Adventures in Thanks-Living

Living the gift of life one breath at a time

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

The Gift of the Present Moment

“Patience is not waiting passively until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient, we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later, and somewhere else. Let’s be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand.”  — Henri J.M. Nouwen

What percentage of your life do you live in the past–regretting choices and decisions, reliving former glory days, wishing you could see someone again or that you had said something or not said something to someone in your life?

What percentage of your life do you spend dreaming about the future and contemplating “what-ifs”? Do you dream of winning the lottery, writing the next great American novel, finding true love, buying a house, having a child, or other hopes and dreams?

Now, what percentage of your life do you have left for the present moment? Is it 90%, 75%, 50%, or 25%? Could it really be true that you are only present in your life for a fraction of your time on earth?

Think about it. The only time we truly have is the present moment. We can’t change the past. We can’t predict with absolute certainty what the future holds. This moment right now is what you and I have. It is a gift that we did not earn or buy. We breathe in and out without effort, and our heart beats without our input. Right now we are fully alive and full of potential that only this moment can bring.

What will you do? How will you choose to live this moment in time? What treasure awaits our full, undivided attention and participation? This is your one wild and precious life (thank you, Mary Oliver); now go–live it in thanks, awe, and joy.

Photo by photosteve 101 used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

A Tech Sabbath . . . Can She do It?

Technology keeps us instantly connected–no doubt about it. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, and texting all serve an important function to keep our digital plates spinning and connections with one another intact. The immediacy is both blessing and curse. In fact, sometimes I wonder if I’m more than just a little bit addicted to this flow of information and seeming connectedness. Even when my family goes on vacation, either my spouse or I haul along a laptop and pray for WiFi. To be fair, as writers we do a lot of web research. Vocational concerns aside, do I really need this kind of connection to live thankfully and fully? This is a question I’ll be exploring during my mini-vacation this long weekend. Am I really addicted to this web of connection, and can I disconnect at will without going into spasms of techno-withdrawal?

My youngest daughter is about to exceed her data plan for her iPhone with five days remaining in this month’s billing period. She blames it on the fact that she no longer has a computer that works. When I suggested that she simply not use the data features until the next billing period, she looked at me like I had one eye and three heads. However in the world can one not be “connected” to the world?

A recent study published by the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, shows that being cut off from e-mail at work reduces stress and increases focus. Imagine that! Click here for more information about the study and a link to the report (downloadable PDF).

Why is it so difficult to disconnect? What am I afraid I will be missing? The world will go on without my participation in social media. If someone really wants to contact me, we do have a land line with an answering machine. Plus, I am on vacation. That means I am supposed to disconnect from work and the regular cycles of my daily routine.

So, to that end, I am resolved not to check my e-mail or Facebook until my vacation ends on Monday. And, no, that does not mean that I will be logged on at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning to see what I might have missed. It’s only a weekend right? What could be so tough about that?

I’ll let you know next week how this little experiment goes. Until then, enjoy some pre-planned postings and keep living thankfully one moment at a time.

Photo by photosteve 101 used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

Thankful for Walks

The last few months in our house have been excruciatingly busy, and because of that fact I let my fitness slip. I never happened to be near the YWCA and couldn’t seem to make the time for a special trip there. At home, something always seemed to intervene to keep me from my yoga routine and regular walks. It didn’t take long for a few pounds to creep back on (Thanks stress eating and lack of willpower!) and a general sense of malaise to settle over my days. What had originally been inconvenience and busyness gave way to stress and sluggishness. Ugh!

One day I finally realized just how far away from my healthy routine I had fallen. Sure, I was still making time for prayer, meditation, and study, but my physical self was suffering neglect. So I decided enough was enough. It was time to blend in a few more salads, a couple of extra glasses of water, and a long daily walk.

Walking is great exercise. It requires no special equipment other than decent shoes and a safe place to walk. It provides a completely different view of the world on foot than what one sees encased in a speeding box of plastic, glass, and metal. It can be a social activity or a respite that provides needed “self” time. It improves posture, breathing, and cardiovascular fitness. Even bone density gets a boost. Check out this article from the Mayo Clinic for more information about the many benefits of walking.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking two long walks. It was glorious! I used one of the walks as time to talk with my mother. Thanks, mom! It was good to hear your voice. I used the other one to spend time with my youngest daughter and the dogs. Thanks, family!

