Finding Joy – In a cup of coffee

In the words of Pastor Rick Warren, “Contentment is not laziness, complacency, apathy, or fatalism. Contentment does not mean you are not making progress, or you do not have goals. It means you are happy with what you have right now.”

“It is better to have only a less with peace of mind, than being busy all the time with both hands, trying to catch the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6

If only

When I was younger climbing the rungs of my career and as a mother of young sons trying to catch my breath, I wish I had heard these words then and they become more powerful for me to heed now in my empty nest. Turning back time is impossible but living in the present can slow it down.

Which brings me to today, the biggest day of the year for retailers and shoppers – Black Friday. This isn’t a day I usually go out to the local shops and mall, however, my son is home from college and has the day off of work. He wants to go shopping. A chance to spend time with my son, you bet!

Joy in a cup of coffee

Around the world and particularly in the United States, there is much discontent. It is difficult to find much joy no matter where one turns although many people mouth these words across social media to make kindness great again (myself included). Yet even today for this Black Friday after waiting in a long drive-thru lane to purchase a decaf coffee for my son, the vehicle in front of us paid for our order. My son and I look at each other in amazement as the drive-thru server with the biggest smile and the brightest blue eyes said it had been happening all day. So of course, we paid kindness forward or should I say backward.

It was the best gift I bought all day.

It was worth every penny of the $11.31 for one 16 oz. cup of decaf coffee to see the joy in the faces of the drive-thru server and my son.

Caffeinated thoughts

I had enough coffee before we had set out on our shopping expedition, still the Starbucks pay-it behind experience got me thinking in over-drive.

Why does it take a holiday for us to be kind to one another?

Is it reminder to ourselves that kindness can still bring joy to a stranger? That the gift of giving without any expectations is still possible, still worthy?

How can we learn to be content with acts of kindness rather than simply buying a gift out of obligation or because it is the latest, greatest, and most likely the most expensive material gift on the shelves today and we must have it?

How can we, as a nation learn to be content with what we have rather than be so concerned with those seeking fairness in asylum, equality, and opportunity to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Granted, we have our own set of problems with homelessness, gun and domestic violence, and under-insured people, but do we even bother helping our own as we check-out the latest X-Box or designer sneakers?

How do we accept others different than ourselves who are also American-born citizens as well as those born elsewhere?

How can we be kind to one another every day?

Paying kindness forward

Citizens of the United States have always rallied to help one another in crisis, whether here at home or abroad. Yet currently there are many Americans who are taking a nationalist approach to the global economy and national security to name just two topics. I contend it is easier to keep what made this country great – our ingenuity, our integrity, and yes, our kindness than to discard those qualities for own self-righteousness.

I am not what I own, whether it is in the material things I buy on Black Friday or what I am given because by the grace of God I live in the United States. Dreams and ambitions do not just reside in these things, but in what I do, in what I think, and where I live. They reside in each one of us who may look, believe, speak differently than I do or live beyond borders.

I pray that I can be content with what I have and allow my content to make progress toward healing the world with the goal of making it a better place for everyone. Not just in the holiday season but all  year long.

Find joy in making the world a better place

Heal the World lyrics by Michael Jackson

Heal the World Video

May we all find joy

Why not buy someone a cup of coffee today and discuss how kindness can be paid forward to heal the world? Then act upon it together. Kindness starts with you and me. It starts with acceptance and the desire to understand each other and not just in the drive-thru lane.

Peace,

The Blogging Owl

 

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved – The Blogging Owl – SL Prielipp-Falzone

Lent – In My Opinion, My Tattoo

Today, April 1, 2018, is Easter.

As I have posted here a few times on the topic of Lent – In My Opinion, I have wondered in writing how “fasting” from expressing my opinion matters.

Over the last 40 days I have been reading and listening to many other’s opinions from all ages and generations on topics that ran the gamut of existence here on earth without expressing my own opinion. (I wouldn’t admit to being 100% silent but, in my opinion, I think I was darn close to it). And irrespective of age or generation, the opinions I read or listened to ranged from the cruel and insensitive to an articulate wise point of view. As I mentioned in my last post on Lent – In My Opinion, Part 3, all opinions do matter, but will they matter? And I came to the realization that each one’s opinions, whether I was in an agreement or not will matter just as my opinion will matter.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

For my opinion to matter I reason, I must reflect the values of what I believe are important in how I live, how I work, how I interact with others whoever they may be. My values and my opinions determine my priorities and will ultimately determine how my life will matter. It will also determine even more than just here on earth.

In my first post, Lent – In My Opinion, my husband, Vinny Sal said I should not choose fasting from what I call my coarse language, and in his words, my ‘potty’ mouth because I would fail the next day just like diet resolutions on the January 1st. Yet in fasting from expressing my opinions I have also reflected on the words I choose to express my opinion. Can another word be used that may be more effective? Is there another word aligns better with my values? Is there another word that will make my opinion matter?

How will I make my opinions matter?

My values are rooted in the Word of God. I read the Bible or a Christian devotion almost every day and I write daily in a prayer journal. Yet, as a sinner I have failed many times expressing my values in my opinions as God would like me to reflect them. My words must be His words.

The art of self-expression

When my sons were in high school, they would often say they wanted a tattoo. A few of their friends were getting tattoos, why couldn’t they? My answer was always, “Your body is on loan from God. He wouldn’t like you to tattoo his masterpiece.” I knew then that when they reached adulthood they wouldn’t need my permission or approval. I just hoped they would think clearly about what tattoo and where they would tattoo their body.

