Abound in Hope

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Happy Monday!!!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

 

That’s all.

(Oh, except: that’s Romans 15:13.)

 

 

Be well. 

 

 

 

Thankful.

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I love the fact that we have a Thanksgiving Day Holiday.

I realise that for many it may be more a celebration of turkey than of gratitude, but I really appreciate the concept of a day set aside.

Set aside to remember.

Set aside to savour.

Set aside for stillness in our busy lives.

Set aside for gratitude.

That is richness to me.

I love all the festivals and Sabbaths in the Bible, how devoted the nation of Israel was to remembrance.

I used to focus more on the BIG things to celebrate, commemorate … be grateful for.

And, certainly I appreciate the bigger blessings! But I find that the little blessings are usually the richer ones, in the long run.

I was certainly grateful for my job. But now that that is gone the parts of it I remember the most, the memories that mean the most, the pieces that continue to enrich my life today, are the details.

The JOB didn’t enrich my life like the friends I made in it who I will email, Facebook, and Skype with today. Or the experiences I had because of it, that I can’t imagine having had otherwise.

And it’s the same for every other job I’ve held.

Even University, life shaping as that is, when I look back on it from this (rather significant!) distance, resolves into

my friend Larry, with whom I’m still in touch…

a group of us drinking ghastly coffee in the lobby of the science building, laughing at nothing but fatigue and shared finals misery…

the stunning poem written by a Kenyan classmate and read in his rich, resonant voice …

As this Thanksgiving Day has been approaching, I’ve had a running stream of Things I Am Thankful For playing across my mind.

  • The rain that has crept in every week or so lately.
  • How intense all the colours get when it’s cloudy out.
  • And that it’s nice and cool here now.
  • The support of my friends and family during both the 2014 LifeWreck and my job becoming redundant this year.
  • The blessing of working on this project I’m doing right now.
  • The squirrels that galumph across my roof and skitter up the Asian pear tree in my courtyard. (Slightly less thankful for them when they dig out my bulbs, but one can’t have everything.)
  • My fierce little pink Geranium, that blooms away in all weather.
  • Friends from all across the world writing to say they were praying for our elections, and our country.
  • That my Dad is grilling the annual turkey, with scientific precision, probably wearing his chef’s hat.
  • That technology connects me to loved ones across the world.

The list goes on, and on. Big things, and lots of little things. Far more than I could fit into only one day of remembrance!

But that’s okay.

It’s handy to carry a little gratitude into the rest of the days. 

 

Be well. 

 

What are you thankful for?

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Happy Monday!!

I hope everyone is well, and if you are in the United States, I wish you a very blessed Thanksgiving Day Holiday!!

I think I’m a generally thankful person. I certainly shouldn’t want to restrict all my gratitude to one day a year!

Yet, it is nice to have one day set aside to pause and truly reflect on all I have to be grateful for.

What are you thankful for? 

 

Have a very blessed Monday, Thanksgiving Day, and week!

 

Be well. 

People amaze me.

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People amaze me.

Now frankly, when I say that  I often do NOT mean it as a complement!

But sometimes I do.

Sometimes I am simply stunned by the creativity and … just… the awesomeness of ordinary people.

I’m unusually blessed that in my work for the past decade I’ve gotten to travel in developing countries and see how shockingly innovative and brilliant people are when they can’t fall back on buying their way out of every need.

But even in my own country, even during the last glimmers of this dreadful election, I’ve been impressed again and again.

I read an article this week about a girl in New York who worked through her depression by writing letters of encouragement and love and leaving them around NYC for complete strangers to find.

How do people come up with this stuff?!?

I’m as mental as I ever hope to be, and thank God at least I don’t have depression to get through, and I can’t even imagine thinking up such a cool response to this crisis!

I’m happy to get through the day with my work done, clean laundry, and the meals cooked, and here’s this chick transforming lives during her darkest moments! 

I found this incredibly inspiring. Not the least because I’ve been looking for ways to give back a little, bring a little hope, with the very limited energy I have. Even I can write letters, for goodness’ sake!

Then I ran across an article about this family who bought a desk on Craigslist, and when they moved it into their home found nearly $100,000 CASH in it – and called the seller to return the money.

People like that give me hope for my species.

 

Closer to home, I recently received a LinkedIn connection request from a colleague I hadn’t seen in four or five years. I was excited to reconnect with her, so I sent her a note to say hello.

And her immediate reply was ‘I noticed your update, I’m so sorry about your job; I’ve been there. Could we get together for coffee or something and see how I can help you?’

I want to be like this woman when I grow up.

 

Even in this election itself, which causes me real concern about how the future will look for ordinary Americans, I find cause for hope.

Four states voted to raise, some nearly double, their minimum wage. And at least one was a staunch Republican state!!

Other states and cities passed laws to improve health in various ways – not the huge reforms we need, but hope to carry on, at least.

And on the lighter side, I was DELIGHTED when I saw a notice on Election Day about donating pizza for those standing in line to vote!

