Lights, Camera…ACTION!

Shakespeare said “All the world is a stage and (we)… are all actors in it”. (As You Like It, if you care to check it out)

Have you ever thought about your life as a movie or play?

Are you the hero or villain?

What would be the title of your life movie?

Who would play you?

What message would you want your life to tell to others?

Think about a movie/play that has impacted you in such a way that you were changed and felt called to some action?

I have often wondered if we viewed our lives that way then would we act and live differently?

Along the same lines, think of all that goes into creating a play or movie:  the script, the costumes, the actors, the setting, make-up, lighting and so on. All of this just exists as back round to the real story and nothing happens until the director calls out…”Action!”.

Nothing happens until someone takes ACTION…

We are talking about charity this month and how charity is a two way street–giving and receiving. Charity is the Greek word agape (uh-gawp-ay) which is simply defined as active-love towards our fellow humans beings. It seeks to meet people where they are and offer hope in the form of something real or tangible–an action offered in charity.

I hope you have been encouraged by putting your cards in the mail (see previous post) if not don’t worry, the month isn’t over yet.

We started out, in January, with the idea of cultivating and crafting a more hope-full life. We have learned to seek those things that help us to be intentional on our journey to a more hope-full life.  This has all led us to here… the place of charity.

Charity is hope all grown up. Charity seeks to re-create hope in other people and situations.

Hope is love holding out its hands in the dark–George Iles

This is the power of hope and charity. The actions that we take are vital to our lives and the lives of those we touch.

The joy of giving and receiving…

Let’s start with the big picture and then bring the focus closer to home.

What’s bigger than the idea of universal laws & principles?

There is a universal law of Giving, that is, the more you give the more that comes your way. This “Generosity Principle” is the idea that in living a life of generosity we create a ‘flow’ of sorts where the value, quality, and influence of our lives is expanded. The Bible speaks of the principle of sowing and reaping but believing in the Bible isn’t a requirement for this to work. That’s the idea behind a law of nature or universal principle–it just works.

Give and it will be given to you–pressed down, shaken together and running out all over.–Jesus (Luke 6:38)

Cast your bread on the water and after many days it will come back to you.–King Solomon (Ecclesiastes 11:1)

Think of Ebenezer Scrooge, the ultimate hoarder, he held tightly to all that he had–namely his money– and he eventually learned that a life, or wealth, unshared is no life at all. (The Christmas Story by Charles Dickens–not just for Christmas)

So to bring this home to where we live, let me say this–being a generous giver and receiver is a part of the same principle. By not being generous, we rob and limit ourselves. By not being a gracious receiver, we rob and limit others. And the really cool thing is that both ends of the principle are not just about you–the you on either end.

So when the credits roll and the lights come up on your life how will people feel when they walk away?

I recently experienced a preview into the story of a friend’s life. (True story with names changed)

Katrina, my friend, had been questioning the theme of her life movie and feeling a little down. I was there when she met a long, lost friend, Rachel,  who then told Katrina that because of her (Katrina) she (Rachel) was alive today. Years ago my friend, Katrina, had picked up the phone to just ‘check-in’ on Rachel who was going through a difficult time. What Katrina didn’t know was that Rachel was taking steps to end her life with the final prayer that if just one person would call her on the phone she wouldn’t go through with it…Katrina was THAT friend. Rachel never said anything at the time but that phone call of charity, agape, horizontal love saved Rachel’s life. and the lives of her children.

How powerful and profound that something as simple as a phone call changed the course of an entire family.

Although, thankfully, I have never been at that extreme breaking point, I have had timely gifts and calls that have kept me going through rough times in my life: pancakes from a neighbor, a rocking chair for child #5, a card in the mail, a much-needed pack of diapers left by the front door, a timely invite from a friend to come and hang at her house (and bring ALL 5 of my kids), a phone call “just to talk”.

These are some of the credits that will roll at the end of their lives and be credited for blessing mine. In the spirit of these kindnesses, I have attempted to be the giver of similar kindnesses and can’t wait to see how they have played out. Sometimes I think it will be the ones that I am not aware of that will be the most powerful.

Small kindnesses are like drops of water in a pond-the effect far outweighs the effort.–Me

I remember a very low point in my life when I was alone, pregnant, nauseated 24/7, and  3,000 miles away from home. I had a neighbor that was lovingly, yet secretly, known as “Kooky” ______. We lived next door to each other and would occasionally, make dinner and craft jewellery together. One day she showed up at my door and said “Don’t be mad but I’m here to clean”. She burst through the door with her cleaning supplies and vacuum cleaner, “I know you don’t feel good and that’s understandable but the world always seems a little better when the floor is vacuumed”.

