, work deadlines, and volunteer obligations, to spend most of our time doing things we don’t particularly enjoy.

But what can we do about it? Continue reading

12 Things You Can Do Without

a disorganized bookcase

CLUTTER! Who needs it?

Living in the same house for over twenty years inevitably results in excess stuff. And experts agree that excess stuff (ie clutter) leads to frustration, wasted time and extra stress—which impacts our wallet, our productivity and our happiness.

Who needs that?

So I’ve gone on a de-clutter campaign. As I’ve sorted through junk drawers, closets, and bookshelves, I’ve discovered that when I can identify why an item qualifies as clutter, it’s easier to part with it. Maybe it will help you too. Continue reading

A Simple Secret for a Better Life — Gratitude

people protesting for more

When life isn’t fair, do you complain, or do you look for reasons to be thankful?

Being grateful is not a natural reaction when life isn’t going our way. Not when undeserving people get ahead while we lag behind. Not when the constant barrage of advertising and media insists we’ll be happier if we have nicer, newer stuff. Not when illness or tragedy strikes.

And yet, Paul exhorts us to be thankful in all circumstances.

Yeah, right. All circumstances? Like that makes sense.

But it does.

Why gratitude is the right attitude

Scientific studies support Paul’s wisdom, indicating that grateful people tend to:

  • Be healthier
  • Have better mental alertness
  • Be better at coping with stress or problems
  • Feel happier and more optimistic for the future
  • Be more generous
  • Attract more friends (because they are more pleasant to be around)

Why?

Because when we look for reasons to be thankful, we focus on the things that make us happy rather than the things that make us unhappy, which not only improves our mood, but enables us to make healthier life choices. (We are more prone to act and eat right when we’re in a good mood.) In addition, focusing on gratitude gives us a sense of perspective, an awareness of what really matters in life, which in turn helps us deal with our current frustrations and problems.

That’s why Being Grateful is one of my Ten Tenets for a Fuller Life.

hand shake

Mom was right. Always say ,”thank you.” It’s good for your soul.

My gratefulness goals:

Form a daily gratitude habit. For many, keeping a thankfulness journal is the best way to reinforce a thankful outlook, but I am not a journaler. Instead, I try to start each day by thinking of two or three things that I am grateful for. And since I have so many things to be thankful for, I try to list new ones each day.

Look for reasons to say thank you. We all need encouragement, so I want to become more intentional about thanking others, verbally or in writing, whenever possible.

Remember, the Lord giveth. And sometimes the Lord taketh away. If I consider all I have to be a gift from God, given for a season as he sees fit, I’ll have an easier time being content with what I have, and, when necessary, letting go.

Learn to reframe unhappy situations. Instead of focusing on what is going wrong, I will choose to focus on what is still good. Easier said than done, but well worth the effort. Because when we manage to look past our problems and focus on the blessings we still have right now, it not only improves our mood but also helps the bad stuff look less bleak.

Will you join me in choosing an attitude of gratitude? I hope so.

Further resources:

6 Surprising Ways Being Grateful Makes You Happier

A Dose of Gratitude: How Being Thankful Can Keep You Healthy

Some books on gratitude:

Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons 

Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life by M.J. Ryan  

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp

An Easter Perspective

Easter

Today I share a third of my Easter Week monologues. This is Easter, the day the disciples discovered their lord was not dead. That he had defeated death. That he had risen to life again.

We can only begin to imagine their shock. And their joy…

Mary Magdalene:

The last two days have been the darkest of my life. I was so afraid that I’d lose everything he’d done for me. That I’d go back to the darkness. The hopelessness. The shame. (beat) But I’m not afraid anymore. Because he isn’t dead. And that changes everything. Because it means his power is real—and everything he did with that power cannot be cancelled or revoked. I see now why he had to die—he had to finish what he started. He had to defeat evil once for all, so we can live.

See also:

A Palm Sunday Perspective

A Good Friday Perspective

A Good Friday Perspective

crown of thorns

This is another of my Easter Week monologues. Each one is a short glimpse of what a single individual was thinking at that particular moment. Today is Good Friday–the day Jesus was killed–so imagine how you would feel if the man you had followed, believed in, and pinned your hopes on, was

suddenly,

unexpectedly.

Dead.

And you had no idea Sunday was coming…

Andrew:

He tried to warn us it wasn’t going to last. He told us he was going to die, but we thought he was being metaphorical. Death couldn’t have been part of the plan, because you can’t save your people if you’re dead, can you? (beat) Three years we followed him. Three years we listened to his stories, absorbed his lessons, watched him heal bodies and change lives. All for…what? What do we do now with all that he taught us? How are we supposed to carry on now that he is gone? (beat) Jesus, how could you leave us like this? We aren’t ready for…whatever you had planned. We can’t do it without you. Why did you let them kill you? Why?

See also:

A Palm Sunday Perspective

Why YOU Need a ZARF–Part Two

zarf

Do you know what this is?   Photo Credit: voyageAnatolia.blogspot.com via Compfight cc

Welcome to the second half of my A to Z blog hop finale word list.

Missed the first half? Find A through K here.

The A to Z list, continued:

Ledgerdemain – trickery, sleight of hand. One of those words that sounds nothing like it means. Another fine example of an un-onomatopoetic word is pulchritude, which means beauty. Continue reading