Posts Tagged: joy


16
Aug 12

Feelings… nothing more than feelings

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Hi there… welcome.

In the last blog I poked around at the topic of our identity and the things that we think define us as a person.

Toward the end of the blog I made a statement that I fully believe and I would like to unpack a little more.  I said that your feelings will always default to your true identity.

Feelings reveal who we think we are and what we think we want to have or do.

You will note that I did not say that feelings reveal reality.

Feelings are powerful – very, very powerful.  They are powerful because feelings infer reality.

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“I feel, therefore it is”

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If I feel it then it must be real.  And if it’s real then we act on our assumption.

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Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason.
-  Samuel Adams

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To add to the complexity our society reinforces the notion that feelings rule.  The entertainment industry and marketing world thrive as purveyors of feelings not facts.

If it feels good do it, if it doesn’t feel good don’t do it.

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God is not present in idols. Your feelings are your god. The soul is your temple.
- Chanakya
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Wow… can you believe he said that “Your feelings are your god.”  According to Chanakya then, you must obey your feelings.  How futile.

Anyway, by the way Chanakya looks by his picture I recommend he find another god.  His feelings don’t seem to be working for him.

OK, Back to the topic.

As we continue looking as society’s influence, have you noticed how everyone in the advertisement is happy, good looking and has money?

They are selling a feel good dream.  You can have this too if you wear their deodorant or drink their beer.

On the other side of the feeling coin is fear or disapproval.  They market these negative feelings to spark action.

There is another side to this feeling trap.

There is so much emphasis on feelings, that the lack of feelings carries as much influence and power as what we feel.

What we don’t feel weighs as heavily as what we feel.

For example, if I no longer feel in love with my wife then I need no longer to be faithful.  Why should I stay in a relationship if I don’t feel like I love her anymore?

Here’s the scariest reality of all.

If I don’t have good feelings about something then I must find the thing that makes me feel good.  The focus is on the FEELING not the need.

Most of the time what we need in life does not feel good.  But focusing on the deeper things in life brings a happiness and contentment that no deodorant or beer buzz could ever provide.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like good feelings as much as the next person.  I want good things.  I like to feel good.

But when tickling your feelings is more important than the foundational things of life… oh boy… are you in for a very rocky road.

We’re going to continue to open this “feelings” box.

It will be interesting to see what we stir up.

I’ll keep writing about this as long as I feel good about it.

See you Monday.


6
Aug 12

Giving up freedom sets you free

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I wasn’t planning on expanding on the last blog entry but I was reminded of a powerful and important truth that relates to what I had written.

In the last entry I talked about the counter intuitive notion that proper restriction or resistance allows us to soar.  Without restriction we would never reach our designed potential.

If the last sentence made no sense then I recommend that you check out the last blog entry.

The paradoxical truth that I want to talk about is that true ultimate freedom requires giving up freedom.

Now before you get the yips, this is not a political or military policy statement.  There may be some application but it is definitely not the point of this entry.

Nor is this an entry about the Spiritual or religious implications, which there are many.

I ran across something I wrote over two years ago that illustrates what I am talking about.  I would like to share a few paragraphs (italics).

I have music in me… lots of music.  There are times when I sit at a piano, placed my fingers on the keys, closed my eyes and believed the music inside would explode into melody.

But the wellspring of music within remains trapped… frustrated by its inability to find release and purpose.  There was no avenue for escape because I had not provided a path of freedom.

When younger I could have taken piano lessons.  I could have given up the freedom to do the things I wanted to do and channeled that time into a forced discipline of training my mind and fingers.  But my freedom in the moment was more important for me than ultimate freedom later.

It is said that you can tell who the professionals are because they make it look so easy.  All you have to do is look at the picture of Gabby Douglas.

I marvel at the ability of some dancers or athletes.  The freedom they have to release their body in different ways is literally amazing.  This level of freedom only comes through forced discipline.  It is the relinquishing of the freedom of the moment for the freedom of the ultimate.

Take a look at this quick video.  It illustrates the amazing beauty, ease, and elegance of a body that is free.

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Freedom… that’s what this life journey is all about.

It is through giving up immediate freedom you gain ultimate freedom.  This is true in virtually every aspect of life.

We relinquish our freedom to spend money on something we want now for more financial freedom later.

Humm… freedom… what treasures are trapped in you that are fighting to be released.

Don’t get discouraged.  Keep at it.

