My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Surfing Through The Difficult Waters of Life

Recently our family saw the movie, Soul Surfer the weekend it came out. We went to it as we heard it was a true story and inspirational in nature. It is the true story of Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton. She is a young lady from a surfing family. One day while practicing she lost her left arm at age 13 in a random Tiger shark attack. In real life she was attacked October 31, 2003 by January 10, 2004, she bounced back, competed in a surfing competition and finished fifth place.

IT is a powerful story of resilience in the life of Bethany from losing her arm to not giving up and coming back to go on to be a professional surfer. The movie is based on a book that was written back when the tragedy occurred. The movie shows the range of emotions of her family and from Bethany. Being so passionate about the water and surfing it is understandable in a way to see her wanting to go back into surfing soon after having lost her arm. Then as she tries in a local tournament her failure catches the best of her and the disillusionment affects her life.

In the disillusionment period she goes with her youth pastor and youth group to help with the Indonesian Tsunami victims. Through this experience, in stepping back away from surfing it gave her perspective in seeing that without her arm she could still help. In this sequence there is a touching yet comical scene as she helps a little child overcome the fear of the water. Then coming back home she sees the mail from other handicapped people she had encouraged by competing in the local tournament where she felt she was a failure.

There are various elements in her life that reawaken the passion for surfing. With family support and hard work on her part she trains for another competition. Her family helps out in her training and she doubles up her discipline and work in training to do her best. She does well enough in the next competition to keep her drive going to where she is a now a Professional surfer.

Resilience is the bouncing back from hardship in our lives. IN this story her spiritual faith is seen as one element in her resilience. She has her share of doubts from the standpoint of why would God allow this when she is so passionate about surfing. Also seen just how the positive side her spiritual faith and her Mission work in Indonesia gives her hope and expanded purpose that even though losing her arm she is possibly more useful in touching people’s lives.

I would say her family is another element to resilience to help in her bouncing back. They were 100% behind her in whatever direction she wanted to take whether to stay in surfing or find something new. OF course they knew sea water was in her blood. It is touching to see her family cheering her practice on and then when she enters the competition.

The final element of resilience I see in the movie is her discipline and hard work shines through. This is so important and is so lost in our culture. Hard work is not emphasized. Just get noticed on a reality tv show or promote YouTube videos about yourself and lady luck is supposed to open the door for you according to the American idol culture we live in. IN reality it takes hard work and passion. Before the attack Bethany’s passion and hard work is seen and after the attack and she knows that surfing is what she really wants hard work and passion is seen again. These are two vital aspects of resilience if we want to succeed in what we are doing. The passion is the motivator of the hard work and discipline.

This is definitely a must see movie from the standpoint of a positive story and what we can learn from it to improve our lives. I could imagine the change in peoples’ lives regaining new drive for their passions if crowds were attending this movie. OF course that has not happened. The critics knowing it is a true story of a Christian have done all they could do in their power to stop people from watching it. The Village voice reviewer trashes it simply because she is a Christian. This was one of the more terrible reviews I have ever read as he is blantantly going against the film just because the Christian sentiment in it.. Any critical thinker watching the movie can see the director does not go over board on the Christian angle. It has to be there as that is who she is but it is not overtly sappy spirituality. Another famous reviewr was a little more mild in his review but again since she is a Christian harps on his opinion that the movie does not deal with real struggles and she seems to rebound too quickly in his viewpoint. Well it was her life not his. Plus I don’t know what movie he was watching as you see the turmoil of the parents and you see Bethany’s doubts as well. The truth is she did rebound quickly due to her youth, her family support, her faith, her passion and her discipline. All things we can all learn from. Reading the critics made me know why more people went to see a movie about a cartoon bunny that plays drums and a horror slasher film than Soul Surfer. Such a sad commentary on a society that definitely needs to hear the message and example of resilience in this film instead of brain dead cartoons and horror movies.

What can we learn from a movie like this? Since I am a low risk taker one thing I immediately pick up on is this is another reason I would much prefer being in a swimming pool that going into the ocean with all kinds of dangerous creatures. But seriously think and reflect on a hardship time in your life. What did you learn from it and how did you bounce back? Then from the standpoint of after the first failure in coming back she took some time off to do a mission trip to Indonesia. We need to remember sometimes it is good to step back and try something different in your life to gain a new perspective.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Too Rushed To Notice the Joys In Life

Many times we are too rushed in life to notice moments of beauty in the world around us. Our schedules are packed with an overload of activity, so we look like we are whirring around throughout the day. Too much of this wears us down. This constant tiredness from being in a rush can skew our thinking that life is drab, boring and exhausting and we only look for troubles and problems which usually generates more negativity with more problems occurring.

In a recent Sunday church message the Preaching Elder told a story that relates to our changing how we use our time. To learn to slow down in life to capture the moments of beauty and joy that God places in our paths but we are too hurried to notice them. The story was a true one of a study done by the Washington Post to see how people use their time and their priorities. Do people recognize real talent in unlikely places? They had Joshua Bell a famous violinist, go to a Washington D.C. transit station. In the lobby he played for about 45 minutes. How many people of the crowd of hundreds of passerbys would stop, listen and enjoy the talented musician? Click on the link here and you will see a short snippit of the film done while he was playing.

The study found that only a handful of the hundreds that passed through actually stopped to enjoy his violin music. If only they knew people pay hundreds of dollars to hear Josh Bell play in concert halls. The video reminded me of my time of living in Chicago taking the trains for transportation. Many times at the station there would be street musicians playing. Most of the time, depending how busy I was; I would take a few minutes to listen and if I really enjoyed the music I would toss some coins or a dollar in their case or box. Why? Because, I enjoyed the beauty of the music. The sharing of their talent many times made my day better. Far too many people are too busy to take the time to enjoy a little portion of beauty.

Some may say catching a train is very important so they were right to rush by the musician. Yes, I did have my rushed days where running to the train was the most important issue. The important issue the Washington Times experiment drives home still, is do we stay in the rushed mode all the time or take times to savor the little beauties in life that come our way. Do we have to always quickly rush into the garage and miss the hummingbird in the front yard flower garden?

Jesus in the gospel writings says Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Matt. 6:28-29). In the context the meaning is focusing on overcoming our anxiety and worry. Yet in relation to being mindfully aware and savoring the beauty in life which the Josh Bell video speaks to; we need to consider, take notice of the beauty of the lily to learn what Jesus is getting at. If we are too rushed and hurried in life to notice the lilies that come into our lives we can’t learn from the beauty around us.

In making the most of our life take time to take note of the little things in each day of your life journey. Learn to slow down. Go to for ideas. The little beauties and joys can perk up a dull boring day or brighten a downright terrible day. At the same time do not forget the big joys as well. Last week we enjoyed a big joy as jazz great Ramsey Lewis performed a concert at our local Arts Center. The concert was 90 minutes of sheer joy with an ending with inspiration as he ended his concert with a medley of gospel songs, Precious Lord and Amazing Grace. Looking for Joy and Beauty in each day helps you in living a more than OK life!

To see a World in a Grain of San
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour. (William Blake)

Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower--but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is. (Tennyson)

Write down three little things that you saw or occurred in your life today that could be considered a joy or a beauty in your life. Do you feel you are mindfully aware of what is going on in your life to savor life to its fullest?