Monthly Archives: May 2013

Path to Peace – Dress for “Success” – Part Two

In yesterday’s discussion about one of the paths to peace we suggested a practical way to prepare yourself to pursue peace throughout the day is to visualize “putting on” the character you want to be known for, the character that nurtures peace in your life and those whose lives you touch.

The Bible says that those who believe that Jesus is indeed the Son of God and are committed to being fully devoted followers should have a certain sense of not being ‘at home’ here on earth. That is, we enjoy the blessings of this present time on earth. But we have to make a decision about where our real citizenship remains. If you are interested in a practical life application assessment of this, you might reflect on tough questions like:

  • Am I so comfortable in my current situation that I can’t bear the thought of moving somewhere else?
  • Could I be just as content living in a house half the cost of mine?
  • Do I enjoy spending time with my friends so much that I really don’t have time or much interest to share with other people?
  • How many non-Christian friends do I have?
  • Would I rather spend time learning about my favorite sports team than reading God’s Word?
  • Does the thought of spending an hour in prayer sound attractive, boring, or frightening?
  • What is the most important thing I have learned in life, and how am I applying this in my daily life?

As you put on each article of clothes today you can meditate specifically as you put on the:

  • belt of truth buckled around your waist
  • breastplate (shirt/undershirt) of righteousness
  • shield of (shirt/sweater/jacket) of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one
  • with your feet fitted with the (shoes of) readiness that comes from the gospel of peace
  • helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Prepare your mind to stay the course and your hands ready to fight against evil. Real power comes from the Word of God which is alive in you. You can’t have it without reading it, meditating on it, and applying it to you life.)

Getting dressed each morning by visualizing the armor of God, prepares you for the battles of the day, those that are seen and those of the mind and spirit which are unseen, but nonetheless very real. Stand firm and you really can experience peace in the middle of life’s most threatening storms.

Today marks 4 months of being cancer free. Thank you God for the immense mercy You have shown me every-single-day of this unexpected journey through Leukemia. Even on the toughest days of this ongoing battle, you have helped me to stand firm in your armor. And when I had no strength to fight, you, my One True God, fought for me, so I could be at peace even in the middle of the battle.

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:14-18

Path to Peace – Dress for “Success”

Every day when we get dressed we have a choice of what to wear. Is it going to be hot or cool? Do my activities call for nicer clothes or can I put on something more comfortable? We dress according to the activities and demands of the day.

Before we can bring light into the world we need to have a sense of real peace in our own life. If my life is generally full of fear, intimidation, bitterness, regret, anxiety, anger, etc, what hope do I have of sincerely bringing the light of hope and peace to others? Just like getting dressed, we need to ‘put on’ certain attributes each day. If you’ve ever wished you were more thoughtful, caring, full of grace, the new testament is filled with examples of ‘putting on’ attributes that embed these characteristics in your life and taking off’ things that take away from your quest to live a victorious life. None of us do this perfectly;  those generally known as being patient are sometimes impatient. Those known to be compassionate sometimes are uncaring, maybe even hurtful.  But being intentional about preparing your day to ‘put on’ compassion for example, will lead to the cultivation of a compassionate heart and life.

A practical way to prepare yourself to pursue peace throughout the day is by visualizing “putting on” the character you want to be known for, the character that nurtures peace in your lives and those whose lives you touch. You can reflect on this each morning when you get dressed. As you put on each article of clothes, you can ask God to help you ‘put on’ the ability to:

  • Extend compassion to those you meet today
  • Treat others – and yourself – with kindness
  • Walk in a humble way, not prideful, selfish, or controlling
  • Practice gentleness with others, especially those who are going through a difficult time
  • Be patient with yourself and others.

Here’s to ‘putting on the clothes of peace’ needed to Go Light Your World!

 “…Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12 b

There’s No Place Like Home

Each time I’ve watched The Wizard of Oz I’m  captivated by the scene where Dorothy fears she will never get back to her Kansas home because the wizard’s balloon left without her. Glinda shows up and tells Dorothy that she always had the power to go back home, but that she wouldn’t have believed it, saying, “She had to learn for herself.” Of course, we all know that Dorothy takes time to reflect that what she learned most was, “There is no place like home.”

Where do you call home? Is it where you live? Or maybe where you grew up or somewhere you used to live? Maybe you have a second home you use for vacations.

