Tuesday, December 18, 2018

CHARLIE and the DOC

Have you thanked Him?

Have you praised Him?

Have you made it your priority to agree and cooperate with Him today?

Have you taken that deep breath and listened for what He has for you today?

1 Timothy 2:1 (The Message)

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.



My wife Dr. Delaney shot this over to me yesterday via email with the subject line, “thought you would like for DISPATCH" (OFH).



So, at the good Doctor’s request, here is a little from her and Charlie Brown today. I added the scripture references for good measure!



Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I introduced my 3-year-old daughter Marty to the 1965 classic A Charlie Brown Christmas, an animated feature that would never get greenlit in today’s world of over-protective — and overly precious — parenting. The opening lines of the film set the stage for what is one of the most poignant and sophisticated messages geared toward youth I’ve ever seen. “I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus,” Charlie Brown, who’s battling a whole host of neuroses that could rival Woody Allen’s, says to his friend. “Christmas is here but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel. I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.”



As the story unfolds, we learn the source of Brown’s blues — an excess of holiday cheer driven by consumerism and untethered to more substantial and enduring forms of meaning. Although Brown eventually finds solace and significance in the Christian theology underlying the national holiday, I spoke with a top social psychologist and philosopher about how the quest for deeper meaning (however you define it) can temper your holiday blues.



The root of Brown’s sad state of mind may stem from the disconnect between how he feels and the overwrought displays of joyfulness. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, who studies happiness, acknowledges how overwhelming the cultural imperative to be happy can be: “The emphasis on happiness can feel oppressive,” especially, she notes, during the holidays. “The idea that we should all be happy all the time is ever present in the United States,” she explains, but it reaches a crescendo this time of year, when we’re expected to be as plump with cheer as Jolly Old St. Nick. “When you feel like everyone else is happy and having a good time, the contrast is more salient, more striking,” she says.



Paul Thagard, Ph.D., an eminent Canadian philosopher and author of The Brain and the Meaning of Life, agrees, adding: “Pursuing happiness by itself, or cheer, is not a very good strategy because it’s not clear what that is,” he says, pointing to a 2013 study that demonstrates the ephemeral nature of happiness compared to the more enduring and satiating nature of meaning. “Meaningfulness...may involve understanding one’s life beyond the here and now, integrating future and past,” the paper reads, “In contrast, happiness, as a subjective feeling state, exists essentially in the present moment.”



With that in mind, Thagard and Lyubomirsky urge us not to get caught up in the gaudy theater of holiday cheer and instead anchor ourselves in meaning, as Charlie Brown eventually learns in the film. Try this 5-pronged approach:



Cultivate deep connections (Proverbs 17:17)



Thagard advises us to use the opportunity of festive get-togethers to have real heart-to-hearts with family and friends: “The best thing people can do is to try to foster the relationships they have in ways that reach deeper levels of connection,” he says. Broach subjects — parenthood, relationships, life purpose, dreams, defining memories — that forge deeper bonds that make you feel seen, understood and known.



Give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:18)



“Express gratitude — through an email, a phone call, in person — to someone in your life you’re grateful for,” Lyubomirsky says. “Thinking about the things you take for granted, as opposed to what you want and are not getting,” she adds, can help build on your sense of meaning. To boot, a study came out earlier this year showing that gratitude predicts hope and happiness. 



Focus on something outside yourself (Hebrews 13:16)



Part of Charlie Brown’s trouble is that he’s stuck in an endless cycle of neurotic and self-loathing thoughts. “It’s morally required and more psychologically desirable when people stop thinking so much about themselves,” Thagard argues. Research published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin last year showed self-centeredness has a reciprocal relationship with loneliness — which means that learning how to get off the merry-go-round of self-obsession and see beyond yourself has healing potential. “I think a lot of life’s problems are due to too much self-focus or self-absorption,” Lyubomirsky says, “So anything you can do to take the focus off yourself will be beneficial.”



Find opportunities to help others (Deuteronomy 15:11)



One way to redirect your attention is to seek out opportunities to help others. “Practice acts of kindness,” Lyubomirsky suggests. For instance, “choose someone in your life this week and do something to make them happier.” Thagard says that research indicates people who serve others have a greater sense of meaning and purpose. Studies have demonstrated the mental health benefits of volunteering, so pick up some shifts at a soup kitchen or charity for children to feed your sense of meaning.



Place community above individuality (Philippians 2:3)



Sounds good to me
Thanks Doc! 😊

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I love you all.

Have a BLESSED DAY!!!

OPPORTUNITIES for HOPE

Monday, December 17, 2018

LEADING CAUSE OF LIFE

Have you thanked Him?

Have you praised Him?

Have you made it your priority to agree and cooperate with Him today?

Have you taken that deep breath and listened for what He has for you today?

1 Timothy 2:1 (The Message)

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.



While in Nashville last week with my amazing friends from West Virginia, DC, and Tennessee, we heard from author William Moyers.  I mentioned him in an earlier OFH.  One of the things he shared in his talk was a little snippet from Gary Gunderson.



