Tag Archives: giving

The Year to Engage

February 28, 2014

Each year, my bestie Sherri (a.k.a. S.M. Hutchins) spends an intense amount of pondering and brainstorming in December to figure out her word for the year to come. Read what she chose this year—it’s bold and may inspire you.

In true sisterhood, I also get roped into (kidding) a lot of pondering and brainstorming. In fact, I have happily “played along” the last few years and selected a word of my own. 2012 was (wait for it) hope, hence the unveiling of “The World Needs Hope” in print and this blog. If you have been part of this journey since the beginning, you know that hope is also my life word.

In 2013, I chose transform. And I lived up to it in a big way, transforming my living situation by selling my home of seven years, dispersing virtually all of my worldly possessions, venturing to several countries abroad and truly owning my space as a freelance writer. I manifested amazing things in my life, my consciousness and my social circles.

This year, I could have posted my word and my intentions in January. However, that was a time of reflection related to my father, as you likely know. So, I “kicked the tires” on my word through February and can emerge on the other side totally committed to it. Drum roll . . . my word for 2014 is engage.

This is the year to engage. I want to do so in at least the following ways:

  • Engage in optimal physical conditioning, so that my body reflects my strong spirit
  • Engage in mindful nutrition that honors my being, especially with sensitivities in mind
  • Engage in closer friendships in an intimate circle, making time for meaningful connection
  • Engage in further developing my empathy and intuition, which serve me and others well
  • Engage in greater service to my fellow human beings, from church to grief to mentoring
  • Engage in opening fully and freely to the possibility of love, and the reality of a true partner
  • Engage in new adventures locally, nationally and globally, focusing on experiential presence
  • Engage in more consistent family time, especially with my adorable niece and nephews
  • Engage in writing that inspires, challenges and guides me and you to higher wisdom
  • Engage in giving spontaneously without expectation, so that I may spark others by example

Of course, I also intend to engage in quality ways with my clients, engage in enhancing money management skills and, most importantly, engage in noticing life in more detail (see photo below taken outside one of my favorite healthy restaurants . . . I paused and saw so much vibrance, clarity and balance that it made me smile). The key is to pick a word that you can truly embrace, one that you can use to gauge progress and push you to break boundaries.

So, what word will you choose? I would love to know and “engage” with you in discussion.

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10 Posts for 10 Years: #4

January 25, 2014

What is a legacy? Some might say money, property or customs handed down. I prefer to think of legacy as the indelible mark an influential person makes on their family, their friends, their community and their world. So, here is my father’s legacy, may it be fuel for hope for generations to come:

  • Giving with selfless abandon. Whether it was help with auto repairs, a few extra bucks, sound advice or a willing hand, my father was a profound giver. He often gave to, what some might call, a fault. However, it is this example of giving that showed me how richly the spirit receives by looking beyond itself to the needs of others. I am still in awe.
  • A quirky and playful sense of humor. Always having a joke, a witty reply or a funny story at the ready, my dad could certainly amuse anyone who walked through his office door. I have seen the transformation from grumble to giggle of many of his customers over the years, several returning to the seat across his desk purely for the joy of his company. And, as close friends know, being awarded a funny nickname by Big Mike was like gold—it meant you achieved “in” status . . . although it also came with heaps of extra sarcasm.
  • Family first and always. The eldest of his siblings and a man of the Word, he put an immense value on family. I recall many instances of helping family, loving family unconditionally and guiding family through tough obstacles. I know how much his folks meant to him and am proud to keep that tradition going strong.
  • A work ethic that rivals Atlas. It was only as I grew up that I truly understood how much of the world he carried on his shoulders. Still, dawn to sunset (or later), he worked diligently to provide for his family, keep his commitments to customers and show us that work is only a bother if you don’t bother to put your all into it. Not a perfectionist but certainly a details man, I marveled at his thorough nature and integrity.
  • A big kid at heart. My dear mom has been in the front row for many of my dad’s goofy voices, whimsical adventures and silly games. He loved to laugh and felt it his mission to make others do the same. Belly laughs, guffaws, chuckles and mischievous snickers (one of my favorites) all echoed from the deep lungs of this big kid. He enlightened us and lightened our days.

So, as you consider the legacy you wish to maintain for your loved ones or the one you intend to build within your life’s journey, know that the impact is not always monetary or material . . . the most valuable legacy is time, love and the ability to hope.

