I love drinking my mint tea from this mug. I’m reminded every day that life is an adventure to be chosen.
It’s said that “choice, not chance, determines your destiny” and I believe that to be true. Life isn’t what only happens to you, although parts of it are – it’s impossible to control all things in our own lives and sometimes sh*t happens. In saying that, we do have a lot of control over the choices we make in life’s circumstances. The ability to make our own choices can be very powerful indeed!
For example, I cannot always stop someone from affecting me with their behaviours (whether positive or negative), but I can choose how I relate and respond to those behaviours. I can control my own attitudes, character, thoughts, and practical responses to what impacts my life.
We can also choose to live life as the greatest adventure, with all its highs and all its lows. Life is the full spectrum of what happens to us in our years on the planet. It can be beautiful and it can be full of battles and we can view it was a series of negative occurrences conspiring to overcome us, or as a Pollyanna positive (and unrealistic) set of circumstances. Life is a mixture of both positive and negative experiences and this requires us to live with a certain amount of risk and vulnerability. When we choose to respond and address each life circumstance we will find that much joy is spread upon the path of life as we embrace our own journey.
May we choose how to respond to life in ways that help us embrace love, joy and beauty. And as we do may we enjoy the journey 👣
There’s so much going on in life that sometimes we unintentionally say yes to the wrong things. We say yes to the things that hold us back, and the things that keep us bound up in pain, grief, and despair.
Say YES to living happy.
Say YES to healthy choices.
Say YES to prioritising your family.
Say YES to new adventures.
Say YES to finding joy.
Say YES to kindness.
Say YES to helping others.
Say YES to exercise.
Say YES to getting out into the fresh air.
Say YES to learning.
Say YES to working hard.
Say YES to making tough choices.
Say YES to determination and perseverance.
Say YES to life.
Why? Because you have to power to choose what you say yes to. In saying yes to the things that build up your life you are saying NO to the things that destroy your happiness in life. In saying YES to things that encourage (that word means ‘fills you with courage’) you, you are actually throwing wide the doors that will bring joy to your life!
Saying YES is a simple, effective way to attract joy, love, kindness and friendship to your life.
I was talking with a friend recently about some of the struggles I have been facing. It was Christmas day and I had spent most of the day feeling sorry for myself but trying my best to convince myself that it was okay; that I was okay. Friends had dropped by in the evening and we had great conversations and fun, but they had to leave. I was left in my apartment feeling more alone than before they arrived.
I began to feel deeply sorry for myself and was emotionally and mentally low. I could not muster much positivity at all. Life can be like this: it is not always the dream life we want it to be – it is real, it is gritty, and at times it can weigh upon us like an anvil.
I shared with a friend what I was thinking and what I was feeling. Instead of nodding in agreement and pacifying my complaints they gently reminded me that I needed to focus on my strengths. I was struck particularly hard by this statement: when you feel weak remember your strengths. I was cast back 20 years to my grandfather telling me how he used to count his blessings every day. And so, in the following hours and day I began to consider my strengths again, and it really did lift my spirits, and my thoughts were lifted with that.
The following day I went out for a long walk. I used to love walking in the hills and out in the wilds – it somehow soothes the soul. So I walked. I walked through mud paths alongside green fields, slipping and sliding, falling in the mud and rising up again laughing at myself and the mess I was in. When we struggle and we fall we are offered a choice. We can keep ourselves down, wallowing in the mud, or we can pick ourselves up and carry on again. Life is full of struggles and we can feel like we are muddling along, but we always have a choice. We can choose to focus on our strengths and pick ourselves up.
I was told by three people yesterday that they think I am a motivated guy. I do not feel motivated these days, but I am choosing to believe them because they are good friends, and they know me well. They see something strong in me that caused them to articulate their encouragement towards me. I am choosing to believe that they see strength where I see struggle and weakness, and I am choosing to lean into that strength:
Like my grandfather I spent some time counting my blessings. I counted a lot of blessings in my life: job, relationships, my kids, and my sense of humour, to name a few. It shifted my focus from self-pity onto things that would move me forward and pick me up again. Denying our struggles is a dangerous thing to do because we can become deluded about our reality. The opposite is also true: wallowing in the mud of messy situations keeps us locked into negative thought and behaviour cycles. What I am writing about today is the balance in the middle: it is the acceptance of the struggle, but it’s putting solutions in place that stop the struggles from tying us down and losing the enjoyment of the fuller life. Struggles can overwhelm us and blind us to the blessings we have in other parts of our lives.
Whatever struggles we face; we do need to acknowledge them without letting them become our sole focus in life. When we look at life with all our strengths and weaknesses, we can get up, stand up, and move forward one moment at a time. I’ve known these truths for a while, but life can hide them from us at times.
