Happy New Year!

It doesn’t really matter what your New Year’s resolution is, it’s all about the how, not the what. Adverbs are important when it comes down to it.

If your resolution is to lose a few pounds, does it make a difference whether you lose it sensibly or too fast or maybe, even, because you’re ill?

If your resolution is to make more money, does it make a difference if it is done at someone else’s expense or illegally?

No matter what we pick as the what of the resolution, the focus really must be on the how as well. Consider the adverb. The how of things makes a difference.

Generously or greedily. Selfishly or selflessly. Safely or recklessly. Kindly or maliciously. Honestly or dishonestly.

For every action that you can resolve to do, there is a spectrum of hows to reach that goal. Maybe, even, there is a line that can be crossed on that spectrum where the what isn’t important anymore because it involves a how that will make us someone who we don’t want to be.

So, when you’re going about planning your new year, consider what adverbs you want to be a part of it.

What is worth fighting for?

What is worth fighting for? Sometimes a battle is won in a courageous show of strength and derring do. A fire fighter runs into a burning building to save a child. A passerby stops to help victims of an accident. A pilot steers a damaged plane to safety.

But sometimes the battle requires showing up time after time with love, kindness, and patience. Not giving up on someone. Having faith that love will win. Believing that relationships can be salvaged.

That takes courage, too.

Remember whose you are.

The days before Christmas can be frantic. We sometimes find our tempers short, our tongues loose, and our wits frayed. We think of Christmas as something in the future, speeding toward us, that we need to hurry around and prepare for so that we can enjoy His coming. But a birthday, like Christmas, is a celebration of something that has already happened. And, in the case of Christmas, it is a celebration of a whole new world order that is here. We are His now, not just at Christmas. We need to shine with His love now and everyday. Particularly when the world is harried. We need to reflect the joy and peace that comes with knowing that love conquers all.

Pause. Breathe. And remember whose you are.

Keeping Christmas

Love wins.

Isn’t that the bottom line of Christmas? Strip away all the decorations and gifts and songs and celebrations, and what remains is: love wins. It’s about love. God loves us, and we are to love each other. And even in a world divided by hate, blind to oneness, driven by greed, love will win. Because that’s the point of Christmas.

It’s about the love.

Erring on the side of love.

We tend to judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions. What that looks like in practice is forgiving ourselves for a lot of things–selfishness, neglect, mistakes–that we don’t forgive anyone else for when the same harm is done to us.

But what if we flipped that and gave other people the benefit of the doubt and show them the same understanding we give ourselves? What if their statements that seem hurtful are merely ill thought out? What if  what feels like neglect is really just busyness with something else? What if everyone is intending to do their best, but falls short over and over?

Just like we do.

Instead of anger, hurt, and frustration, our relationships would be peppered with compassion and understanding and the ability to grow and blossom.

What we do today.

It’s a new day. How will you greet it?

Maybe yesterday was sodden with anxiety, frustration, sleeplessness, anger.

It’s a new day. How will you fill it?

Maybe yesterday, you made some mistakes, maybe big ones.

It’s a new day. How will you manage it?

Today is a new day. Breath it in. Savor it. Consider the possibilities of how you greet, fill, and manage it in such a way that it is a beautiful day.

Peace through understanding

What does it take to prevent a country fracturing from disagreements and divisions? Perhaps it is the same thing that keeps any relationship from severing. First, a deep desire for reconciliation. A laying down of arms. A recognition that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that there is value and growth in working things out. Next, perhaps would be a deep humility, a recognition that one side doesn’t have all the answers while the other is ignorant and foolish, but an understanding that both sides have stories to tell and an eagerness to be heard. And finally, perhaps would come respect. Each side coming together voluntarily, knowing their future strength is in union rather than destruction.

The right to vote

Today, in the United States, we vote. We celebrate a country that allows its citizens input into this remarkable experiment of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

We honor this country and its principles of equality, freedom, and justice for all. Our understanding of those concepts has evolved over time, and taken some steps back, but today let us be grateful for how far we’ve come and consider the steps that we each might take today and every day to make this country move closer to the ideals for which it stands. It is both a privilege and a responsibility to vote.

Seeking opportunities for love.

If you look for thorns, you’ll see thorns. If you look for love, you’ll see it all around you. And if you look for opportunities to make a difference, to shower people with love, and to take a stand for all that is good and right in the world, those opportunities will be there.

What opportunities do you see in the day ahead?

A place where we’ll be safe.

Where do we find comfort when we’re hurting? For many, it is through song, through prayer, or through poetry…sometimes through all three together.

I pray this father-daughter duet brings you joy. I pray the words stir your soul and fill you with comfort. God’s peace.

Lyrics to “The Prayer,” written by Carole Bayer Sager and David W. Foster

I pray you’ll be our eyes

And watch us where we go

And help us to be wise

In times when we don’t know

Let this be our prayer

When we lose our way

Lead us to a place

Guide us with your grace

To a place where we’ll be safe

La luce che tu hai (I pray we’ll find your light)

Nel cuore resterà (And hold it in our hearts)

A ricordarci che (When stars go out each night) L’eterna stella sei (Whoa)

Nella mia preghiera (Let this be our prayer)

Quanta fede c’è (When shadows fill our day)

Lead us to a place (Guide us with your grace)

Give us faith so we’ll be safe

La forza che ci dà (We ask that life be kind)

È il desiderio che (And watch us from above)

Ognuno trovi amor (We hope each soul will find) Intorno e dentro a sé (Another soul to love)

Let this be our prayer

Just like every child

Need to find a place

Guide us with your grace

Give us faith so we’ll be safe