The bible teaches us that we are “foreigners in a strange land,” (1 Peter 2:11-12); that we are actually “citizens of heaven” Philippians 3:20-21); and that our behaviors and ambitions should reflect this. While we are citizens of our own country and have a home on this earth, this is not our real home. We are just visiting for a very short span of time in the middle of eternity.

Think how foolish it would be if you vacationed somewhere for a week or two and decided to invest all your time and money remodeling the place for that short visit. You’d spend all that time and money for a short moment of your life. That is a picture of our 70-100 year life; it is actually a very short period of time, perhaps a blink of an eye, compared to how long we will all live (somewhere) for eternity.

Evan GiallanzaEvan Giallanza knew this. He lived in El Paso where he served as worship leader and pastor at my sister’s church. But he knew his real home was in heaven. He loved Jesus, his family, his church and people in general. He fought a hard fight with a difficult cancer and fought it well, even laughing and making others laugh at the end, amidst his pain. I find myself missing this man whom I never have met!  So when I was told that Evan “went home” to be with the Lord on Memorial Day, I knew this was not just a cliché or euphemism for dying. Evan is home; no more pain, no more sorrow.  There is no place like (your real) home, a home of perfect peace that surpasses all understanding.

Would you join me in praying for his dear wife Jill who not only lost her husband but also her mother who died that same day? And also pray for their children Amy, Dustin, and Kaitlin? So many of you have prayed for Marcia and me; I tell you the truth: our battle, while still in process, is very light and momentary compared to the struggles Evan and Jill have faced and that Jill and her children have ahead of them. Perhaps you would even commit to adding this special family to your daily prayer agenda, especially during this difficult season. Thank you.

Path to Peace – Recreation

How was your Memorial Day weekend? (Note to our international readers: Memorial Day is a national day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service, our fallen heroes. It was declared a national holiday in 1971.)

Was your day meditative as you reflected on those who have given their lives to secure and preserve the freedoms we enjoy today? For many it is much the same as any other day. But for millions of Americans it is a time to reunite with family and friends.

You might be surprised to know that one of the paths to peace is through recreation. What comes to mind when you think about recreation? Watching or playing sports or music, attending art events, watching a movie, playing games, reading, shopping, partying with friends and family, or vacations to favorite destinations? I wonder how many times we miss the intent of recreation because we ‘mispronounce’ the word. If you’ve ever come back more worn out and frustrated from a vacation or family reunion than when you started, you understand the meaning of “wreckreation.” If you’ve watched a movie to “veg out” and find you’re not more relaxed than when you began, you understand too. Americans are famous at ‘wreckreating’. We are a ‘wreckreation nation’. But recreation (re-creation) involves participating in those activities that recreate us and restore our soul. They lift us emotionally, physically, and spiritually to a higher level than we were before. They recharge our batteries. It’s possible you might find ways to recreate in the same ways others ‘wreckreate’.

Here’s a practical way to apply this principle of restoration:
Take a sheet of paper and make three columns. In the first column make a list of things you do to ‘wreckreate’ that actually drag you down. In the middle column, list the things you already do that lift you up. In the last column, add to your list new things you might consider trying for thirty days to expand your re-creation skill set. For example:

  • Take a walk by yourself or with a friend
  • Start a daily journal of your thoughts and insights
  • Plant a few flowers and take care of them
  • Watch only uplifting movies
  • Read an inspirational/encouraging book
  • Read the Gospel of John
  • Take your spouse or child to a restaurant where you have to look down, not up, at the menu 😉
  • Have a normal conversation with God once (or throughout) the day

You get the idea. Enjoy some time investing in your (and your family’s) recreation on your path to peace with God.

“Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest.” – Jesus, Matthew 11:28

Path To Peace – Your Agenda

Are you still trying to figure out what is your purpose in life? Or maybe you know this but are struggling to live it out?  You’re likely looking for pieces of your life puzzle that you’ve yet to unearth along your path. Some pieces you will find only through your awareness of the needs of others who hold the pieces to your journey. You’ve made a choice about the path you’re taking:

  • The path of resignation where you’ve given up or postponed trying to live the life of adventure and passion you were meant to live;
  • The path of frantic and often tiresome self-effort where you are determined to control your life and others.
  • The path of peace where day by day -and throughout each day – you seek the One who knows the path and wants to guide you to a life of peace and victorious living, even in the middle of struggles.