I ran across a great quote that encourages me.  William Stafford, (1914-1993) was a prolific and highly respected American poet.  When asked by a reporter how he began his career as a poet he said,

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“I just kept on doing what everyone starts out doing. The real question is, why did other people stop?”

Don’t stop.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

See you Thursday.


11
May 12

Huh? Where am I?

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As you know, we have been talking about this life journey thing since the beginning of the blog over two years ago.

I have touted the adventure, blessings, and joy of being willing to step out of our comfortable world of the known into the unknown.

Yep, it’s great but in the spirit of full disclosure I have to admit there are some potential pitfalls (“Oh great, now he tells me.”)

Now this may sound stupid but when you step into the unknown… guess what?  You don’t know where you are.

First of all, to calm any of your fears, not knowing where you are is not a bad thing.  Not at all.  In fact it’s normal.

Remember, this journey we have been talking about is a journey of exploration.  When you explore one does NOT know the destination.  You’re just looking around to see what you can find.

You can only explore in areas that you don’t know.

Now there is an important life insight to all of this.

Important life insight!!!

Not knowing where you are does not mean that you are lost. Huh?

There is actually a very big difference.  Seriously?  Seriously.  Weird I know but true none-the-less.

The key differentiator between the two is “destination”.  If you have a destination defined then the journey you are on is in reality a trip.

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I am not referring to trip from a hippie definition.  Sometimes a trip is just a… trip.

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Here’s the bad news.  If you are looking for a destination and you don’t know where you are, then you are lost.

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LOST!  As in being stranded on a Pacific Island with all kinds of weird happenings?  Uuuh… not that kind of lost.  Just lost.

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I ran across this video that is really clever.  It talks about the whole topic of losing things… even ourselves.  Then we are “lost”.

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All of this begs some important questions to ponder.

Are you exploring or on a trip?

Are you wandering or are you lost?

Good questions.

I hope I made you think today.

Later… see you Monday.


7
May 12

The BIG Push or Pull

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When I started the blog over two years ago it was because something was stirring inside.  There was something that longed to see the light of day and a voice that needed to be heard.

I really don’t know if I have succeeded but I can say I like where I am today much better than where I was three years ago before I ventured beyond the wall.

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Side Note: You may be wondering about the wall I am referring to.  When I started the blog I referred to being comfortable behind the garden wall and wondering if there was something beyond.

I recommend that you go back to the first couple of blogs and check them out.  All you have to do is go to the archives column on the right, click on January 2010 and scroll down to the first blog and go from there.

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Before we go on I need to press in on a very important point.

You will get more out of the adventure of stepping into the unknown if you know the primary motivation for the decision to step forward.

The motivation or impetus for taking a bold step into the dark is basically one of two things.  Either you are being drawn to something (a PULL) or you are getting away from (a PUSH).

There may be elements of both but primarily it is one or the other.

For me it was definitely the PULL.   There were things about my life that I wanted to improve but basically I was very, very happy with where I was.  My life was amazingly good.

But I knew in the depths of my being… there was more.

The “more” was not a childish desire to grab things that are shiny and sweet to the taste, but a deeper (I believe divine) knowledge that I am living below where we all are created to be.

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We long for more but dare not believe that more is possible.

-  Penelope Stokes

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For you the motivation may be totally different.  You may be in a situation where things are pretty crappy where you are and you have decided – ENOUGH!!!

You may not hear a call, feel a pull or believe there is something more.  That’s ok.

Take it from me as someone who has decided to cast off from the shore and launch into the deep… it’s kinda scary but oh my – I wouldn’t change a minute of if.

Whether you are in the PUSH or PULL group there is one thing that is the same for both.  Open your heart and head and listen.

Some people decide to take this step and recklessly jump into the first thing that comes along.  The natural tendency is to latch on to anything when you’re in the dark.

If you are open and listening you will sense and know if the things you encounter are good or not so good.  The struggle to determine the good or the bad are part of the growing process.

Be comforted in the fact that bold steps like this are God things.  Now don’t worry, I’m not get all preachy on you.  But it is important to know that growth and a better life are divine.

As I wrap up this blog entry today I have a couple of more thoughts that I hope will help you to join me on this amazing journey beyond where you are.

These two thoughts helped motivate me to start and continues to stir me now when I get discouraged.

The first motivator is a statement.

  • I don’t want to wake up five years from now and be where I am today.

The second motivator is a question.

  • What would you attempt if you knew you wouldn’t fail?

I hope these help as you make some decisions.  How cool!