May you, whatever you are facing, find the strength within you to get up, stand tall, and stride forward today. And as you do, enjoy the journey.
The disciple is the salt of the earth. The disciple of Christ is created to bring goodness (flavour) into the world around them just as salt brings flavour to food.
What do we do at school when our friends are swearing and the conversations are not what we are comfortable with? Join in? Stay silent? Give a better perspective?
Or you are at work and your boss tells you to be ‘flexible with the truth’ so that sales targets can be reached?
Or perhaps you are in home group and people begin criticising the Church or individuals they know – do you join in?
But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?
I am sure there is a warning here for the Christian to be living in a godly manner rather than purely holding to doctrinal truths. The person that does not live as Jesus has taught (in the beatitudes as well as in other passages of scripture) loses their credibility as an advocate for Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount is often referred to as ‘the ethics of the Kingdom’, yet Jesus is saying here that ethical belief is useless unless it is actively followed.
It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
The person that does not live out Kingdom ethics us truly next to useless in the kingdom. Biblical belief is not enough…………. The person who claims to be a Christian but who does not follow Christ’s example in practice is of little use to God. But they are also not going to be respected in the world – they will be seen for what they really are – religious hypocrites. No one likes the person who claims to hold to something and lives another way – belief and action must work together to show that God’s way is the best way to live. The Christian who does not do this will find themselves being ‘trampled’ in their faith, and unable to defend themselves or their faith in Christ. They are useless to God and useless to the world.
“You are the light of the world.
Jesus describes us a second time – you are the light of the world. Light is extremely powerful – it dispels the darkness. It helps us know what way to move safely. It removes fear of the unknown. It lights up any space it can fill. It can be seen from a distance. It is bold. It is not hindered.
Jesus also called himself “the light of the world” (John 8:12) – he wants us to be like him!!
A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
A city has numerous lights. In Jesus’ day a city was normally set on a hill. The lights would have made the city visible from all around – it was impossible to hide. When I hear about the blackouts in the second world war I am amazed that London attempted to blot out every ounce of light – it was a necessary task, but a very difficult one. We are not to be ‘blackout’ disciples, we are meant to be “let the light out” disciples!! The light of Christ’s teaching and life is to shine out of our lives. Let the light shine!!
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
We would not hide a city. Neither would we hide a lamp. What’s the point in being a Christian if we are not wanting to let other people know about it? Let the light shine!!
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
Houses in Christ’s era normally had only one room – therefore a light would be seen by everyone in the room. It was places in a stand and everybody could benefit from it. Light was a blessing to them. The torch would burn brightly – we are to be bright for God. We are to be confident in letting our light shine.
Why is it that so many followers of Jesus are ashamed of the Gospel? Why are we found to be ashamed of Christ? Why are we apologetic about knowing the living God who gave us the very breath we breathe? We have relationship with our creator! What a wonderful thing to be confident in. Our lack of confidence can only come when we are not confident in the one with whom we relate. How are we relating to God? We need to live close to Jesus and his words if we are to be salt and light. Don’t be like Peter who followed Jesus from a distance during the Passion weekend – Let the light shine!!
In the same way, let your light shine before men,
Just as a city shines and can be seen – Let the light shine!!
Just as a torch in a Jewish home 2000 years ago brought light to all – Let the light shine!!
that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Here is what the whole thing is about – we are to be salt and light in our world (our school; our workplace; with friends, family and strangers) so that others will we how we live our lives and also praise God our Father in heaven. Our lifestyle (wholesome conversations; right actions; wise decisions; etc.) should be drawing others around us into the place where they also will want to praise God and live for him. Our lives are to be a witness for God! Let your saltiness season the world around you and let your light shine before all humanity.
This morning I enjoyed a beautiful breakfast on my own in my apartment. It was a rare moment of cosy calmness that just made me smile with joy. Not every moment is like this though. Life is made of a million moments, some of them calm and cosy, while others are crazy and chaotic.
I think that to stay sane in our crazy world we need to create intentional ‘moments’ of enjoyment. I’m committed as always to finding the joyousness that is all around us, even in darkest times. Life is hard: I’ve learned this in the experiences I’ve already come through. If you are in the middle of a difficult life experience, take heart… it will pass and you will most likely be okay.
Life is also beautiful and it evokes strength, providing opportunities to be courageous, adventurous and brave (quick heads up to Walter Mitty). Bravery isn’t required in times of enjoyment and comfort. It is required in times danger, darkness and despair. Bravery helps us to push forward towards those calm moments that restore our souls in the most beautiful ways.
