My Monday Morning Cup: Life is Better When You Laugh

Good news doesn’t get as much attention as bad. We’re more apt to gawk at a car wreck than notice the planes successfully navigating the blue skies above. People doing bad things dominate the headlines, burying the good works of many. Good news is thrown in like a bonus, as if to say “Hey look, life ain’t all bad.”  Even then, it’s usually a story about someone doing something good amid an otherwise tough situation.

The old saying “Misery loves company” remains alive and well in our world today, despite our protestations of love and equality for all mankind. I get it. Bad things happen to good people. Living ain’t for sugar cookies.

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Back in the late 1970s, humorist Erma Bombeck wrote a bestseller entitled “If Life is a Bowl of Cherries What Am I Doing in the Pits?”  The book is a collection of humorous anecdotes about family life back in those days. People reading Bombeck’s tales were often caught laughing out loud, even in public.

My late niece, Natalie, used to say “Life is better when you laugh.” She was right.

It’s far too easy to get mired in the murky swamps of darkness and lose sight of the many points of light. We enjoy the freedom to choose where we focus our eyes. We can stare at the gloom and doom around us, crying “Woe is me!” or we can choose to look at the thousand lights of love and laughter surrounding us.

It’s Monday. Which will you choose?

I encourage you to run toward the light, remembering to laugh along the way.

Blessings.

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In Light of Our Inexplicable Heartache

My heart aches for the people of Parkland, Florida as I am sure many of yours do also. I can not begin to fathom the pain the children, parents, teachers, and all involved are enduring. This is suffering of excruciating magnitude.

Words are insufficient in explaining the inexplicable. Debating the politics that come from this without moving forward with tangible solutions only adds to the hurt we feel. It exasperates the frustration that stems from incidents like this that we all agree happen way too often. Truthfully, once was too many. Unfortunately, once happened long ago.

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Personally, I don’t have all the answers. I doubt I have any. We can’t cure evil. You can’t solve what goes on in the mind of a maniac or develop a test that helps us identify who in their right mind would unleash something this horrific on their community. People in their right mind don’t do this. Even if we know what triggers this type of action, it will be an unsatisfying knowledge. Knowing why won’t really matter. It won’t bring back the lives the world has lost.

While I’ve heard that prayer has been proven ineffective, I personally know that nothing could be further from the truth. Prayer does work. It opens the door to healing and comfort in egregious times of trouble. Prayer starts a conversation with the God of the universe, allowing us to cry out to Him in our anguish. And prayer works in reality too. I have witnessed prayer at work, changing lives, healing hurts, and even inexplicably curing disease. No, prayer doesn’t always yield me the answer I want. Sometimes, when I pray, I get no answer. Experience has taught me that receiving a no or having my prayer be met with silence actually works out for my good. If God had granted me everything I’d every asked for, I’d be more of a mess than I already am. Prayer is anything but ineffective. It is an action. It does make a difference.

Prayer Works

I recently heard a parent boast that he teaches his children that religion doesn’t matter. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. What you believe about God is really the most important thing about you. It informs how you live. Or at least it should. It guides you in the decisions you make. Or I hope that it would. What you believe or don’t believe matters greatly. Sure, we shouldn’t allow someone’s beliefs to impact how we view them or treat them. At least that’s what my understanding of Scripture teaches. I am to be loving and kind towards others, not because of who they are or who I am, but because of who God is.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

We seem to be caught up in somewhat of a chicken and egg argument. Is it the mental illness that is the problem or the access and availability to guns? Honestly, a rock in the hands of a mentally unstable person is a dangerous tool. What leads a person who feels unloved and feels isolated to do this? I don’t know. It seems unreasonable to expect that anyone can reason with an unstable person. Truthfully, I quit caring about why they do it once they pull the trigger. Yet, how I wish that someone could have done something to prevent this tragedy striking the community of Parkland, Florida.

I have heard it said that it seems like there is more of this atrocity than there used to be. Is there more evil in our world today than there was in past years or long-forgotten ages? While I would like to think that is the case, I’m not sure it is. I would like to think it is because in a crazy, delusional sort of way it might help me make sense of the madness seemingly occurring all around us at a rate of every other day or weekly, depending on whose statistics you want to believe. I’m not sure it is, because even the Bible depicts stories of horrific violence and sheer evil. I doubt the people of Sodom and Gomorrah would let go of their crown of vileness easily.

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We must do what we can to not let evil win, knowing that ultimately, God has already won the victory for us all through the atoning sacrifice of His son, Jesus. We have to cling tightly to the promises God has given us. He is faithful. He has not forgotten us. He has not forsaken us. His mercies continue to be new with every morning.

While this post of mine may not make you feel better or provide you with the answer your heart desperately desires, know at the moment it is the best response I can muster. Forgive my inadequacy. Excuse my inability. Hear my heart. Like yours, it aches. 

In the aftermath of another tragic situation, we can do everything we need to do to learn from it so that we can do whatever we need to do to prevent it from ever happening again. The answer won’t come overnight. Individually,  we can remain watchful and vigilant, saying something when we see something, doing something when our gut gives us every indication something needs to be done. Hindsight is always 20/20. Let us learn from yesterday, so that we can make a difference tomorrow. It’s time for a change.

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Be the Change You Want to See

Monday morning signals the start of another work week. With it comes the opportunity to invest in others by building relationship, lending an ear, and stretching out a helping hand. The difference we would like to see in our world flows from us out into the world we inhabit. Change rests with us.

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31 (ESV)

Change is a constant season fueling our lives. Nothing rarely remains the same. In an ever-changing world, we may be intimidated faced by an uncertain future. This is, in part, what makes life an unceasing adventure. None of us are promised tomorrow. We certainly aren’t given any reassurance that next week will be anything like last week.

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Last week, many of us lost a good friend who shined kindness and acceptance into our lives. He modeled the Golden Rule-treat others like you would want them to be treated. He is remembered as a kind, generous, jovial, and loyal friend. The type of person that’s hard to come by these days.He genuinely cared for people and looked out for his friends, keeping them out of harm’s way.  His presence in each of our lives will be missed. Many of us will try to remember the lessons he taught us. No doubt, he is gone way too soon.

What impact will you make in the lives of those you encounter this week?

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

If you’re a believer, like me, and a Christ-follower, will people be able to see Jesus reflected in you? If you’re the only Bible anyone reads this week, will people be drawn closer to God through how you live and respond to the world you live, work, and play in?

While change is a constant fire burning, God is steadfast and unchanging. You can depend on Him. He won’t let you down. Life may disappoint you. The Lord will see you through those challenges and difficulties, if you’ll let Him.

Without faith, there is no hope. Without hope, there can be no love. And life is meant to be rich in love, fueled by an abundance of hope and steadfast faith.

Go be the difference you want to see in the world. You can. I believe in you.

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