My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
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Friday, June 29, 2012

Tears of Joy Sets Us Free

Positive psychology and spirituality principles are not about us living a carefree life with happy smiles plastered on our face continually. The reality of our life journey, places us in hardships and times of sorrow from time to time. Some of us have more hardships than others. Some of us have higher mountains to climb and lower valleys to go into. The good news is we don’t have to stay in the dark valleys or remain on the arduous climb up the mountain. We can have times of exhilarating joy on the mountain top or restful joy in the valley meadows by still flowing streams of refreshing delight. The concept of positive psychology principles is to help people have more joy in their journey as they move out of times of grief and sorrow.

A song that comes to mind on this topic is “Tears of Joy” by Tuck and Patti. It is a simple song with a pleasant jazz feel and joyful energy. Take a listen to it by clicking on the title and soak into your spirit what they are saying in the lyrics.

Tears of Joy by Tuck & Patti

I can see the trace that sorrow has left upon your face
And being realistic I know there are some things that
Time just won't erase

But still I'm coming to you gently and there's one promise I can make
Beside of every tear that sorrow has left you Tears of joy will take their place

Tears of joy – hey Wash you clean Come on and let them set you free!

Hey sometimes I know life can make you feel like you don't know what to do
But once there comes a time when you must settle down And feel the presence of the One who loves you

Oh yes I'm coming to you gently and there's one promise I can make
Besides of every tear that sorrow has left you Tears of joy will take their place

Tears of joy – hey Wash you clean Come on and let them set you free!

If I could fly I'd fly straight to you Surround you with my love

You'll be crying tears of joy – yeah Wash you clean Come on and let them set you free!


Come on say, and let those tears set you free say come on now you'll be crying tears of joy
Oh tears of joy You'll be crying tears of - you'll be crying tears of joy
Say joy now joy real joy say tears Tears of joy yes
You'll be crying tears of joy ah - they say that tears can wash you clean
And set you free set you free You'll be crying tears of joy
I'll surround you with love You'll be crying tears of joy.

The song starts off looking at the reality of life. There are times of sorrow and we can often see it visibly in people’s countenances. Some of those times are so full of deep grief they leave scars that time can not erase. We can move beyond the time of grief but sometimes there are physical scars or emotional ones that on certain times of the year trigger memories of the person or event. I know that is true in my life as there are days of the year when I can remember some of the difficulties I faced or important people that passed away.

When dealing with friends or family going through times of sorrow it is important to listen to the phrase, “I’m coming to you gently”. In sorrow people need the caring presence of others not glib “You’ll get over it” or “ The Bible says all things work out good!”. In the depths of sorrow the individual is not ready to see any good in the situation. In the midst of the confusion of these times in our life there is time to set time aside, and to settle down and rest. It is then that we can feel the presence of the One who loves us. I capitalized the word One as for me in my spiritual worldview, I look at it as being open to experiencing God’s presence during difficult times. I do not know if that is what the song writer meant. Holding on to God in difficult times has been a great help to me in the times of sorrow I have experienced.

Now what about the promise made in the song, ” Beside of every tear that sorrow has left you Tears of joy will take their place”. What does that mean? It probably means something different to every person reading this. I remembered in Brownsville after a hurricane would pass by with the stormy rains a clear sunny day would come. Many times after a hard rain storm there is joy in seeing a rainbow. These can become metaphors for the harsh reality of our difficulties in life. After times of tearful sorrow, tears of joy can come into our life. The time period is different for all of us. The writer uses tears of joy to move in to wash us clean. As we move into the phase from sorrow to joy we experience a refreshing of our spirits as they have been cleansed. We are then set free from the chains that sorrows bind us with. Free to live with joy on the journey. Again remembering on those certain days memories will come but in the renewed freedom even those days of remembrance can be celebration of what the person meant to us if it was a time of grief. Or if it was a disaster that affected us, the days of remembrance can be a time to reflect on what we learned to improve ourselves through the experience.

