Life Is Like A Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich

    I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation,  filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;  Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.—Psalm 139:14 The Voice

I saw my friend, Sarah, walking by me the other day with her head down. “Look up,” I said. “Things are going to get better.” I wondered what life had delivered that made her look so forlorn. As I walked on, I concluded that Sarah was probably suffering from a huge dose of feeling ordinary…which nobody is, by the way!

You are uniquely you. The talents God has given you set you apart. Your gifts make you extraordinary, even if there are days when you feel that you are just another cookie-cutter replica of Joe or Jane Ordinary. Whatever you may think, you are not just another common, mundane person taking up space on earth.

You were born an original. You are the exclusive, distinctive, matchless person God had been working on for a long time.

Your life reflects how unique you are. No one else has had the exact same experiences.

Many of us see our lives as commonplace. We view our contributions as run-of-the-mill. We look at our lives as middling and mediocre. Just like the painstakingly familiar peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Delicious but unglamorous.

I’m afraid that people are giving up their appreciation for treats that have long been our mainstay—like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They are trading PB&J sandwiches for trendier snacks. Like hummus, for example. I haven’t exactly developed a taste for this growingly popular dip. Of course, I know it’s wonderfully low in fat, high in protein, and made from those healthy legumes—chickpeas.

At our house, we took the mundane PB&J sandwich to a new level recently and made it extraordinary.  Someone brought home a container of freshly-made peanut butter from the deli and a jar fresh-fruit laden jelly. How healthy is that?

I should have reminded Sarah that life is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but it’s up to you to make it extraordinary. You may look like everyone else, but you’re not. Tap the power God has given you by recognizing the wonder in who you are.

 

Watch Your Words!

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  Proverbs 23:7

I worry sometimes that, when people walk past my door and hear me talking to myself—audibly—they may be concerned.  No need. Usually, I am speaking aloud those affirmations I need at the moment.

Positive affirmations are important. Speaking them aloud helps them to sink in better.

Did you realize that whatever you speak over your life is what happens?

Whatever you speak to yourself is the life you create.  When you speak words of healing, then, you are healed. You have the power to speak victory over every illness, every bout of depression or any negative situation.

What you say in your heart happens.  Those words that you speak to yourself internally are the words that grow out of your innermost thoughts.  When we envision something, we create our own reality.

There is a popular Donald Lawrence gospel song with the words, “encourage yourself in the Lord.”  Of course, those lyrics are based upon the Word of God.  “…but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”—1 Samuel 30:6(b) (KJV) His life was in danger. He had suffered tragedies, now mutiny. His own troops were murmuring about stoning him. If David could speak encouragement, with all of the trauma and difficulties he faced, so can you.

When you do that—when you encourage yourself in God—the Lord Himself will, in turn, encourage you.  God hears; He listens. He uplifts you with heavenly encouragement. Just take note of the words recorded in Psalm 10:17 (NIV): “You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and listen to their cry.”

Watch your words because your words have the power to kill or your words can give life.  How incredibly wise Solomon was when he recorded this warning for our benefit:  “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.”—Proverbs 18:21(a)

The words that you nurture are the words that bear fruit.  Your words have a harvest. You plant them by speaking them and you can be certain that whatever you plant will grow. Just like in the natural world, if you plant corn, don’t expect to harvest green beans.  With the words you speak, you will harvest something, and you don’t want your harvest to be illness and despair.

While I acknowledge that it is human to speak words of doubt when you feel that there may be a reason to give up, we should never speak those words.  Make a commitment never to say, “I cannot do this” or “I won’t make it.” We serve a God who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask of Him or even think about asking. Apply this truth to your words.

Believe in your next victory. Speak it. Have confidence in the exceeding greatness of God’s power to bring what you believe to pass.

The Dream I Dream for You

Our dream for joy is (or, at least, it should be) the dream you dream for someone else. And not just for you and yours. And so, today, I dream a dream of greatness…just for you.

The Garden of Dreams is a neo-classical historical garden situated in the midst of the city of Kathmandu in Nepal. In the midst of this bustling, urban metropolis, the Garden of Dreams exists as a tranquil, lasting legacy of the extraordinary vision and talent of one man who dreamed a better world and then created it.