It’s a small thing, but it still proclaims: love wins.

 

So, from a fairly rocky beginning, I end this week with a bit more calm, a bit more hope, and far more respect for my fellow human beings.

SOOO many people are opening their hearts to fight the negativity and stand up for those who are at increased risk. I’ve seen people reexamining their own cultures and beliefs and reaching out make changes. I think we’ll make it. 

 

Be well. 

 

Happy. + Monday.

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Happy Monday!!

Boy, it’s been a rough couple of weeks, hasn’t it?

I don’t know about you, but I can use some added joy and peace in the chaos that is this month.

I found myself thumbing through a folder I have of encouraging articles and what-not, and I was reminded of a short list from one of my favourite magazines of things that are scientifically proven to increase happiness:

10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy

 

Now, I definitely support focusing on what brings you joy regardless of what science says about it.

But, in case you’re struggling to remember ANYTHING that brings you joy just now, it’s handy to have a few tried and tested options!

My personal favourites on the list are

Savor everyday moments

Make friends, treasure family

Say thank you like you mean it

but all of them look pretty legit to me.

And if none of them work today, there is always

 

Have a peaceful, hope-filled week.

 

Be well. 

 

And if you REALLY need a constant reminder right now, they have a handy little poster too.  Complete with a cute little smiley latte!

Privilege.

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I had a different post planned for today.

But after seeing a note by a lovely friend of mine who is Hispanic, about her concerns as an American in an America that feels that Trump is our best representative, I decided that post should wait.

My friend is by no means an alarmist.

Let me be clear on that. She has always been one of the most positive, optimistic, grounded people I’ve known.

And she is definitely no whiner.

This woman has endured degrees of hardship I hope I make it through my whole life without facing. But instead of letting it make her bitter, or hopeless, she has simply worked harder to bear the image of Christ.

And she bears that image better than most people I know.

So, seeing her comment in a public forum about feeling real fear due to the colour of her hair and skin … that impressed me.

Also this week I had also seen an article that impressed me, and saved it to post sometime, because I thought it was exactly the right perspective.

I’m going to move that up to post now, but I want to talk a little about it first.

I want to talk about it first because it deals with a very touchy phrase: ‘White Privilege’.

I’ve seen lots of comments on this phrase in recent years.

Sometimes it’s an insult : “You with your White Privilege, think you can……”

Sometimes it’s a statement of shame: “Me with my White Privilege, how can I …”

Sometimes it’s just a statement of fact: “White Privilege is… or does… or gives .. or takes….”

I didn’t hear this phrase growing up.

But my parents taught me that I WAS privileged, very, and that part of that privilege came from being white in this country.

They taught me that because I was an American, because I came from a family wealthy by comparison with most of the world (though we were normal middle class here), and yes, because I was white, I had many things easier than other people did.

They taught me about the difficulties that people dealt with simply because their skin colour was darker than mine and their history in America was different from mine.

My parents never taught me to be ashamed of being white. Or to be proud of it. They simply taught me the facts and taught me responsibility.

The same way they taught me that because I am a woman, I would have difficulties that I would not have if I had been born male. 

Not an excuse, not something to be ashamed of, just a fact.

So, when I’ve seen white people either defensive about ‘White Privilege’, or overwhelmed with shame because of it, I’ve struggled  to understand.

But I can understand that neither response is helping any of us. 

And that is why I loved this article I found. One of my favourite lines in it is

“Guilt is not helpful. Shame is not helpful. Action is.”

There is no shame in being white. It’s not like we can help it.

And there is not even any inherent shame in being privileged for something we can’t do anything about.

These are simply facts.

The only shame that would make sense to me is having a privilege I did nothing to earn, which costs me nothing to use, and failing to see that as a gift that must surely be useful for creating some sort of general benefit.

How that plays out is different for different people. Not everyone is  Corrie ten Boom, but not everyone needs to be.

One of us might take on the whole legal or political system. Another might simply stand up for one person we know. Millions of us will do something somewhere in between.

And that’s perfect. That’s how all the needs in the world get met – by our glorious diversity! No one could do it all. 

My other favourite quote from the article is

“Because of your privilege, you have tremendous power”

And that, to me, is the key point.

We don’t all feel like we have much power right now. And just because I’m white sure doesn’t mean I have the kind of power, or as much power, as I might need to feel safe and okay. 

But I have enough power to choose to stand with people who are different from me, instead of letting ‘The Powers That Be‘ turn me against them.

(And let’s face it: most black, or hispanic, or Muslim, Americans have far more in common with ME than most wealthy, powerful politicians ever will! Neither Trump nor Clinton are at all worried about paying their bills or saving for retirement.)

It might be threatening to think of helping others when we don’t feel powerful enough ourselves in this scary world. But it IS NOT true that helping others succeed takes away our opportunities.

So, my recommended reading for today is the encouraging article:

This teacher is showing her students how to use white privilege for good.

