Friday, December 5, 2014

39 Clues (For a Better Life): 36-39

In no way do I consider myself a life coach. However, in light of turning 39 this month (and of course my wife had to remind that  I am in my 40th year) I have created a list of what I think are wise decisions we can implement in our lives - all for the sake of ongoing improvement and a sustained quality of happiness and joy.These are in no particular order. 

The homestretch...

36: Fuel your children's imagination. I have mentioned before the specific things that have ignited my imagination while growing up. Watching Back to the Future in the theater when I was 9 began a love of film and time-travel. Reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe opened so many windows in me that I'm still running on fumes from what my mind pictured in that far-off world. But one thing specifically set my imagination off into a stormy wildfire. Believing in Santa. Now I know this is a to- each-his-own type of thing and I make no judgments, but for me I owe a lot to that specific time period. Nothing was more powerful, more awake-inducing than knowing there would be gifts under the tree from no one other than Santa himself. Knowing that reindeer were going to land on my roof within hours sparked a fascination of how powerful an imagination could be. I dread the day my daughter's no longer believe in St. Nick, but like me they will still believe. The spirit of Santa...the idea of Santa is very much real. So, if you were to ask me if I truly believe in Santa. I wouldn't hesitate to tell you that I most certainly do.

So if you're a no-go on the Santa thing, then read to them. Read to them regardless. Take them exploring. Ask them questions about how they think things work. Sometimes you get wonderfully strange answers and other times you get the straight-up truth. "Sophie!" I said. "Your bottom is broken! It has a crack in it!" To which she replied, "No it not! That how God made it!"

From the mouths of babes.

37: Accept with "irrational and radical hospitality" the "lost, lonely and last." Years ago Alanis Morissette sang a song called, What if God was One of Us. Heaven forbid she sing a song about God. I remember so much uproar and criticism. I remember thinking, "Are people that unenlightened? Do they really not know what this song is really saying?" What if God was here on earth, right here, right now? How would we treat him? Think for a moment how we treat strangers. How many times do we walk by them without word? What if there was a reason behind that close encounter? To walk by a fellow believer is to walk passed a part of Christ. To walk by anyone else is a missed opportunity to get to share Christ.

I recently made a reference to how I had been missing so many opportunities because I wasn't taking the time to stop and just say hello. I wonder how many friendships I missed out on because my comfort zone became a complacent zone. 

There are people out there that are lost. Not only lost, but worse...misguided. Tethered by society's greed or victim of malnourished home-life, they need people like you to get them back on track. There's one thing that lost people all have in common. They are all looking for something. If you've been praying to be a blessing in someone's life, what they're looking for could be you. Welcome those opportunities with irrational and radical hospitality.

*"irrational and radical hospitality" and "lost, lonely and last" are from a sermon by John Speight.

38. Life is a your parts. One of my favorite memories about Christmas is watching Christmas movies with my dad. He'd love to watch the same ones every year. One of those was The Man in the Santa Claus Suit starring Fred Astaire. Like many movies since, one of the actors would play multiple parts in the movie. Fred was that character. And just like Fred, we are also that character. We wear many hats. Many faces and emotions that show our true identities and many facades that hide it.

We need to become the protagonists in our own lives. Be our own hero - someone that God would hang a picture of with the title, Believer of the Month, above it so when angels are in the break-room they can all take notice. In whatever role we are playing at the moment - most times it's more than one (Christian, husband, father) - we need to strive to be the best we can. Rocky and Indiana Jones are great protagonists because they aren't perfect. They get beat up and are flawed, but they persevere.

We need to take the bumps and bruises and turn them into learning experiences. We need to thrive on the fact that there is always an opportunity to get back up on your feet. Always a chance to become a better person.

39. Keep your word. I'm closing this list out with something else I learned from my mom. Through modeling, I learned it from both of my parents, but I specifically remembering my mom telling me, "Just because you don't say 'I promise' doesn't mean you don't keep your word. Your word, is your promise." There's no need to say, "I promise." It's pointless. Well, it should be pointless. Your word should be good enough. Just like business ethics. Why aren't ethics good enough?

Keeping your word also means you'll show up to something when you say you will. I know of a man who was (and still is) good to his word. When he said he'd be somewhere, he was questions asked. So the one time he didn't show up, the people expecting him knew something was wrong. There was in deed something wrong. He had been shot in the head during a break-in. But, like I said, he is still good to his word.

After Thought: Thank you so much for taking the time to read through these clues. I wrote them as suggestions for you and for myself as well. Let's begin applying these 39 clues today! And as always, although nobody takes me up on it, please share your successes and failures (and how you're persevering) in doing so. 

Dream Out Loud,

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