‘Twas the Hope Before Christmas

December 23, 2013

‘Twas the hope before Christmas
When across the world
One tiny child was stirring
Oh, how her heart swirled.

Her mom asleep on the floor
By the fire so small
In hopes that a company
With some job would call.

The little girl was nestled
Next to her dear mom
Counting cracks in the ceiling
Trying to stay calm.

Clutching the tattered blanket
A single tear fell
As she heard something outside
What, she couldn’t tell.

The girl prayed with all her might
But the clatter grew
Her mother woke with a start
It was dark, she knew.

She crept to the small window
And saw such a flash
That made her heart skip a beat
‘Twas too late to dash.

Knowing they were trespassing
She feared for them both
The thought of being apart
She did deeply loathe.

When what to her frightened eyes
Should appear but bags
Filled with food and fresh linen
Their names on the tags!

Held by the kind bearded man
From the church mission
She recalled his rosy face
‘Twas Nick and his son.

The little girl grinned widely
Her mom relieved now
It was not fear at her door
Grace found them, somehow.

Nick lit candles and gave hugs
His belly jiggled
Shadows danced in the lit room
And the girl giggled.

Now have light
Now have faith
Now have food
Now have peace.

On past tears
On past hurt
On past fears
Hope is here.

“I bring you good news,” Nick said
“For just down the street
Thursday a job awaits you
They’re eager to meet.”

The woman wept tears of joy
Her daughter clung tight
Her quiet prayer was granted
This Christmas Eve night.

Remember, hold on to hope
Help those who have less
Give freely from your spirit
That’s true happiness.

Merry Christmas from my heart
Hopeful tidings to you all!

Cause I Said, So . . .

December 12, 2013

Ok, I would bet dollars to donuts (Krispy Kreme is my preference) that you remember one of your folks saying, “Because I said so.” If you are a parent, the fateful day that you say the same thing to your offspring has already come or, most likely, will creep into conversation someday. It’s ok. It happens. Of course, you know me, I have a little twist to make it better . . .

What if we leverage the spirit of the season and a little linguistic wizardry? Instead of “because” we can use “cause” and flip the meaning. It’s a three-part plan:

  1. Cause (a purpose, driving force or charitable endeavor)
  2. Said (as in tell people about it, with passion)
  3. So (implying the expectation of action)

So, dear friends, I encourage you to lift yourself and lift up others. Here are just a few precious causes that found their way to my line of sight. Each reminds me of the importance of amazing acts, finding fulfillment and the gift of grace:

  • Reece’s Rainbow – Adoption grant foundation for orphans with special needs (I dare you to read their stories and discover their tremendous gifts)
  • Compassion International – Releasing children from poverty (referred by Ann Voskamp, whom I truly love and admire)
  • Global Giving – The perfect way to find a cause, donate or inspire giving in others (there is still time to send gift cards to friends and family)

Reece's Rainbow Christmas Tree

Pick special causes or be open to them picking you. Why? Most importantly, giving is the best way to gain a sense of purpose and interpersonal connection (wards off depression, assuages loneliness, battles boredom, reinforces faith and eases grief). Also, haha, because I said so!

Dear December

December 1, 2013

Sunrise Snow

As you make your way onto the scene, I have a few small requests.

Please let hope shine in every light, twinkle from every tree and sparkle in the eyes of every child. Let it be a light of heavenly glory and deepest gratitude. Let it be the hope that glows from each heart and inspires playful celebration.

Please watch over the grieving, the lonely and the hurting. Let the depressed discover God’s grace and feel the support of the universe. Let it be a hope that heals, a hope that comforts and a hope that transforms pain into strength.

Please safeguard the unwell, the addicted and the homeless. Let the vices and crutches fall away against the resilience of hope. Let each precious soul be protected and cherished as the invaluable being that it is. Let their families be held in hopeful prayer.

Please deliver hope to the hungry, the orphaned and the jobless. Let them be able to hope for more than survival and the essential love that we all crave. Let them find nourishment, safe shelter and the light of a hopeful hearth to warm them into the new year.

December, the icy chill of winter need not fill our hearts. Snowflakes, like people, are unique and sometimes fall . . . may we all focus on the blessings around us, the beautiful journey and the hopeful knowledge that we are united in a global community of infinite love.

As we close 2013, gently remind us that giving without expectation is the greatest exercise of hope and that loving without exception is the greatest testimony to joy.

God bless one and all,

Sara