Reflection – Reflect over one of your times of sorrow. How did you move into a “tears of joy time” through the experience? Think over how the difficulties in your live have affected your life journey. Also think through the lyrics, “If I could fly I'd fly straight to you surround you with my love”. How can you show love to someone going through difficulties?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Enjoying Summer Reading as a Bookhead

Being the Bookhead I am, I enjoy seeing an emphasis on reading during the Summertime. Even if we are working during the Summer there is change of pace that opens up time for more reading. I noticed that our local library does not only have Summer reading programs for children but also for adults. Many magazines and newspapers have suggested reading lists for the Summer. Oprah’s Magazine in the July issue has a variety of books to read. The Writer magazine in the June issue has 25 suggested books from editors and writers. Here also are a few websites that also have good ideas for selections of books:

Harpers Bazaar


The Blaze’s Summer Reading List

Books for children and teens

Also if you have children find creative ways to encourage reading. While traveling recently I came across the Summer issue of MASK magazine, . They had some tips and information about Summer reading for children. The article spoke of the issue of summer brain drain that children can lose up to two months worth of reading skill during the Summer if they are not doing any reading. This makes sense as in any discipline – use it or lose it. So they suggest, which I fully support, being involved with your children in Summer library reading programs. They had some creative ideas as well, such as if you are taking a vacation have the children read up on the area you are traveling to. Or as new movies come out see if there is a book related to it and read the book together with them and discuss both. Also make use of electronic media such as e-readers. That keeps them reading in a format they are used to if they enjoy being on the computer.

During the Summer do reacquaint yourself and your children to your local library. I encourage supporting your local bookstore for books you really like and want to have in your collection. Unless you are rich you can’t buy all the books so that is a great thing about the library. On the receipt on my library printout, when I check out a book, it reminds me of how much money I have saved. Plus as you go through the shelves of books you can come across new books to expand your mind in new directions. Whichever direction you go in your reading this Summer put trying to be a Bookhead in your schedule.

Reflection: Look through a few lists of Summer reading lists. I give you a few list ideas above. See if there is a book that peaks your interest. Try reading something new from your regular style. Visit your local library and read a book from a new author or a non-fiction topic that is new to you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Which Ship Do You Want To Be On?

(I am trying to write something each Friday but since I will be out of town I thought I would post this early)

In looking at our life journey I am a strong believer in the power of metaphors to help us shaping our direction. That is why I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Tale Of Three Ships by Dwight Edwards. He is an author I met at the recent author luncheon I wrote about. He is an author, Pastor of a church in Houston and President of High Octane for the Mind. If you still need to purchase a gift for a high school or college graduate this makes an excellent choice to help shape a young person’s life. He looks at our lives as being one of three types of ships.

His driving thrust is that we are created for a purpose. To go beyond just existing in life or just getting by, or where we look back and see that life has past us by in our final days we need passion and purpose. In that search in our life we are on at one time or another one of three ships. It is our choice which one we spend the most time on.

The first one he writes of is the Sinking Ship. Doesn’t sound like a nice one, but in reality many people spend much of their time there. This is the ship where we are living in survival mode. “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” -Henry David Thoreau. This quote describes this ship rather well. There is a song in each of us that is meant to be shared with the world. For most sadly it remains silent as they allow life to pass them buy just like a herd of cows grazing and sleeping life away. Never trying anything new or taking a risk. Just living paycheck to paycheck and waiting for life to end.

The second ship is the cruise ship. Now we are talking. If you have never taken a cruise you should try it. All your comforts are met, food anytime you desire, and totally relaxing. The cruise ship is a metaphor for a life full of materialism and the pursuit of the pleasure principle. Is life just about acquiring more stuff than the next person? Living just for pleasure and material things leaves us in the end with just a bunch of stuff at the end of life. King Solomon’s one major theme in Ecclesiastes is that a life striving after things is just vanity. This again does not mean it is wrong to enjoy a vacation, a movie night, a fine restaurant, ect. The question is should that be a focal point of our existence? Ponder over these words by psychologist, William James , “The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” He was speaking of doing significant things in our life. Our toys and stuff just wind up in resale shops or junk yards after our death.