After my brush with the fitness slump and dumpy blahs, I have a renewed appreciation for the benefits of daily walking as an important part of my thanks-living lifestyle. In fact, I’m going to take the dogs for a walk around town right now.

How about you? Do you enjoy walking? What benefits do you gain from walking? I’d love to hear from you!

Photo by h. koppdelaney used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

Thankful for Wonderful YOU!

‘You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.’ ~Buddha

Jesus replied: “Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

You deserve to be thankful for yourself today–and every day. You are a child of the Creator, and you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are unique. You were created for a purpose. You are intended to grow and thrive, to live and love, to laugh and give, to create and participate.

As the two faith traditions (Buddhism and Christianity) quoted above agree, it is important to love yourself. Only when you love and accept yourself for who you are can you truly love others.

So when the days seem rough, and you wonder whether you are worthy, special, or worth loving, take heart. You ARE wonderful. Live into your potential. Value your self so that you may value others, serve others, and love this beautiful yet broken world.

Today I am thankful for wonderful YOU! Blessings on your day, your life, and your relationships.

Photo by Julie McLeod used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

Quality Time in Target

Shopping is not one of my favorite activities. In fact, I normally loathe it. Today, however, I went shopping, and it wasn’t so bad because it involved spending quality time with my 18-year-old daughter while she shopped for college.

We started out with a stop by her favorite fast food restaurant (Taco Bell) for seven layer burritos and cheesy potatoes. As fast food goes one could do a lot worse. Then we hit the big red bulls eye (a.k.a. Target). She had money to spend thanks to generous relatives and friends who sent her graduation presents, so there was no pressure on the “Bank of Mom.” That definitely took the financial edge off of the trip.

Normally, if I have to go to a place like Target I am armed with a list and the dedication to be in and out as fast as possible. Today, we spent well over an hour meandering the aisles comparing towels, paring knives, and ice trays. We looked at lights, fans, pillows, and all manner of dorm-related goodies. Best of all? We talked. I would have walked under the halogens inhaling the dyes and scent of plastic all day long to have this kind of quality time with her.

I am keenly aware that every moment is now a precious one. My spouse and I took her earlier this week for her college orientation. This is real, and it is happening in a little less than two months. It seems like just yesterday that she was a toddler. It surely wasn’t so long ago that she sat on Cinderella’s throne at Disney World and glowered for the camera. Wasn’t it just last week she secured her driver’s license? Senior year of high school? Where did THAT go?

Now she’s talking about classes and foreign exchange programs and internships. I see a new confidence in her words, growing maturity in her actions, and excitement about the future. These are good things, and I am so happy for her.

Yep, I’ll take my quality time in Target, watching old episodes of Dr. Who, or walking the dogs with her. Time flies when you’re having fun–and it flies when you see your child growing up, too. I hope that I can be a good steward of the remaining time we have left this summer and that I can then gracefully release her to her future with  prayers, hugs, and care packages.

What are you doing to take advantage of precious moments with the ones you love? Don’t let time pass ya’ll by now, you hear!

Photos by Matt Callow and Sharron Blezard used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

Thankful for Summer

Heat Advisory

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for the

first day of summer. True enough the day was sunny, still,

and hot–the pungent air thick enough to labor one’s breath.

If not for the slight breeze troubling the parched flowers and

wilting lawns the day would have been oppressive. As it was,

the solstice descended like a heavy woolen blanket over a

crazy quilt of orchards, tidy houses, rolling hills, and farm stands.

A good day for sweet tea or lemonade, for minimal movement,

a good book and a ceiling fan or a lazy afternoon nap, today less

is more. Yes, the seasons changed while we were busy living.

Yet even summer’s not static. As day melts into night, people

stir, doors and windows open to the cooling darkness. Neighbors

walk their dogs, children chase lightning bugs, adults pop open

cold beers and pour more tea, water thirsty lawns, and

steel themselves for the long hot days ahead.

