Sunday, August 14, 2011

Navigate By Joy

Yesterday I was speaking at a success workshop for kids. The group was comprised of 45 youth between the ages of 8 and 13 years old. I was teaching them about E.Q. versus I.Q. and the value of being able to articulate feelings. E.Q. is the quotient each of us possesses to say how we feel, ask for what we need and articulate what is going on in our hearts.

Each youth was given an assortment of colored pencils. I asked them to pick a color initially that represented their "upset" feelings. For each one it was represented by a different color. And then I asked them to pick the color that represented "happy" to them.

For me that color is yellow. Something about the color yellow ignites me, fuels me, does my heart good. It evokes images of brilliant days on the beach, sunshine, fields of happy sunflowers, drives in my yellow XTRRA, and sales at Walmart smiling at me. It makes me feel joy.

There is power in finding what brings you joy; the giggling, infectious, gotta let it out, holding your belly joy. Equally as powerful is clarifying what brings you pain.

When you find those two polar opposites there is born the ability to navigate your life in such a way that no longer depends on luck, but is guided by clarity.

Luck cannot be the fuel of your life for it is rare. And you cannot always avoid the realities of pain in the human existence.

Find your happy spot, your happy color, your joy. Navigate and fuel your life by it - and you will find your life path is truly miraculous adventure.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

God's Not A Side Dish

As I walk the halls of the ICU I can see into each room. Most of the patients are lying in the hospital beds with ventilators, beeping monitors, white gauze wrappings and crumpled non-important linens. In some rooms I catch the eyes of the visitors. Always the same look.


Usually the patients in ICU are not coherent. It is the visitor that is alert. And the visitor is suffering.

As I stop at certain rooms and sit for a while, listening to the hurts as a Chaplain, I have the profound opportunity to follow the trail of breadcrumbs into their deepest pain. Almost all of those I talk with in those rooms wish they had made God more important in their lives.

It's in those moments where we might lose someone we love that we become introspective. It's in those moments that we realize our life has been full of many things, career, money, possessions, ego . . . and that none of them really satisfy. All of the investments of time and energy truly never fill our spiritual bellies like the depth and sweetness of a relationship with God.

In those moments people realize that God is not a side dish. He's the main course.

It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities and go weeks without God. We have the time to buy that iPad, see that latest-greatest movie, try out that new restaurant . . . but in the buffet of life, we find ourselves too busy, too full of other things . . . and God time ends up looking like that half a peach with a scoop of cottage cheese.

Friend, I hope you never find yourself in an ICU with ventilators and beeping monitors. I hope you never find yourself sobbing by the side of a bed begging God to help you make sense of a terrible loss.

But if you ever do have those traumatic moments . . . I pray that you've feasted on God daily so that you have the spiritual strength to endure tragedy. I pray that you've gotten to know God's character, trust His power and will for you and your family, and feel His divine hand in your life.

In those moments big and small, I pray that you've made God the main course.

You see, God's not a side dish. He's why you came to the table in the first place.