The final ship is the battleship. This is not about starting fights he is using the battleship as a metaphor for making a difference or having a significant impact in life. This hearkens back to the previous William James quote. This ship looks at a life where having a significance and a purpose in your life is an important focal point. The author terms it as having a noble cause. Here he quotes one of my favorite authors Psychiatrist Victor Frankl, “ Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity.” Frankl’s words take us back to the concept that we all have a purpose for our life. Part of the adventure is finding the purpose and living it out.

As I look back most of my life has been mostly on the sinking ship and a journey on the battleship with a little bit of cruise ship tossed in. The author points out that we spend time on each ship. In seeking the best life possible and living an exceptional life we need to focus in on ship number three the battle ship – living for a noble cause.

Reflection: What ship are you presently spending most of your time on? Take 20-30 minutes to journal or draw your dreams of what battleship living looks like to you? What specific opportunity do you see in your ships telescope that is an area you can have significance in? Is it a particular cause or person you can spend more time with?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Numbering Our Days To Reflect On Our Purpose

This past Sunday at the church I attend, as the minister wrapped up his message, he presented a prayer request I had never heard of before. He mentioned that his birthday was coming soon and he was facing a new decade. He was seeking God’s wisdom on what to do in the next decade of his life. He spoke of the biblical phrase to “Number our days” in the context of his life journey. In planning our purposeful direction in our long range goals, it is important to take time to reflect over future time periods.

I appreciated his openness to remind us that it is important to seek prayer from others on our life journey’s direction. As well, we need personal reflection times to look at the long range decades of our lives and the numbering of our days. As soon as I was home at my computer I looked up the Biblical references of “numbering our days.” There were two Psalms with the phrase in them.

Psalm 39:4 "Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.” The emphasis of the Psalm is the reality of how brief our life is. In verse 5 David goes on to say, ”Each man’s life is but a breath.” No matter how long you can hold your breath; a breath is not a long time. David seems to be complaining to God in the text. Commentators on the passage, bring to light that he may be reflecting over the many difficulties in his life; such as his years of being on the run from King Saul even though David was anointed as King. He had to have been heartbroken by also being chased away by his own son, Absalom at one point in time. He had many tragedies and sad hurtful emotions that he took before God. Looking again at the text in verses 2 & 3 , “my anguish increased. My heart grew hot within me”. Here are feelings of anger and anxiety David is experiencing. These feelings are not wrong instead, it is what we do with them. Here he is bringing them to God in prayer. If he lived today he would have been tempted to star in a reality tv show and rage against the injustices in his life. But something tells me being the man after God’s own heart he still would have taken the feelings to God in his quiet time and would reject tv deals. In difficult times and times of regret we often realize how short a time our life journey is. This Psalm is a reminder don’t wait for difficulties to come to take time to reflect on numbering our days.

The other Psalm that has the phrase is Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The overall context of this Psalm exalts God’s greatness in His eternal nature versus the brevity of our lives. In this Psalm, David is not looking in anguish at the end of his life. Instead he is seeking God’s wisdom in how to make his life count for God. He wants to understand the time he has left so that he can use it wisely. Wisely for the work God has for him. This is seen in the final verse 17, “May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.” He repeats the phrase “establish the work of our hands”, so the Psalmist David sees this as an important element of using our time, “our days”, in a wise manner.

Charles Spurgeon in his Treasury of David has this to say about this verse, “A short life should be wisely spent. We have not enough time at our disposal to justify us in misspending a single quarter of an hour. Neither are we sure of enough of life to justify us in procrastinating for a moment. If we were wise in heart we should see this, but mere head wisdom will not guide us aright.” Spurgeon is right. If we look at the emphasis in both passages we see the brevity of life. If our life goes by so quickly and time is one way to honor God, we need to be wise in using the gift of time. At the end of Psalm 90 David is seeking God’s favor, His blessing, for God to establish His work in David. I don’t believe this is speaking only our vocational work even though it is important. In our numbering our days we need to look at all the variety of works God has for us to do and then use our time wisely to honor God in these works.