Some of the struggles I’ve been dealing with lately involve the manic effects of the temporary steroid induced diabetes. These changed my behaviors and I had created my agenda of self-controlled response to the situation. After all, I had devoted thirty years of my life learning how to make positive change happen in challenging situations. And while God and I talked a lot throughout this new crisis that was pushing me hard against the wall, I had neglected to really put Him FIRST on my daily agenda. Instead, I listened to him and then went my way, allowing my agenda to fill up with whatever new struggle and frustration that popped up and how I was going to solve it, my way. Sound familiar?

It wasn’t until I was reminded to pay attention to God’s Presence in me that I could find the peace that immediately started me down the path of restoration and peace. (It was one of those humbling ‘duh, I already knew that; why aren’t I DOING that revelations!) God broke through my self-control efforts and spoke to me gently to focus on Him.

I’m still dealing with the side effects, but my response is markedly improved and getting better each day. The difference? I’ve asked Marcia and others to speak into my life and give me cues to focus on God’s presence instead of my problems. I’m making sure that my agenda not only includes God somewhere in the day, but I have to hour by hour (and sometimes moment by moment) review my day’s plan to make sure that He is leading it and that my activities haven’t become side-tracked from His plan. This keeps me from drifting in resignation and from the frantic pursuit of my own vain approach to solving problems. The path to peace comes through asking God to show you the way and then checking with Him throughout the day to make sure you are still following Him.

What does your agenda look like this week? It may be a busy one, even on a holiday, but it doesn’t have to be without a sense of peace.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

From Pieces To Peace

In yesterday’s post we discussed how we all hold pieces of each other’s life puzzle. The key, and the will of God, is to develop a sense of awareness of the people around you because sometimes it is a total stranger who crosses your path and one or both of you hold a piece of the other’s puzzle.

The last two weeks of dealing with high blood sugars on top of the continuing chemo effects has been a struggle. Being pretty active and driven in my normal state, temporary diabetes has me on a constant sugar high. The insulin is helping, but it will take some time to resolve. In the meantime, I’ve tried applying to my life the true principles I’ve learned across 30 years of teaching and fostering personal and organizational change. Truthfully, I learned a long time ago that you don’t really change anyone other than yourself (and THAT is a tough sell too). What you can do is to create and nurture a supportive environment that is conducive for you and others to make better choices about their behaviors.

So in this new manic state, I sleep 3-4 hours per night and am active all day. But all my self-effort to make positive change happen in my life, to be less irritable, less obnoxious, less hyper, less hurtful…it is not only extremely draining but of devoid of power to change. In fact all my self effort to control my behavior actually made things worse.

And then, I read my daily devotional by Sarah Young, who wrote this book, Jesus Calling, (JUST FOR ME.) 🙂 She writes:
“It is not so much adverse events that make you anxious as it is your thoughts about those events. Your mind engages in efforts to take control of a situation, to bring about the result you desire. Your thoughts close in on the problem like ravenous wolves. Determined to make things go your way, you forget that I am in charge of your life. The only remedy is to switch your focus from the problem to My Presence. Stop all your striving, and watch to see what I will do. I am the Lord!”

I am stunned that I had allowed myself to stray from this basic truth that has guided me through this unexpected journey. Switching my focus from the problem to His Presence in me allowed me to instantly calm down. Marcia and I have enjoyed four consecutive days where both of us are freed to be more relaxed amidst the various pains and struggles. It wasn’t just a piece of the puzzle I needed; it was the peace that surpasses all understanding that I needed to reclaim. Looking for pieces of your life puzzle? They are found on the path to peace.

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27

Life Is A Jigsaw Puzzle

And God knows where each piece is supposed to go.

Do you know that we all hold pieces of each others‘ puzzle? And have you ever wondered whose pieces you’re holding and who in the world has your missing pieces? How would you ever find them?

There is a way to know, although I’ll tell you it may require a life journey and adventure. A good starting place always is to slow down; actually stop from your busyness. If you are not willing to develop this daily habit you will never find all the puzzle pieces you are longing to find. (And others will never find the pieces you are holding onto because you are too busy to notice.) Take time each day and throughout the day to cultivate “being still.” God wants you to be complete and whole, in health and in sickness, when you have some money in the bank and when the bills stack high, when everyone gets along and when there are tensions, in good times and in bad.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Take your focus off your to-do list, your struggles, and your worries. Find a quiet place and talk with God in a conversational way as you would with a close friend. Ask Him to reveal who He wants to bring across your path today. He may reveal the answer as you pray. Or He may reveal it spontaneously to you later in the day. I almost walked away from such a God-provided opportunity at the grocery store a few days ago. An acquaintance was sharing their struggles while we waited in the checkout lane. When we finished talking, I turned to put my items on the checkout counter. But feeling God’s nudge, I turned back and asked the person, “Could I pray with you about this situation?”