Join me Thursday  as I continue my journey.

Ciao.


27
Feb 12

Divine Comedy or Comedy is Divine

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Hello.

First, to all of you who took your time to read my last blog entry… sorry.  Yes, it was pretty lame.  Hopefully there were a couple of chuckles.

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Laughter is an instant vacation.

Milton Berle

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I love humor… it’s just that some stuff is not funny.  Have you ever known a person who thought they were funny but in reality they were just goofy?

Side Note: Please… no reference to my last blog!

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There is another way to look at the goofy person who, in your opinion, tries to be funny.  Maybe the person really is funny and… guess what?… maybe you’re the goofy one.  Just a thought.

This may sound very strange to you, but I see humor as being very Spiritual.  Yes… Spiritual.

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I believe that laughter is a language of God and that we can all live happily ever laughter.

- Yakov Smirnoff

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If you are a regular reader you know that God, and having a relationship with Him, is the center point of my life.  You also know that I don’t preach to you or try to make you believe as the way I do.  But I digress.

I have known (and believe) that God is Love, Spirit, power and all sorts of mighty things beyond our feeble ability to fully grasp or understand.

But interestingly enough I believe there are things on a secondary level that are the essence of the nature of God that we tend to overlook.  I am talking about things that make life unbelievably joyous and meaningful.

For example, humor, music and creativity (the Arts) to name a few.

Here’s some of my reasoning.  I have noticed that certain things have amazing power to move people; mighty things that touch us in deep ways.

These are gifts to all His creation to enjoy.  And because they are from God and the essence of who He is… they are powerful.

Even to the atheist things like music, creativity and humor seem to have a mystical quality that transports us to a different level.

But like anything that has power, these good things are exploited for evil.  Oddly, this is another reason that tells me these are God things.

As you can see, humor is Spiritual to me.

The fact is, God is funny.  I’m serious, He’s really funny.  I have no question that He loves a good laugh and loves seeing us laugh… what joy!

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There’s something about these pictures of laughter that is soothing, huh?

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“Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.”

“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

- Mark Twain

There is power in humor, joy in smiles and healing in laughter.  Humm… looks pretty DIVINE to me.

See you Thursday.


16
Feb 12

The Elegance of Invitation

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Hi, me again.

I don’t know about you but the picture above tells a lot of story.  My mind can take it in all kinds of directions with a beginning, plot and an ending.

The person who created it (I wish I knew so I could give them credit) took a simple unassuming photo and told a story.

But what fascinates me even more is that each of us can look at the picture and write a totally different story depending on how we view it and interpret it.

I liked it because it made me think.  It invited me to interpret, explore, examine and make assumptions.

There is something amazingly powerful and elegant in simple creativity.

I am talking about the type of simple creativity that from the page, screen or canvas somehow mysteriously extends an invisible hand with the index finger motioning an invitation to come in for a closer look.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

I do understand that some things are done in the name of “artistic purpose” to evoke an emotion of some sort.  That’s okay to a degree.

But like most things in our brash, brazen, “bombard the senses” world, the goal is not to invite or even evoke an emotion, but to grab you by the neck and drag you in.

So many things these days try to force us to think a certain way and lead us to their desired conclusion.

Or even worse, some so called artists (or creative types) assault our senses and sensibility with extremes.

And it’s sad to say, but in far too many cases the intent is to provoke us with a condescending jab at what they view as our narrow, bereft existence.

I don’t know about you, but I am always at caution when faced with anything that tries to forcibly impose a thought, belief or direction.

It could be my own hang-ups that make me cringe at these types of things… but I don’t think so.

It is my opinion that people who are so consumed with forcibly imposing their view in reality are just projecting their own narrow world.

I genuinely want to grow and not be trapped by what I perceive as the “what is” in life.  Because I desire to step beyond where I am, I work hard at being open, inquisitive and explorative.

Life is short and I don’t want to waste time by looking in every nook and cranny.  Because of that, I have become attuned to those things that stir or have a compelling call.

So, if you are looking for a blog that reaches off the screen and grabs you by the throat and drag you to where I am… you are in the wrong place.

Hopefully there is something I say that causes you pause, makes you think, breaths life into a goal or dream, or… just makes your life more enjoyable.

Thanks for hanging out with me today.

See you on Monday.


13
Jan 12

The Greeks had it right

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Hi, welcome back.

In my last blog I talked about the surprises life throws at us… the good… and the bad.