 

And my hope for today is that we can all see any privilege we have –

whether white privilege,

American privilege,

or any other privilege;

whether it’s the privilege we wish we had, or not,

as one thing we have to offer in this big scary world.

 

Be well. 

Thank you for your service.

To all who have served our country as members of our military, THANK YOU.

May God bless and keep you and your families, and may we, your countrymen and women, honour your service by how we live, and by ensuring that you are cared for as well as you have cared for us.

A blessed Veteran’s Day to all.

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Be well. 

Election day.

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It is FINALLY here!!!

After 18 months or so of drama (not to say horror) one way or another tonight it ends.

Thank God.

Oh sure, we may have yet more drama, vote re-counts, even, God forbid, law suits or Donald Trump storming the White House regardless of votes.

But our decisions have been made!

Our votes have been cast.

Our agonising (at least on that front) is OVER!!

(Though, if you’ve not yet voted GO VOTE!)

And now the real work begins!

I don’t know about you, but I never (ever, ever) again want to experience an election with two candidates of this… er… quality.

And I learned a lot during this election about avoiding this in future – mainly, alas, that we can’t wait until the election year to start making changes!

Citizenship seems to be a year ’round obligation.

But it’s worth it!

We are worth it, and our country is worth it!

One thing I can do today, before a single exit poll is announced, is to obey the call to action of my man Paul, in 1st Timothy:

First of all, I ask that you pray for all people. Ask God to bless them and give them what they need. And give thanks. You should pray for rulers and for all who have authority. Pray for these leaders so that we can live quiet and peaceful lives—lives full of devotion to God and respect for him.

A quiet and peaceful life sounds awfully good to me! 

Let’s transform our country, and our political system, into something that WORKS.

 

 

Be well.  

GO VOTE! Vote like the future is in YOUR hands!

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Happy Monday!!!

If you are in the United States, tomorrow is ELECTION DAY!!

Even if you’ve found this election year to be one of unremitting distress, there is STILL cause for celebration:

  • In a few days it will be OVER! No more horror-flick suspense, or endless candidate news.
  • No matter how bad it is, we will get through it. Really.
  • We have learned the error of our ways and we now have the opportunity to ensure we never face this awful an election again!

So PLEASE, use the precious right that you hold as an American Citizen, and VOTE!!

 

Vote the party line, vote third party, write someone in, but VOTE!!

Many people sacrificed, even died, to win this right for us, and many around the world still lack this right, don’t miss this opportunity!

Heck, even if you don’t want to vote for one of the offices, no worries: you can STILL vote for the rest!!

Be well. 

Simple Tips for Prosperity

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While the US elections are not quite over, the time for having any impact on them beyond voting is over, and it’s past time to return to more pleasant, more ABUNDANT topics!

Some time ago I saw a charming old video (for which, alas, I have no direct link; I wasn’t planning to blog when I saw the thing) of Ron Blue describing 6 principles for financial health.

They pretty much summed up the decisions that end in abundance, so I noted them down to review periodically for inspiration:

  1. Spend less than you earn
  2. Avoid the use of debt
  3. Save to build liquidity and margin into your finances
  4. Set long term goals so you can prioritise your spending between your short term and your long term goals
  5. Give generously
  6. Understand that God owns it all

From the Bible to  Saturday Night Live, the foundational principles  don’t change much! And they continue to work!

I don’t know about you, but as the end of the year approaches, and a new year begins to appear, I always like to revisit ‘The Important Things‘ in my life, to see if they need any fine tuning.

Money, and managing it well, are among my Important Things.

Not the most important things, but since I don’t want to  be living pay check to pay check in my 90s, important enough to merit a winter look-see and possibly even some new year revisions.

And what better time than right before the holiday season?

If that also appeals to you too, but you wonder where on earth to start, I can suggest from my own experience:

Debt-Free Living: Eliminating Debt in a New Economy

The Total Money Makeover

Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money: The Handbook of Financial Peace University 

You can get most of these from the library to see if they will be of value, and each author also has quality websites with lots of material for free.

Another site that has great material on getting, and staying, financially free is SeedTime.

And if you’d like some intel on the useful principles, but aren’t up for the links to Christianity, Mr. Money Mustache has got you covered! Check out his greeting for new readers on the front page and you can get a pretty solid finance education in a few hours’ reading.

And a very special ‘holiday’ resource, that isn’t really about how to achieve financial health, but rather about a way to enjoy it while making Christmas less stressful and more delightful, is The Advent Conspiracy. I’ve not yet found myself in a place to live it fully in my community, but I like to inch a bit closer each year!

I can say from my own experience – which now includes being laid off from my job at the end of September – that having savings, paying off debt, and having control of your budget changes your life.

When things are going well, you enjoy them more because financial stress isn’t weighing you down.

And even the tough times are at least not terrifying when your finances are healthy.

I may never be rich, and I am certainly not without concerns, but having some real peace, even in this storm, is invaluable.

Be well.