The idea of numbering our days reminds me of Stephen Covey’s principle of "Begin with the end in mind” As we look into the next year, 5 years or next decade to see where we want to go and accomplish we are visualizing a mind picture or a blue print of what the end results look like. Covey states, “If you don't make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default. It's about connecting again with your own uniqueness and then defining the personal, moral, and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily express and fulfill yourself. “ These thoughts line up well with King David’s in Psalm 90 to seek a heart of wisdom to see the work ahead that God has for us.

Reflection: In your own quiet time include a day from time to time to reflect over the numbering of your days. Seek for wisdom in making the most of the time you have for your brief journey here on earth. Have an openness to ask friends to pray for your numbering of days reflection times as the pastor that was mentioned at the beginning did.

Friday, June 1, 2012

How Do You Make a Difference?

Part of living a better life in our pursuit of happiness is making a difference. Our purpose driven nature that has been placed in us, pushes us to make a difference in the world around us. Without making a difference we boringly find ourselves fulfilling the description by Henry Thoreau that we are living, “lives of quiet desperation”. A world full of people in our world of work and relationships in our social life means that our difference making is often people oriented. The question is how do we make a difference?

I just finished the book Making a Difference by Being Yourself , by Gregory Huszczo. He is a professor at Eastern Michigan University in their Business Management program as well as being a consultant and leadership coach. What drew me to the book is that he focuses on making a difference by first knowing our strengths. He encourages the reader to explore their personality type based on the Myers-Briggs assessment. Each of us have unique strengths that relate to our personalities and as we know ourselves better we can tap into these strengths to make a difference in our work and relationships.

The book also points out that we make a difference through our abilities which relate back to the personality strengths. If you are an extrovert you have that natural social ability to go the extra mile in helping others. Or you may be a high Sensing type that is great with details so you can help in guiding people to look at the steps they need to take in fulfilling their dreams. We improve in our making a difference the more we understand ourselves.

Also in making a difference we need to consider our motivations. That can affect how we come across in our interactions. If my motivation to serve is simply for what I can get out of you, people will see through it. For example once when I was a student in a Bible College in Chicago, I volunteered at a group home for troubled boys. It was a time of mentoring and I was working with a 12 year old. I remember the first meeting with the boy as he said “are you like the guys from Church X who are just trying to get us to go on their bus Sundays?” Especially young people can see through false motivations where they are just a statistic instead of a person to be cared for.

The author also mentions that we need to consider how the opportunities we have had in our lives can affect in how we make a difference. Some of those opportunities as I look at it may have been difficulties we have gone through. Difficulties and hardships strengthen us so we can be more empathetic to others going through hard times.

If you are interested in knowing your personality type better there are a couple things you can do. You can go to a local Counselor who can take you through the MBTI. Or there are a couple of helpful websites. The first I will mention is: This link takes you to a page where you can look at descriptors to estimate your type. Then you can read more about the type descriptions. Another helpful page is which in the top left hand of the webpage offers a free Jung Typology test, (the MBTI is based on the work of Dr. Jung). It takes about 10-15 minutes to do the test and then you can read a report where you can reflect on your unique strengths that come from your personality.

Back to making a difference. The book I mentioned is about looking at how you have made a difference in your work situations and how you can continue in new ways to make a difference. Don’t forget to look into your social relationships as well, understanding in making a difference, it is better to be a giver than a taker. By understanding yourself better you can better learn to find new ways to be a giver in social settings even outside of close friends. Again thinking back to my life at the Chicago Bible College, Moody Bible Institute, I had a fellow student who was complaining about how rude and unfriendly the workers were at the bank nearby and stores in Chicago. I had never had this problem. I always smiled at the bank tellers and thanked them for their help and always had a positive reply back. I then noticed this student in his interactions at stores and restaurants came across stern and matter of fact. So I thought to myself, was the problem the bank teller or store clerk or was it the customer with a stern look? Act friendly and most of the times you get friendly back.

Reflection: Write down a couple of sample events when you felt you made a difference in your workplace be as detailed as possible. Do the same for a couple of social settings either with friends or maybe an interaction at a store -- again being detailed as possible. If you took the time to do the personality type exercises do you see any of your strengths shining through the details of your making a difference? Write down one new way you could make a difference either in your work or social relationships.