Finding joy in hard times requires us to be brave, because when life crushes you all you want to do is fall in a heap of despair and do nothing. And that’s how despair wins. By causing us to fall and not get up again.
So today I’m calling myself to attention. I’m calling myself to stand up stronger and to create those calm warm moments. I’m telling myself to be adventurous, brave and courageous.
If I get knocked down I will rise again to laugh in the storm.
If I sense despair I will dance like crazy till joy comes.
If I feel broken I will call on bravery to give me strength to phone a close friend and talk it out.
If I sense confusion I will call upon courage, prayer and thoughtfulness to clarify my thinking until I can take some positive intentional steps.
Above all, I will seek out joy. I will find it. And I will embrace it, because joy is the source of strength to the human spirit in the darkest of days.
Where do you need to be brave today?
What choices do you need to make today?
What do you do to create moments of joy in your life to pick yourself up?
What encouragement could you give someone today who needs an emotional or mental lift?
Feel free to put your ideas and thoughts in the comments – I’d love to read your feedback and ideas 😀
It is our roots that help us to stand tall in life. The depth of our character is not found in our actions (these are merely the evidence of our character).
True character begins deep down in the depths of our very heart and soul. Our attitudes, thoughts, and actions flow from our inner character.
Character is what we use to stand or fall in all of life’s trials and tribulations.
People of good character will always seek the best outcomes possible for those around them – this doesn’t mean that they act to please people, rather it means they will continue to make the kindest decisions possible for all concerned.
In your own journey of personal development, develop your character above all else.
I have been considering lately the idea of ‘peace in a storm’. It’s a well known thought that the ‘eye of the storm’ is the most peaceful part of a tornado. While the tornado rages it’s centre is a place of calm. Chaos is external, while calm is internal.
With a little self-awareness and the development of personal self-control it is possible to maintain a place of calm when your life feels like a storm. It is possible to develop skills of peacefulness to navigate life’s hard times. Everyone has hard times at some point (you never really know the burdens another human carries).
Staying calm requires a level of emotional intelligence, as well as intentional emotional regulation. Stop for a moment and just be still: what are you feeling right now? Stress, joy, anger, frustration? All of them? None of them? Taking time to stop and notice our thoughts and feelings regularly will help us to develop the self-awareness required to maintain a centre of calm within ourselves.
But staying calm is not just about how we are internally: it is also about how we conduct ourselves externally. What comes out of us is what is first of all within us. If you have anger locked up within you, it will find a way out. If there is joy within you it will find a way of bubbling over into everyday life.
Emotions within are manifest in the actions out with our inner selves. It is important to process our feelings and thoughts so that we can deal with them in emotionally and behaviourally healthy ways. If we do not process what’s on the inside it will negatively impact our lives, decisions and relationships. Better to control the process internally than to have outbursts regularly. That’s not to say we are always in control – no one is – we get sad, angry, frustrated. The trick is to acknowledge the feelings for the reality they bring, and then decide how to act in response to those feelings.
Of course, every human being has at some point an emotional bucket that overflows in anger, sadness, and a spectrum of other emotions. That’s okay. Cut yourself some slack. The trick is to reduce the frequency of overflow and to grow awareness and skills that positively release those emotions towards resolutions.
Whatever you are going through right now, may you have the time to stop and acknowledge how you are feeling and thinking, and may you intentionally decide how they will externally impact your life in the most positive manner possible.
It is easy to do the expected thing, the usual thing, the normal thing. We are often encouraged not to dream, not to dare, and not to move in the direction of our dreams.
Dreamers are thought to be time wasters, lazy, or having their head in the clouds. This is as far from the truth as it is possible to be. Every great novel, poem, work of art, film, and invention started as a thought, a daydream or a silly notion. The creators of all these things had something in common: they all moved in the direction of their dreams!
Think of Martin Luther King crying out ‘I have a dream’. His dream became a movement that has transformed much of the world for the better.
Steve Jobs was fired from his own company, only to come back and transform how we use mobile technology.
What might we achieve if we were to really move in the direction of our dreams? What decisions would you need to make to align your reality to your dreams? What changes would you make to your life?
To move in the direction of your dreams you might need to silence your internal negative chatterbox in your head. You might need to spend less time listening to the naysayers in your life who tell you to just stop dreaming. Let me encourage you to never stop dreaming: our world is the product of a million dreams come true!
Today I dare you to move in the direction of your dreams! You may find that following your dreams fills your life with more joy. You may notice you feel more hopeful. And you may find that you live with a deeper sense of personal purpose. We gave wine life and it really dies matter, so make it count in whatever ways you dream it should. And as you do…