She and I weren’t close. She had some “issues” of her own but she came like an angel on a mission and my world grew much less dark that day. I eventually came home to the love and support that I needed but I have never forgotten her, and her unique, precious and “kooky” friendship. To this day I tear up at the memory and pray for her to be blessed because of her great kindness to a girl from West Virginia, who came and went from her life but on whose life she made a profound impact.

So when we speak of charity don’t discount the little that you feel you have to offer. If it’s in your heart or mind to give it or share it…just do it.

And don’t worry about the credits or the awards–each kindness has a reward of its own.

Heidi Mull, grateful for kindnesses given and received, learning to answer the call of “ACTION!”

Advertisements

Listen Up

Welcome to July–a month that kicks off with a symphony of sounds–fireworks, celebrations, parades and music. A perfect backdrop for our theme this month…hope through sound.

Theme: Sound/Noise

We are greatly influenced by what we listen to whether music, news or the conversation of those around us,

I have different playlists that I listen to depending on what I am doing. When I am cleaning or working out, I have an upbeat and energetic group of songs. My quiet time list is much different. There are days when I don’t turn on the news at all and there are people that I can take in small doses because of the negativity. I like the sound of the neighbor’s lawn mower in early summer. I like easy jazz, piano-driven music and the gritty simplicity of the acoustic guitar. I love the sound of the early birds. The sound of my kids laughing and talking together is a beautiful sound. People in church singing all together brings me joy and the chatter at an outdoor cafe is energizing.

How about you?

What sounds do you enjoy and what sounds influence you in a negative way?

We choose friends sometimes because ‘they speak my language’.

We avoid certain people because they are so negative that “they bring me down’.

Most couples have “our song”.

How about a song from your childhood, high school days or wedding? When you hear it does it make you feel good or bad?

Is there a sound that you love?

The sizzle of meat on a grill?

Kids in the pool?

a rumbling motorcycle?

songbirds in the tree?

a concert along the riverfront?

a friend’s laugh?

your favorite singer or band?

Do you avoid the news sometimes because it has a negative effect on you?

How about the voices in your head?

Sounds can be abrasive and offensive…f-bombs in the candy aisle, laughter after tragic news, children screaming at a romantic dinner.

Sounds can be uplifting…the wind rushing loudly through the big pines in our yard, thunder in the distance, ocean waves out of the window.

Some people love the sounds of the city; some the sounds of the country side. We gravitate toward what we like and what pleases us. Sound is a powerful influence on us and on our journey towards a more hope-full life. We will be exploring this in the upcoming posts but for now let’s start to listen to what we listen to and how it effects us.

Craft Activity or Visual Aid:

For those of you following along with us, our craft for this month is a windchime as a reminder to be aware of what sounds are around us that are hopeful and helpful and to take the time to listen.. .

It is fun to look online for different ideas. I love the random ones from stuff that we already have. Colored, textured and themed chimes are also great. Some focus on not just the sound but also the visual appeal.

Here’s an example of a misc item chime:

allkindsofstuffwindchime

I had to include the redneck chime (you could paint pop cans also).

The spindle is another great idea to recycle an old chair.

Tin cans great sound and great to do with kids.

The coffee can and CDs were colored with permanent markers.

redneckwindchime spindlewindchime tincanwindchimecoffeecdwindchime

And finally, this one is make with misc washers, craft paint, wooden dowel and some craftwire.

washerwindchime

For those who aren’t into crafting, there is a wide variety of wind-chimes to buy with a variety of sounds so take the time to find one that resonates with you.

We will unpack the influence of sound  on our journey of hope in the weeks to come.

Let’s get started by becoming aware of the sounds around us– the who, what and how of sounds and the influence it has on our days, decisions and development.

Heidi Mull, sounding off, learning to listen.

Lost in the Barrens…

Ahh! The quest for beauty– to obtain it, own it, bask in its presence, to capture it.

It compels us, motivates us and, outside of money, is one of the main driving forces of human activity.

So what does beauty have to do with hope?

Beauty has the power to transform. Beauty is as essential to our humanity as is air and water.

Every human has a inborn sense of beauty –from child to elder…from modern to ancient…from rich to poor.

Beauty is sought after, longed for and appreciated.

The problem is that the concept of beauty is elusive and to define what beauty is is impossible…unless beauty is defined simply as that which brings joy to the beholder.

Given that definition, I think the opposite of beauty is not ugliness but barrenness. Barrenness that occurs in our souls when we have lost the ability to appreciate even the smallest hint of beauty. Bitterness, a critical spirit, cynicism and jealousy are all the enemies of beauty.  The inability to appreciate beauty greatly handicaps our ability to grasp even the possibility of hope and we can become lost in the Barrens. The Barrens…where nothing can grow–not hope, not patience, not joy, not anything. Here we have given up. I have had times in my life–more than I want to admit–where I have spent minutes, hours, even days in the Barrens. Bereft of hope, joy, peace…& beauty until something would catch my eye and my heart–even in the smallest way–and I could begin to find my way out back to the land of the living where even the remotest possibility brought enough air for another breath. In the Barrens our hearts grow cold, our vision becomes dim, and hope is unheard of. Beauty is not only an antidote for the Barrens but a preventative.