Since that time I have become fascinated by why people get tattoos and how they choose what to tattoo on their bodies. After all, it will be there forever unless of course they rue their decision and go through through the painful process of medical laser surgery to remove them.

While I am sure some tattoos were mindlessly ill-conceived or gotten under inebriated circumstances and they were too ashamed to admit it, the majority chose their tattoo because it reflected their values, some event, a personally held conviction or message.

My tattoo – Luther’s Rose

My youngest son now has three tattoos in which he has shared the meaning and the reason behind each one. Friends and co-workers have tattoos. Vinny Sal vows he will never get a tattoo. And after my Lenten fasting I have found that I  now want a very special tattoo. A tattoo that reflects to me in the mirror every day a message of what my values are based upon. Although it is sad to think I need a reminder at times, I have chosen Luther’s rose for my tattoo.

(From: Letter from Martin Luther to Lazarus Spengler, July 8, 1530)

“First, there is a black cross in a heart that remains its natural color. This is to remind me that it is faith in the Crucified One that saves us. Anyone who believes from the heart will be justified (Romans 10:10). It is a black cross, which mortifies and causes pain, but it leaves the heart its natural color. It doesn’t destroy nature, that is to say, it does not kill us, but keeps us alive, for the just shall live by faith in the Crucified One (Romans 1:17).

Luther's Rose - original

The heart should stand in the middle of a white rose. This is to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace—it puts the believer into a white, joyous rose. Faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives (John 14:27). This is why the rose must be white, not red. White is the color of the spirits and angels (cf. Matthew 28:3; John 20:12).

This rose should stand in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that a joyful spirit and faith is a beginning of heavenly, future joy, which begins now, but is grasped in hope, not yet fully revealed.

Around the field of blue is a golden ring to symbolize that blessedness in heaven lasts forever and has no end. Heavenly blessedness is exquisite, beyond all joy and better than any possessions, just as gold is the most valuable and precious metal.”

A special placement

My Luther’s rose tattoo will be etched above my heart near my left shoulder so as I look  in the mirror each day, it will remind me of the excruciating lashes etched on Jesus’ body for each and every one of my sins. It will remind me that my words and actions must not cause pain, but gives joy, comfort and peace. It will remind me that a joyful spirit and faith grasped in hope surrounded by a blessedness is better than any possession here on earth.

Unlike my gold cross necklace that I can put on and remove, my tattoo will remain as a reflection to all that my opinions do and will matter when I keep them rooted in a believing heart justified by faith in Jesus Christ.

Peace,

IMG_0603

The Blogging Owl

 

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved – The Blogging Owl – SL Prielipp-Falzone

Lent – In My Opinion, Part 3

In my posts on Lent – In My Opinion, I wondered if my opinion mattered. A friend responded that my opinion DOES matter because in her words, and I am paraphrasing, “You have always given me good counsel.” I am flattered that she believes I have given her good advice, and she indeed is a wonderful reciprocating friend.

Still I pondered, “Does my opinion matter?”

All anyone need do is read social media posts, listen to television talk shows or news programs to know that most people have an opinion… STRONG opinions on any given topic and there are many controversial topics to choose from these days.

But does each of our individual opinions matter or only collectively… or perhaps not at all?

I only have to Google “Parkland” to read about the many opinions on school shootings, gun violence in America, gun control, the NRA, and even whether school kids have the right to speak out, rally and give voice to what adults are doing to protect them.

Parkland Shooting Survivor Calls Out Lawmakers in Chilling the NRA

How the Survivors of Parkland Began the Never Again Movement

A republican who called Parkland teen, a ‘skinhead lesbian’ drops out of Maine House race

Parkland Shooting Surveillance Video Shows Deputy Remained Outside

PRO-GUN RUSSIAN BOTS FLOOD TWITTER AFTER PARKLAND SHOOTING

As I read the numerous articles, listen to the television pundits debating the tragedy with politicians and mental health experts, and read the public’s comments on social media threads, yes, I do believe each of our opinions matter.

The better question is, “Will my opinion matter?”

I would like to believe that shushing my opinion these last 20 days or so has led me to be less vocal in my coarse language (you still are right Vinny Sal, giving up the “F” word wouldn’t have lasted past a day). Yet abstaining from my voicing my opinion has caused me to become more introspective.

Am I abiding by my own mantra, “Resist Reaction Let Reason Rule?”

Many times, when I read a tweet or someone’s post on a social media thread, I just want to quickly respond in disagreement because what the person tweeted or posted was in my opinion just plain stupid, or ‘for the love of scotch’ how can you be so blind to what seems so obvious, so on and so forth.

Now, I ask myself questions. Do I really believe, think, feel that way? How does that opinion reflect on me? How does that opinion reflect on the issue at hand? Does it further the cause? Does it just get lost in the noise or will it collectively matter?

It is not a win or lose matter

My opinion will matter when I:

  • cast my vote in the election booth after careful study of the candidates.
  • seek to be understood rather than just to be heard.
  • my attitude about someone’s opinion is not to slam it but to try to understand it. Ask the open-ended questions – who, what, where, how and why does the person have this opinion.
  • help others to thrive.

Because when it comes right down to it, my personal initiative of being a Watering Can is is not about me. It is about helping others thrive. I can’t do that unless there is a ‘will’ to have opinions matter for the collective good.

Of course! My opinion matters and the goal is to have it matter where love and security in mind, body and spirit win out.

Peace,

The Blogging Owl

Understanding

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved – The Blogging Owl – SL Prielipp-Falzone