Closer to home, we have The Garden of Dreams Project at Madison Square Garden. In New York City, the Garden of Dreams Foundation, which has partnered with The Madison Square Garden Company, strives to make dreams come true for children who are facing various obstacles.

The projects involve the New York Knicks basketball team, Rangers hockey team and other connected entities. According to their web site, “in the six years since its inception, Garden of Dreams has worked tirelessly to fulfill its mission by creating unique and unforgettable events and activities—often involving unprecedented access to Madison Square Garden celebrities, events and venues—that have brightened the lives of thousands and thousands of special children and their families.” An example of their activities is surprise player visits scheduled for youngsters who are confined to local children’s hospitals.

In life, dreams can be shattered by virtue of the fact that life happens. When someone’s dreams have been broken, it’s our job to be there to help them bear their burden. Let’s face it, everyday joy is a global responsibility that we all share.

Suppose you choose not to be concerned.  Suppose you choose to ignore the broken dreams of others.  Then, where do you go to get away. Do you have a gate high enough, a neighborhood far enough away, a cocoon that really works? How do you rear your children in a world where there are no bullies, no drugs, no guns, no jails, no depression, no suicide, and no negatives? How do you create that circle? The answer is that you can’t, so that’s the reason it makes sense for everyone to help those beyond our inner circle to become whole, healed, healthy and…filled with joy.

The channel for everyday joy, on the global level, is that we care about one another. Each of us is responsible for building a spiritual Garden of Dreams that encompasses all of those whom we know and love…and the stranger you sit near on the bus or pass on the street as you’re cruising by in your comfortable, air conditioned car.

Make this personal note. Dream a garden for those who are homeless, helpless, abused, hungry, poor or illiterate. Whatever you can think of, just do it. Think of something meaningful, purposeful and helpful. Share the dream of everyday joy.

Yes, You Can–Take Your Spirituality to Work!

On one thing we can agree:  for the average individual, the workplace has its challenges.  What is critical is how you confront those challenges. People bring their emotions to work.  They can be unhappy.  Insecure. Jealous.  Angry.  Depressed.  Or just plain unpleasant.

I wonder what would happen if you infused the workplace with your faith? What if you decided to bring your most loving, compassionate, calming, forgiving, self-assured ego to work?  How would you go about doing that? What impact would it have on the lives you touch?

As a consultant, I have been up close and personal with a variety of organizations over the past two plus decades and observed a range of workplace behaviors. In many ways, as adults, we haven’t made much progress since kindergarten.  In a down economy and with unemployment high, people feel pressured to keep their jobs and to look good to their superiors—even at someone else’s expense.  According to a CBS News special report, workplace sabotage has increased.  This ranges from pranks to malicious attacks.  Someone steals your work and takes credit for it. A colleague covers up their mistake by blaming you.

Here are three steps you can take to become the person you are meant to be at work—a human being with the nature of Christ in you.

Step One:  Every day, as you enter the work environment, see yourself as nothing less than your “best spiritual self.”  God wants to be present in everything we do. See yourself as God’s trophy in your workplace.  If your light is hidden, uncover it. Cultivate it. Be prayerful.  Dr. Norman Vincent Peale once spoke of looking at the backs of people’s heads and praying for them, silently.

Step Two:  Do the right thing.  Whatever others say or do, make your response positive. If you’re provoked, don’t be quick to retaliate. Sometimes retaliation backfires and you end up looking as culpable as the other person.  Even if the situation is challenging, bring out your best smile. Years ago, someone gave me this advice: “Smile; hold your head up, even if you’re dying hard.”

Step Three:  Be solid and stable.  My son, Randy, is a firefighter and emergency medical technician who faces crises every day.  The people he attends encounter life-threatening situations and, sometimes, he puts himself at risk to aid them.  Every day brings an unexpected surprise. The one consistency is his compassionate spirit. I’m convinced Randy was born for this work. You may not fight fires or use the Jaws of Life to rescue a victim from a wrecked automobile, but you can still experience what it is like to bring spiritual values to work.

As of this day, make this your mantra:  Faith is not just my Sunday pursuit!