another 72 hours

unshackled-2So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

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….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

Well, how was your weekend?  Did you get all those chores accomplished?  Maybe an afternoon family BBQ by the pool?  Did you maintain sober-living for the past 72 hours?  Not just alcohol free, but truly sobriety-appreciating behavior?

If today finds you sober and serene, give yourself and your Higher Power a hand.  If not, tomorrow is another day to start your adventure through sobriety.sober emoji

Kaepernick’s MOUNTAIN

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

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What’s the mountain you are willing to defend with life, limb and honor?  How about me?  I’ve been at the base of numerous mountains, defended only a few.  With each one, hopefully wisdom played a role, but more importantly I would like to cite courage as the determining factor in my choices.

I am not a sports participant, never have been.  Doesn’t mean I cannot follow football or baseball enthusiastically or knowledgeably.  Especially enjoyable are the personalities who have made sports their life-time endeavors and discovered lucrative careers playing a game for millions upon millions of dollars.

Patrick Mahomes just signed a contract with the KC Chiefs for a 10 year period for 450 million dollars.  Amazing!!  Do I begrudge him and the money?  Absolutely not.  He has discovered his niche in life and has learned early how to capitalize.  If corporate America (yes, professional football is just another corporate conglomerate) is willing to belly up to the table with that much moolah, then more power to Patrick.

However, I do not idolize money.  The less I have, the more content and peaceful I feel.  What impresses me is not the money these guys earn, but  the mountains they are willing to defend for reasons of social justice and moral compass.  Colin Kaepernick is one such man.

Exiled from professional football in 2016 for taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality, Kaepernick was the focus of public scorn from a broad spectrum of political and professional celebrities for his “unpatriotic” behavior.  Most notably was the involvement of the WH under the tweeting thumb of a well-documented draft-dodger during the Vietnam era.

Colin Kaepernick has signed a deal with the Walt Disney Company to be featured in a documentary series produced by ESPN Films ‘telling scripted and unscripted stories that explore race, social justice and the quest for equality.’  

His deal will extend across all Disney platforms including Walt Disney Television, ESPN, Hulu, Pixar and The Undefeated.  “I am excited to announce the historic partnership with Disney across all platforms to elevate Black and Brown directors, creators, storytellers, and producers, and to inspire the youth with compelling and authentic perspectives,”  Kaepernick said in a statement.

The moral of this story – carefully choose your mountain to defend and then courageously do it never looking back.  Great men will attack, small men will tweet, but those who matter will support your journey.

Disney – Kaepernick sign deal

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if not us, then who?

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

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Through every season of my life, in retrospect, I see the major players of the Jesus story in myself.  I have been the prodigal son, the denying Peter, the wayward woman at the well, the mocking crowd at the cross, and much too frequently the doubting Thomas.

Today, Thomas is asking, “If you are real, if you are who you claim to be, why is the world such a screwed up mess?  Can’t you do something?”  God answers –

“I did.  I created you!”

IF NOT US, THEN WHO?

poverty or simplicity ?

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

LIVE FREE OR DIE

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It is not surprising that many of my daily inspirational readings focus on Matthew  11:29 –

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

For my generation, these are probably the most difficult times Americans have ever experienced.  Our nation has been cut in two by opposing political forces and we are struggling with an unfathomed health crisis.

We have been bamboozled by a capitalistic economy which places unmerited value on materialism, property and assets leaving the majority of us in the lower echelon of a prosperous society.  We are seen not as symbols of simplicity, but as statistics of poverty.  We have been victimized by a social culture which tells Americans that we are better than the rest of the world.  We have been deceived about the earth’s resources – that there is not enough for all mankind; therefore, we should horde and accumulate.  We are continually bombarded with our deficiencies rather than our blessings.  The cup is always half empty rather than half full.  But, Matthew 11:29 says that we don’t have to carry those burdens.

The Gospels are often called ‘the Good News’.  Contemporary theologians tend to emphasize the salvific promise of this ‘Good News’ as the salient message.  However, the ancients who wrote the scriptures in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were also carrying a message to the disenfranchised, the poor, the oppressed, the underprivileged, the down-trodden not so much about eternity in heaven but about joyous survival on earth.

This message is one that proclaims a freedom from the problems and cares of a materialistic world.  That freedom happens when priorities change.  Today’s America is just a blip on history’s radar screen.  Yes, it is important and we need to pay attention, but it is not important enough to throw our lives into continual depression, fear and defeat.