Call me silly, but personally I like the good better than the bad.

But I know that there will be bad.  I was at a funeral this week to prove that reality… very, very sad.

Side Note: Now let’s be really honest here for a moment.  Some of you reading this blog are saying, “uuuugh… I don’t want to read anything depressing.”

I understand.  I feel that way at times too.  But stick it out.

It won’t be as depressing as you may think, and hopefully be encouraging.

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I think the Greeks had a fairly accurate view of life as seen with the picture of the historic “Greek Tragedy” masks.   Life is a mix of the happy and sad.

So as you can see, I will sprinkle some modern day versions of the “Greek Tragedy” emblems throughout the blog.

I do need to make an important point of clarification about the good and bad, but particularly the bad.

I have had bad things happen (like this week) that I had no control over.  Life happens… it hurts.  I fully accept this reality.

But what I can’t tolerate, is the pain in my life that is self-inflicted… it irks me.  Now let’s face it, we have all made very stupid decisions that have brought unnecessary pain into our lives.  This is a topic for another time… not today.

In Monday’s blog I mentioned that in one week my wife and I experienced the miracle of life and the tragedy of death.

The miracle of life was a heart transplant for a dear friend.

This humble marvelous man’s days were numbered.  But the call came and the miracle transplant took place… Joy! Joy! Joy!

But this miracle of life reflected in a most powerful way the paradoxical nature of life.

The mountain top of joy for us meant a painful valley for another.  While we rejoice, someone somewhere is grieving… the “Greek Tragedy” in real life.

The real question is, how do we (you and I) view this reality of life?

For the most part I believe most people look for the good but try really hard to ignore the bad.   I think that’s kinda normal.

For me personally, this is where my Faith plays an important role.

Side Note: Once again, to my non-Christian friends, I am not trying to impose what I       believe on you.  I am just answering the question I asked two sentences earlier.

Your response to the question may be different, that’s fine.

My Faith provides a context that makes sense of the big picture to me.  I may not understand the details of the immediate but I can see the ultimate.  This is comforting.

There is something very comforting about accepting the reality that this world with all its moving parts of joy and pain is not random.  But there is a pattern and meaning to all that happens.

So I sit here seated between the pain of life and the joy of life.  I am sad and happy at the same time.

See you on Monday.


9
Jan 12

Hold on loosely for the tightest grip

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Yes, I know that it’s a weird title.  But it’s true… all too true.

My wife and I have often used the phrase, “Life is full of surprises”.

We are barely one week into 2012 and already we are hit with a miracle of life and an unexpected tragic death.

Life can change in an instant.  And when life happens, plans are irrelevant.

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“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
-Dwight D Eisenhower

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There is no question that we are to make plans in our lives… be intentional.  Far too many people live by default and just let life float and evolve.  And then they wake up at the age 65 and wonder what the hell happened.

You can plan all you want but… life happens.

The fact that there are no guarantees in life reality scares a lot of people.  I understand why, but we can’t allow ourselves to run scared.

It’s amazing how miserable you can make your life by running scared about the possible things that can happen.

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“I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles… but most of them never happened.”

- Mark Twain

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That’s why I have found that my firmest grip on life when I hold it loosely.

This may be a strange thing to say but the same principle is true with love.  To experience love to the fullest we must be very intentional, and hold if very loosely.

Love dies when gripped too hard.  We squeeze the life out of the thing we long for.

Like love, I want to experience life to the fullest that God intended.  And a life, like love, experienced to the fullest is salted with both the amazing peaks of joy and excitement… and the deep valleys of hurt and pain.

So because of life’s surprises my plans for the week are totally out the window.  I have to travel to be with family and for a funeral.  Funerals are not for the dead but the living.

I guess that’s why through out the Bible you see phrases like “weep with those that weep, rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those that mourn.”

If my wife were here she would be telling me that this entry is a downer.  It is not meant to be at all.

In the beginning of the blog I mentioned a life and a death.

On Thursday I will talk about the happiness we have experienced with the joy of life.

Ciao.


26
Dec 11

Happy Sigh or Sad Good-Bye

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Happy day after Christmas.  I guess it’s happy.

For some people the day after Christmas is a very sad good-bye.  It means the excitement has peaked and the mundane of everyday life is on the horizon.

For months the momentum and excitement builds and then crescendos in one grand crash of cymbals on Christmas day with gift wrapping flying, people laughing with oohs” and ”aahs” abounding.

Stuff memories are made of.

