My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Positivity, Art, and Possibilities

Art always amazes me with the impact it has to affect the emotions and our inner spirit. That is one reason I enjoy viewing art in museums and art shows. I appreciate the artist’s talent but also seek to find a message for myself in the artwork. The picture above this column is a small painting that I recently purchased in my office. Even though it is small it packs an expansive message to me as I view it.

It is an art piece by Kelly Rae Roberts. I like to know the stories of artists so I went to her website, . I was surprised initially to see she studied social work not art in her educational pursuits. She worked as a social worker and when she was 30 she followed her passion into art. She describes herself as a “lover of life and people”, on her website. As I think over the pictures I saw in the store of her work that is very true of her artwork. I can see how social worker creatively fits into what she paints.

Her style comes across to me as modern and abstract. But it is not a harsh abstract that often turns me off in museums. Her choices of colors feel very calming and positive. Her lover of people orientation to me is seen in many of the paintings as she has people in them or positive phrases that can encourage and uplift the human soul.

That is what drew me to the painting I purchased, “Believe in Possibility”. There is a path or a road across the middle of the picture and then t me I view it as an ongoing field on the other side with the sky bright with light. The green around the edges add a peaceful feeling to me. The “believe in possibility”, stands out in the light of the sky.

Sometimes life is like that, settled on one side of the road, a little dark but comfortable as that is where we are and what we are familiar with. But a dream or a passion we may have, may mean to take a risk across the darker road and follow our field of dreams. We can be stopped from following into the light by saying to ourselves “it is not possible”. But two verses come to mind that I thought of in the store when I bought this painting. One is Matthew 19:26 “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then in Mark 9:23 “All things are possible to him who believes.” One writer, Matthew focuses in on God in the equation that God makes all things possible and then Mark is looking at our human responsibility to have faith and believe in the God of possibilities.

As I look over my life I have been stopped many times from my lack of faith in possibilities coming true. So I stayed stunted in the foreground of the painting and not enjoying the light on the other side of the path. It is easier too often to say that is impossible to a new opportunity, rather than take a chance to try. This painting now in my office is a reminder that there are future possibilities ahead for the good that I have not even imagined yet. And some even right in front of me that I need to step across the road to enjoy them. I just need to keep faith in the God of possibilities as I step out and cross the road.

Reflection: What does “Believe in Possibility” mean to you? Is there new possibilities facing you and you need to step out in faith to give them a try?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Supporting Our Local Libraries

As a dedicated bookhead, I believe part of living more than ok is supporting my local library. When we moved to New Braunfels a trip to the library to obtain library cards was one of the first things we did as a family. As I was taking some books back a couple weeks ago, on the library door I noticed a sign promoting a Book and Author Luncheon. Since I had finished teaching my classes at the College I decided to purchas a ticket and go.

I was glad to see it was a fundraiser for renovating of the Children’s Room at the New Braunfels Public Library . This made an inner connection with me. I thought back to when I was in second grade during my Summers at the library in my hometown of Barberton, Ohio that my love of reading began with the Children Department’s Summer reading program. Programs like that is where creating bookheads begin by encouraging children to read. The children’s department was on the second floor and very bright and cheery. I remember the librarians were always positive and encouraging as they would ask what the books were about that I took out to read.
On the day of the luncheon they had a full house. The community support for the library says good things about New Braunfels. They had a display of how the new children’s room would look like, a silent auction, tables set up for the authors, and a bookselling table for the author’s books.

I was interested in hearing from the authors who spoke during the luncheon. Let me introduce you to the authors I heard. Each of their stories varied as to what moved them into writing.

Coert Vorhees has been a journalist, teacher, Fulbright scholar. Most of his writing is for middle and senior high school students. If you are a teacher you must check out his website to help youngsters with grammar. I like how he told me he made it to help the vegetables go down. How true, even college students do not enjoy going over grammar basics.

Earle Martin is a retired Episcopal Priest and psychotherapist. He shared with us his new book The Boy Who Saved My Life . The story is about his relationship as a grandparent with his autistic grandson. He shared how his grandson helped pull him out of a time of deep depression. It is a compelling story to encourage people in their relationships with special needs children in their sphere of influence.

Diana Untermeyer spoke of how her experience as a diplomat’s wife opened up an opportunity to write her first book about the country of Qatar. The title is Qatar: Sand, Sea, and Sky. It has amazing photography work in it.

John Demers was the most prolific of the featured authors with 37 books to his credit. With his stories of growing up in New Orleans during his presentation and his being a food editor it was no surprise that his non-fiction and fiction books relate to the world of food. You may want to check out his blog Delicious Mischief.

Dwight Edwards was the last author to present. He is a pastor in the Houston area and president of which encourages people to live at peak performance. His latest book is A Tale of Three Ships : Charting Your Course In Life. If you are looking for a gift for a high school grad or college grad this book has a positive message for them. Of course I believe it can help anyone at any stage of their life journey.

I am glad I took time to support my local library with this Book Author Luncheon. Just hearing the author’s stories I received much more back than the initial ticket price. Of course I enjoyed winning a door prize of Marble Slab Creamery ice cream as well. If you ever have a chance to attend a author luncheon try it out. If your local library is doing a fundraiser be a supporter to encourage reading in our culture.