What can I change about today, what can I not change about today?  Pray about it,  surrender it and then get on with life.  Let Jesus handle it.  His yoke is easy and his burden is light.  In Psalms we are told to “be still and know God.”  The Jewish tradition renders this as “cease striving and know God.”  The wisdom of Alcoholics Anonymous says, “let go and let God.”

I will trust in those who have “been there and done that.” smiley face 2

 

made in the image

It doesn’t say white or black, short or tall, handsome or rugged, sailor or land-lubber, farmer or hunter.  It doesn’t say intelligent or obtuse, mechanical or artistic, straight or cropped-larry-rebel.pnggay, musical or tone-deaf.  Verse 27 of Genesis 1 says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

That’s who we are whether we believe we have descended from hairy jungle dwellers or from a colony of extraterrestrial voyagers or whether we emerged from God’s test tubes fully human six or seven thousand years ago.  The wisdom of the early sages is saying that we are all alike, made from the same stuff.  The mystery of this image covers all humanity.

Okay, I can hear you saying, “Larry, the verse is not talking about physical appearance.”

You are probably right.  Then what is God’s image?  Maybe love?  Maybe compassion?  Maybe faithfulness?  How about hope and righteousness?  And don’t forget joy.  That is who we are, whom we were designed to be, so why would we choose to live otherwise? God’s DNA is the stuff from which we were made.  We are not ignorance, intolerance, hatred, weakness and fear.  We were not made unimportant and inconsequential.

That shared DNA makes us brothers and sisters, doesn’t it?  I may not know my Asian brother in China, but we are related.  My sister in Iran may not follow the same political philosophy which I do, but we are related.  The names given to the God whom we worship may be vastly different, but we are brothers and sisters in the universal oneness.  Do you see the common thread developing here?  As much as you or I desire to be different or distinguished, more handsome of prettier, smarter than all others, we are one humanity born into the image of the One, the original creator.

Our survival as a species is not God-dependent.  God did the birthing, but it is our choice to live in harmony with others and with all of Creation.  There have been messengers to lead and guide on this journey, to redirect as necessary, but in the end, living or not living in solidarity will determine the chances of our survival.

My skin color does not make me more worthy.  Your intelligence does not make you more like God.  Our financial success on earth will mean nothing on heaven’s society page.  Our personalities, our physical appearances, our possessions, our bodies will stay behind when we die.

“All go to the same place; all come from dust and to dust all return.”  ECCLESIASTICS 3:20

The author of the Jesus story has tried to tell us that this life is birth, death and then resurrection – what is so difficult about that?  The most significant part of us will return to the energy pool in preparation to become part of another human’s God energy.  The cycle continues forever.

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Just another day?

Really?  Do I remember where I was last night, whom I was with, what I did?  Do I know where I parked my truck?  Am I reeking of stale cigarettes and whiskey?  Must I extend apologies (again) to my friends and family?

NO!  Today is not just another day.  Today is a spectacular day in the sobriety journey.  It is a day to rejoice and be grateful.

You and I are sober today – get up, get motivated and let’s give ourselves and our HPsober emoji a hand.

this too shall pass

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

I was brought up in a broad-minded community of church people.  The Lutheranism of my church family was a faith of tolerance and compassion for fellow mankind.  We had a39 few quirks, but most of them could be dismissed with a smile and a touch of humor.  We learned not to take ourselves too seriously.

Subsequent addictions severely tested that innocent faith leaving a young man rudderless and questioning.  The questioning was probably a good thing; however, being rudderless was not.  Not until completely shattered and disillusioned did I reach out from my alcoholic depths to the foundations of my youthful convictions where goodness and mercy still dwelled.  There is where a physical, emotional, and spiritual road to recovery began.

That recovery was a long, arduous journey filled with heartbreak and joy.  Today, having been reconciled with who I was and what I did in the grasp of addictions, I hold on to elements of the faith walk that nourished and encouraged me as a young teen-aged boy.  The 23rd Psalm was a favorite passage which has comforted and stayed with me.

“…yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…”

When my world rocked with fear, when my mind went haywire with depression, when staying sober another day seemed impossible, I repeated Psalm 23 because it ends with these words:

“…surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

In that valley which I sometimes walk even today, the path can be tortuous and difficult walled by mountain peaks of disillusion, pain and suffering.  But, there is always a gap in the high walls just ahead.  There is always a beautiful sunrise over the far mountain peak.  Today I know I will not be in this valley forever.  This too shall pass.  My challenge is to learn the intended lessons from the current sadness or despair and hold true to the person the Creator intended me to be.  My heart can then rejoice and sing….“surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

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I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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