While some are having a sad good-bye to the Yule Tide peak there are others who are slap happy that it’s all over.

You can almost hear their internal voice screaming from the mountains tops, “Thank God it’s over and good riddance.”

The months leading up to the big day have been grueling or barely tolerable at best.  Now they are setting back the day after Christmas with coffee in hand releasing a very happy sigh.

Some of you can probably relate to this poem I ran across.

One Day After Christmas

It’s Christmas time at my house, the relatives are here.

They eat me out of house and home, and drink up all my beer.

I love the decorations, and the sleigh bells in the snow,

But I wish those pesky relatives would take their kids and go.

The cookie crunchers are in a free-for-all, the girls against the boys,

They’re fighting over boxes ‘cause they’re bored with all their toys.

My mother-in-law is snoring in my favorite TV chair,

Those kids are stringing lights on her and tenseling her hair.

I oughta wake her up before the fireworks begin,

But I wanna see those blue sparks fly when they plug her in.

-       Author Unknown

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Granted, this poem is no literary masterpiece…. But it makes a point.

My guess is most of you are where I am… kinda in the middle.

I had a wonderful Christmas but I have to admit that I caught myself giving a substantial “Whew” this morning while relaxing.

So, I sit in the living room rather content next to the forlorn Christmas tree.  The tree is looking very inadequate and purposeless this morning without any gifts under the boughs.

But at least I have the lights on.  It looks somewhat happy.  There are few things sadder to me than a Christmas tree after the big day with the lights off.

Now that Christmas is in the rearview mirror I have a suggestion that will make the world a much better place… well… for me anyway.

Please, please, please – if you have outdoor decorations – either take them down immediately or keep them lit.

This is especially true with the inflatable decorations.  There are few things more disturbing than limp Santas, reindeer or snowmen lying in a disfigured heap on the lawn.

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If you are an inflatable kind of person (Christmas inflatable not kinky inflatable), keep them blown up looking happy and useful or put them out of our misery and pack them away till next year.

Well, regardless of how you’re feeling today, happy or sad… or both, at least keep the Christmas tree and decorations happy by keeping them lit or putting them up.

I have one more blog entry for 2011.  Hopefully it will be a bit more insightful than todays meanderings.

See you Thursday.

Ciao.


22
Dec 11

Filling in the Blanks

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Hi, good to have you hang out with me for a while.

In the last blog entry I messed with your head a bit when I titled the blog “Christmas is H _ _ _ !”.

I talked about the natural tendency to fill in the blanks (or any information gap) with things that tend to be negative.

I promised to fill in the blanks… and I will… but let me set the stage first.

As I mentioned in the last blog, I tend to be a pretty positive person.  But it seems to be more of a challenge these days.

It feels like the world is getting increasingly weirder, angrier and polarized.  Have you noticed?

I have never seen so much anger, distrust, cynicism, threats, and fighting… and that’s just getting out of the church parking lot.  Just kidding, just kidding, but you get my point.

You have to admit, the world does seem to be pulling apart more so than pulling together.

There seems to be no middle ground on anything anymore, only polarized positions with each side entrenched in their respective opinions.

The opening paragraph of Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities seems pretty relevant.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Charles Dickens,
English novelist (1812 – 1870)

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On the surface the world seems pretty hopeless.  But it’s not.  Not at all.

By now you may have guessed what the “H” word is from the title of the last blog… HOPE!

Christmas is HOPE!

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The possibility of hope scares a lot of people.  I found a very interesting quote.

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Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.
Friedrich Nietzsche

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Wow.  That only comes from someone who has no hope.  Sad… so sad.

We have to be honest.  For many people living in a troubled world, Hope does seem a bit illusive.

But you have to have Hope to survive.  Take a look at this great clip from the movie, The Shawshank Redemption.

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YouTube Preview Image

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Hope is real.  The reality of Hope came into the world nearly 2000 years ago.

Light was provided for a dark world.

Side Note: To my non-Christian friends don’t get all weirded out because I will be talking about Jesus.

As always, I am not trying to get you to believe what I believe.  That is something you work out personally with God.  I am just sharing how the reality of Hope impacts me.

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Now to some of my non-Christian friends you may think I am trying to promote my religion.  Not at all.

Religion in itself cannot provide Hope … it never will.  In fact, religion has added to the negativity and polarization the world is experiencing.

But Hope comes from the reality that Christmas celebrates… a savior was born… a Universe rejoiced… darkness pierced.

Merry Christmas!