Reflection: Think back to your experiences with libraries. What memories do you remember? Write these down in your journal. Take some time to visit your local library if you have not done so recently.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thankfulness for Mothers on Mother’s Day

Thankfulness enriches our lives by aiding in our positive mental health. Research reveals that people who our thankful have a happier outlook on life. They are more positive in their being. To have a thankful spirit we need to have an attitude of gratitude in our mindset as we look and savor life. One way to help in this mindset is taking time to be thankful on special holidays other than just Thanksgiving Day. As I write this I am thinking over Mother’s Day tomorrow.

I think back to my mother who passed away over 15 years ago now. Remembering memories of her on Mother’s Day does not make me sad but instead thankful for whom she was. She was a devout Christian with a strong faith that she passed on to me. It was a faith that gave her hope while living through the Great Depression, working in a Rubber factory during WWII, having a husband who died much too early leaving her a widow with three boys. Still she never complained as she had a faith that God would take care of things. She was faithful to her church. At her going home celebration after she died one minister mentioned she was one of his most faithful parishioners. She wanted the best for her sons so encouraged education. My being a bookhead today is because she emphasized membership at the local library. She was always supportive of our educational journeys. As I savor memories of her life there is much to be thankful for.

On this Mother’s Day I think of my wife’s faithful love and care for our daughter. Since our daughter came into our life, Susie has had a heart filled concern that Alejandra would have a bright future. Much of her growth into a young lady with her healthcare career in mind has been the fruit of my wife’s motherly wisdom and encouraging her to take time to shadow workers at the hospital where Susie works. My wife’s strong faith in God also is a reminder to me the importance of God in my life journey.

Below I have a poem by Helen Steiner Rice that makes us consider the depth of a Mother’s love. It is a love that is sacrificial, and unselfish. It is a love that unconditionally is devoted to the objects of her love her children. Rice makes a point at the end that a Mother’s love is a manifestation of God’s hand in the lives of her children. It is a love that reminds all of us to be thankful for the mothers in our lives and to be thankful for the positive impact of Mothers in the lives of their families.

A Mother’s Love by Helen Steiner Rice

A Mother's love is something
that no one can explain,
It is made of deep devotion
and of sacrifice and pain,
It is endless and unselfish
and enduring come what may
For nothing can destroy it
or take that love away . . .
It is patient and forgiving
when all others are forsaking,
And it never fails or falters
even though the heart is breaking . . .
It believes beyond believing
when the world around condemns,
And it glows with all the beauty
of the rarest, brightest gems . . .
It is far beyond defining,
it defies all explanation,
And it still remains a secret
like the mysteries of creation . . .
A many splendoured miracle
man cannot understand
And another wondrous evidence
of God's tender guiding hand

Reflection: What does Helen Steiner Rice’s poem say to you? Think about your mother and write down 5 things you are thankful for concerning her.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Viewing Creation With A Thankful Spirit

This past weekend my wife, daughter and I enjoyed a visit to the San Antonio Botanical Garden . Above this article you will see a few of the pictures from our visit. As usual we all had our cameras with us. We left early as the Texas heat is already making its presence felt. With the grounds map in hand we leisurely strolled through the garden.

Being in an environment where creation in all it’s beauty is pointing to the Creator behind it all is personally inspiring. It inspired a thankful spirit. You can enjoy a picture or painting of creation but seeing it live is always more moving of an experience. In art museums I tend to spend more time savoring nature works of art but they don’t come close to seeing what the Master Artist/Creator does in nature. There was such a variety to see and experience, from the rose garden, the Piney Woods area with a pond, the Hill Country wild flower area, and the Japanese garden.
My wife had some questions answered by the grounds keepers. The workers were very polite and were knowledgeable about the plants they tended. The one man we spoke with truly enjoyed his work at the Garden. My favorite area was the Japanese garden. They had gorgeous Japanese red maples and the shrubbery was neatly trimmed. In the Japanese garden area we took a rest from our walking. It was a quiet spot to simply, silently rest and mindfully soak in the colors around us.

Back to the thankful spirit that being in such a place brings to mind. As I savored our time there I first of all was thankful to the Creator God who has given us such beauty and variety in nature. What is there were no flowers and just one type of grass and only two types of trees everywhere on the earth? Can anyone say boring? As we went through the SA Botanical Garden in trees alone there was a vast variety. Then add the variety in bushes, flowers and rock formations. I was thankful for that.

Then being with family for an experience such as this reminds me to be thankful for my wife and daughter as I watched them enjoying the nature around them as well. I was thankful for a visitor from out of state who we talked to in the Japanese garden. Earlier she had overheard my wife wondering the name of a plant. Since we were sitting in the same area she took the time to share that it was an agave plant. I was also thankful for the dedicated workers who tended to the garden to keep it in such delightful condition.

I could have just rushed through the garden just to say I had been there, but by mindfully taking our time I fully enjoyed the total experience. From the most delicate flowers in the green house; to the cactus garden; to watching the turtles sunning themselves on a log in the pond, there was so much to be thankful for. When you go to a park, garden, zoo, or aquarium go into the experience with a sense of a thankful spirit and you will discover a deep restful enjoyment.

Reflection: Take a morning or afternoon to visit a local park or botanical garden. Go into the time with a spirit of finding things to be thankful for. Later, journal how you felt during the time and how you felt afterwards. Did it increase your happiness level?