  • One prayer: One minute of my day
  • Tears of appreciation: Will be embedded in my memory for a long time
  • The power of God to work the next step in this person’s life: PRICELESS

Whose puzzle piece do you hold today? As it becomes more and more of a habit to give away your ‘extra’ pieces, you will discover some of your own puzzle pieces along the journey. Learn to expect the unexpected and in time you will find yourself more and more sensitive to the world around you.

Tough Self Interview Questions

Yesterday’s post on twitter litter gave me pause for self-reflection. How much of my life is really lived with value, passion and purpose and how much is like so much litter? If you were interviewing YOU for a job, such questions of value and purpose would inevitably come up. So here are ten tough questions for a self interview:

1. How deep or shallow is my life? Is it preoccupied with sports and hobbies and meaningless internet communication? Or does it honor my life passions about my God, my family, and causes that being light into a dark world?

2. Would others describe me more as gentle, tender, and caring or tough and driven?

3. Am I more trusting or guarded?

4. When I walk in a room, how often do joy and love come with me?

5. What reasons do others have to trust and respect my sense of integrity?

6. Are my conversations more focused on me or others?

7. What will others miss when I am gone?

8. (How) have I resolved the most profound question in life: who is Jesus Christ? Do my life actions, including time, activities, passions, and checkbook reflect this?

9. If Christianity were a crime how much evidence would there be to ‘convict’ me?

10. How do the “fires” of life define me? Do they consume me like fire destroys straw and hay? Do they scorch and torment me even as I barely survive the flames? Or do they refine me like fire refines precious gold?

Living a life of purpose and passion requires us to take a detour off our path of meaningless habits to discover what God has prepared for us.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

Twitter Litter

I confess, I don’t know anything about Twitter. I’m twitter-illiterate. Most tweets I’ve seen are short bits of digital communication, often to express a view out of context or just let the world know what’s happening at the moment: “I am tweeting while sitting on a chair.” I’m sure there are folks who have lots of value to add through twitter. Maybe some of you twitter critters could show me why Go Light Your World should use Twitter! I invite those who tweet to educate me; click reply.

‘@TheRealBradLea’ has an astute if not pointed comment about this:
“When you tweet nothing of value, I am hereby naming it “twitter litter”…try to inspire, educate, entertain or say something worthwhile. ;)”

Hmm. Seems to be good advice for all bloggers, face book writers and in fact for DAILY LIVING! Avoid littering of ALL kinds. Don’t waste your life: make your whole life worthwhile today! Share it with others in an inspiring, entertaining, or other meangingful way.

Discover your life mission and live it fully!

Bone Marrow Biopsy

I recently had my fifth bone marrow biopsy. The first one gave me my AML diagnosis along with the rare chromosomal abnormality (t10;17) with aggressive markers at CD7 and CD56 which started the Leukemia. The second (December) confirmed the persistence of the aggressive cancer in my body. The third test (January) confirmed I was in remission. (Thank you Lord.) The fourth in March confirmed all was good to go for the stem cell transplant. And this one (May) confirms no cancer and no evidence of any of the rare abnormalities originally diagnosed.

Several people have asked about how this procedure is done. Lidocaine is used to numb an area 1-2″ below back waist band and a “sturdy” needle to poke through the bone into the bone marrow cavity. They take one sample of bone marrow and another sample that includes the lacey bone structure that is crushed up when they do the aspiration. The first one felt like someone was pulling my toes through my spine, but the intense pain only lasted 30″ or so. They gave me twilight meds (Versed/Midazolam) and Fentanyl (pain med) for the others and this last time, a very small dose of morphine. Morphine obviously helps with pain control and the Versed makes you forget what happened.

Bryan and morphine - you get the carThe funny thing about the Versed-Morphine cocktail is that you continue to converse with the nurses but your brain doesn’t know or remember what you are saying. Evidently I was a real chatterbox, talking about whatever came across my mind. Marcia relays that she and the nurse exchanged a number of smiles at my antics. In this reenactment photo, Marcia recalls me sitting on the edge of the examination table as I was ‘waking up’, looking much like this and telling her, “You get the car. I’ll get the Mango Smoothie and I’ll meet you in the lobby.” Obviously, it was a moment of pure delusion. But it seemed like I was ready to go at the time. Hoo boy! 🙂