Beauty whispers & hums “all is not lost”. It sings & shouts to us of a life that is more than just existing.

Hitler stole much of the fine art of Europe in his conquest for world power.

In the Medieval times, kings and popes fought wars for decades over control of the resources to create/own beauty.

In the garden, the enemy of our souls connived to mar the beauty of God’s creation almost beyond recognition.

Why? Because beauty has power. Beauty IS power.

Power to lift us up out of despair.

Power to transform the Barrens into a place of hope,

Power to remind us of what was lost and what will one day be restored.

So whether it is…

a beautiful face

lovely landscaping

inspiring artwork,

a nice lawn,

a shiny hotrod engine,

a Harley-Davidson,

noble horses,

a blushing bride,

a newborn baby,

a cuddly kitten,

red roses,

a joyous family reunion,

a perfectly penned poem,

a favorite song or just good music,

an inspiring scripture

or the sound of a long-distanced, loved one’s voice…

beauty has the power of transformation. Our journey towards a more HOPE-full life is not for the weak or faint-hearted and we need the power that beauty brings. Take some time today, this week, this month to tap into your power source and if you get lost in the Barrens, you can find your way out… beauty will lead the way.

Heidi Mull,  an occasional Barren dweller on a quest to keep beauty in focus and my feet on the path to a life of hope and purpose.

Rest is not a four-letter word…

      It’s the end of February and I hope you have had time to stop and smell…something good. We are 2 months into our year long journey of crafting hope and I am enjoying our time together and our conversations. Your comments and stories are encouraging and your pictures of your projects bring much joy into the process. Keep them coming and I will work on posting them to share. I am already looking forward to our next thoughts and crafts in March.  Remember just jump in where you are and join us however and whenever you can.  And now to the post:

One of my great enemies in my journey for a hope-full life is weariness. Tired, exhausted, and good old-fashioned tuckered out to name a few variations. Viewing life through the lens of weariness is like trying to buy new jeans after a huge meal. None of them fit right or look right and that 10 pounds you’d like to lose becomes 25.  Or trying to play the Super Bowl wearing slippers. Or figuring out your 5 year financial goals after the seemingly endless nighttime feedings of 2 week old baby.

The process of hope takes time, effort, and energy. It requires room to breath and grow. The effects of stress on our bodies have been scientifically linked to our physical and emotional well-being.  Just type “stress” into your search engine and see what pops up.

Today I find myself craving rest.  And by craving, I mean “a vehement or urgent desire”, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. When I am weary I find that everything is too much. Too big, too hard, too heavy. Life is push, push,  push …so I push back.

I force myself to slooow down.

Breathe deeply.

I resist the tyranny of the urgent.

Reclaim my domain.

I rule my time.

It doesn’t rule me.

I know that I can’t just stop life. Work awaits in all its various forms but I ask myself. How can I simplify? What truly must be done and what can wait for another day. And I purposefully plan to treat myself or indulge myself in some positive, healthy way.  For me it may be a quick, easy dinner, like pizza, instead of something that requires more time and effort so I can have time to soak in the tub or read a good book or listen to music with headphones on while I lounge on the couch. Or watch my favorite show on Netflix–maybe several episodes.  I shove the dirty laundry in a basket (or just step over it ) and set it by the laundry machine to await cleaning for another day.  At work, it’s the same:  what has to be done?  what can wait even one more day?  I shut off my phone. Let my family know my plans/needs and go for it. It’s okay. The earth will still spin, the powers-that-be will still be, the spouse and the kids will not suffer permanent damage. Mine have actually gotten to where they are glad I am taking care of myself. Weary Mom/wife can be weird.

I really do despise the fast-paced life that is thrust upon us. I LIKE having down time If you don’t like the word rest try this one “sabbath“.  It is an ancient Hebrew word meaning rest but encompasses so much more. It speaks to the body, soul and spirit. To cease from your labors and savor being alive. To take/make time to pause and smell the _____. (Coffee, roses, sachet, bubble bath, or Chinese take-out.)

Weariness saps us of our joy. Weariness brings its unwanted friends like despair and futility and, my least favorite, hopelessness.  Rest or sabbath is the antidote for weariness.   Invite a friend.  A sabbath is good to share.

 

When I am down and, oh, my soul, so weary;

When troubles come and my heart burdened be;

Then I am still and wait here in the silence,

Until you come and sit awhile with me.

-written by Brendan Graham (You Raise Me Up).

Heidi Mull,  Queen of the sabbath.