Gunderson is the author of “Leading Causes of Life: Five Fundamentals to Change the Way You Live Your Life”



Gunderson is Senior Vice President for Health and Welfare Ministries for Methodist Healthcare and the director for the Interfaith Health Program at Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. He is a commissioned Deacon in the United Methodist Church.



And he identifies the 5 leading causes of life as:

Connection

Coherence

Agency

Blessing

Hope



Now if you are a frequent follower of the OFH you know I love that first one!  In fact, in my world, CONNECTION is KEY to RECOVERY! - A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT)



Gunderson describes the next one, coherence, as a zeal for learning, for expanding our faith.  That is a healthy habit for sure!!!



Agency is a pursuit of purpose; of finding a lane a way to serve.  This too is an important one in the role of recovery. While in Nashville with our friends from Project Return, we discussed the magnitude of purpose on a healthy return to society and an effective recovery.

He (GOD) creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. – Ephesians 2:10 (MSG)



The last two are “sort of” obvious.  We know that when we offer blessing, we get blessed! (1 Peter 3:9) and we know the importance of HOPE! 



In fact, I love the way Rick Warren tees up the criticality of HOPE in our lives when he says, “We could go 40 days without food, 8 days without water, but we can’t live one SINGLE day without HOPE!”



And Ben Courson remarked that “Hope is the glue that holds FAITH and LOVE together”.

I would agree.  And the LORD is MOST GENEROUS with HOPE that is for sure!!!

Your future is bright and filled with a living hope

    that will never fade away. – Proverbs 23:18 (TPT)



So, while we often are bludgeoned with news on “leading causes of death”, can I encourage you to seek out and embrace some leading causes of life today?



Get connected!  Embrace faith! Uncover and pursue your GOD-GIVEN purpose! Bless somebody! And cling to the boundless HOPE of GOD!





I love you all.

Have a BLESSED DAY!!!

OPPORTUNITIES for HOPE

Friday, December 14, 2018

DIFFERENCE MAKER


Have you thanked Him?

Have you praised Him?

Have you made it your priority to agree and cooperate with Him today?

Have you taken that deep breath and listened for what He has for you today?

1 Timothy 2:1 (The Message)

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.



Whirlwind!

Sorry I missed you yesterday.  Was one of those “Willie Nelson” days. “On the Road Again” - 😊



Clarksville to Indianapolis to Paulding Ohio to my bed finally at about 11ish was the itinerary. 

But what a BLESSED day!



My friends in Clarksville have an amazing and scalable counseling solution to share with ALL our RECOVERY partners!

My dear sister in Indy is seeing doors open for her on several levels; chaplaincy, expansion of her PAL footprint (https://palgroup.org/), not to mention alliances being formed with formidable health systems.

And my partners from Paulding?

GOD is up to something amazing there!  A new LIVING FREE work is a month away from launching. An AMAZING prevention plan called “Helping Kids Prosper” is being deployed.  And a READY coalition is on the horizon!



I am one blessed fella!  To be able to lead, guide and inspire folks to using their gifts, engaging their communities and the challenges is such an honor.



And as we were discussing the plans for Paulding’s plan called CITIZENS OF PAULDING FOR RECOVERY AND PREVENTION, I was so moved by the ENERGY of the 30 or so in attendance.  They WANT to engage! They WANT to become DIFFERENCE makers!  And I believe they have the FAITH to do it, FAITH that is ready to ACT; “JAMES FAITH”



My dear brothers and sisters, what good is it if someone claims to have faith but demonstrates no good works to prove it? How could this kind of faith save anyone? For example, if a brother or sister in the faith is poorly clothed and hungry and you leave them saying, “Good-bye. I hope you stay warm and have plenty to eat,” but you don’t provide them with a coat or even a cup of soup, what good is your faith? So, then faith that doesn’t involve action is phony. - James 2:14-17 (TPT)



I share these stories with you today to encourage you.  It is so easy to look at the challenges in our communities, things like suicide, addiction, trauma, trafficking, and disconnection and feel paralyzed.  But if we can EMBRACE our “JAMES FAITH” a faith that is READY to act, we can, and we will with GOD’S direction and GOD’s help begin to turn the tide on these social challenges and help turn our communities back to GOD and back to loving one another.



I believe it!

I see it and get to participate in it all the time!



So pray for these folks who are EXERCISING their faith; who are wading into the challenges with creativity, passion, and expectation! 



And pray for yourself today. 

Ask GOD for WAYS that your FAITH can be enhanced and vitalized with some ACTION! I promise you that when those two things come together, GOD will BLESS you and those you serve, and you TOO will become a DIFFERENCE MAKER!!!

never forget, no matter how overwhelming life's challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.” ― R. Buckminster Fuller





I love you all.

Have a BLESSED WEEKEND!!!

OPPORTUNITIES for HOPE