 

Today is the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere, and I for one am glad of it. With a high in the 90s and a healthy dose of humidity, it was a good day to sweat or stay indoors. I did a little of both.

Every season has its glory, its beauty, and its “thorns.” How blessed we are to have the seasons, each one reminding us of time’s march, God’s creative hand, and our own mortality.

What gifts do you see in summer? How do you deal with the heat?

Photo by Meghan Rutherford used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

What You Can

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  — Theodore Roosevelt

Do you ever wish you could make a difference in the world? You can!

Do you ever wish you had the wherewithal to further a good cause? You have!

Do you ever wish you had more time to help? You do!

Do you ever think you’ll be better equipped, have more time and disposable income in the future? Why wait for a day that might not come?

Take Teddy Roosevelt’s words to heart and start doing what you can. The resources you have at hand may not seem like much, but when they are combined with the small bits and pieces that others can share the result may be more than you could imagine. If the problems of the world seem far away from where you live, start locally. Share garden produce, help a neighbor, tutor a child, encourage a friend. You do not have to travel very far at all to make a difference in the lives of others. In fact, you can start by picking up the phone or writing a note to someone.

Tomorrow is promised to no one. Today is a gift. Share the gift. Share the love. Be a part of the healing of the world one smile, one dollar, and one day at a time. Who knows what amazing opportunities may present themselves to you if you will only take that first small step into the abundant life of thank-living and thanks-giving.

Challenge: An Immediate Need We Can Help Meet Together

Still don’t believe you can make a difference? How would you like to help a college become a university in Tanzania?

Pastors Amani, John, and Anne are involved in the effort to raise computers for the university.

Check out tech4tanzania.org. This is the amazing story of how one couple heard of a need, acted out of abundance rather than scarcity, and with the help of many people are making a dream come true for students and faculty in this African nation. Imagine the ripple effect of teachers earning their degrees from an accredited university and teaching children who will then go on to productive careers and educational pursuits of their own.

The immediate need is additional funds to ship 100 Pentium 4 computers and books to the Southern Highlands University in Mbeya, Tanzania. The shipping is already arranged for the middle of July, so the need is immediate. I can also send you a list of books and textbooks needed for their library.The link to donate is found in the right hand column on the tech4tanzania blog. If you’d prefer, send checks to St. Paul Lutheran Church with ‘tech4tanzania’ in the memo, at this address:

St. Paul Lutheran Church

6839 Wertzville Road

Enola, PA 17025

Yep, we can make a dream come true. Will you join me?

Photos by espensorvik and tech4tanzania used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

Be Glad! God is with You Now.

“My life depends on engaging the most ordinary physical activities with the most exquisite attention I can give them. My life depends on ignoring all touted distinctions between the secular and the sacred, the physical and the spiritual, the body and the soul. What is saving my life now is becoming more fully human, trusting that there is no way to God apart from real life in the real world.”  – Barbara Brown Taylor, from An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith

Do you tend to put God in a box reserved for Sundays and special occasions when you really need a “dose of the divine”? I hope not because God has a thing about boxes–breaking out of them, that is. The Creator of the universe will not be confined, no matter how lovely and charming the container.

And you can’t leave God safely tucked away in the church building either. Nope. God is out the door when you are, flowing into the world in both subtle actions and exquisite love.

The Creator of the universe is intimately woven into every fiber of being, every strand of DNA, and every seed that sprouts and brings forth new life. This is not to say that God is some cosmic micro-manager but rather an all encompassing ever-presence.

This means that as each one of us engages in the daily activities and interactions of thanks-living, God is with us. Where you go, God goes; where God goes, you go. Removing the distinctions, as the Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor says in the passage above, helps us to live more fully into the reality and intent the Divine One has for all of our lives.

Look for evidence of the sacred, for God-sightings, in all aspects and moments of your life. You will find them if you look. As you do, give thanks. This is the day that the LORD has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! (Psalm 118:24)

Blessings on each day, each minute, and each breath of your life.

Photos by Oakley Originals and Love2dreamfish used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

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