Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rocky Road

If you’re breathing you have had a few challenges in your life. It seems to me the little, sometimes daily stresses are like little pebbles beneath our feet. The stresses can be as simple as getting cut off while driving, picking up a bottle and finding the lid isn’t on tight so that what was inside is now outside, forgetting your umbrella during a rain storm, or getting to a store after it’s closed. I’m sure there are many inconveniences you could add to this list, but you get what I’m saying. The bothersome things of life – like bothersome pebbles -- can provide an occasion for stress. I see these as the gravel beneath our feet. Don’t let them trip you up! Walk above them.

Sometimes we encounter rocks, big enough to cause problems but you can see over them. These are situations that you find right smack-dab in the middle of your path. They just show up out of nowhere and you can find yourself stumbling right over them. These rocks might be relationship issues, job tensions, or even stupid things like drinking and driving, smoking, and the like. The goal is to spot them as soon as they plop down and then be able to side step. Unfortunately, I have personally discovered that I’ve had to trip over a few of these rocks and get a bit scraped up before I could learn to recognize these impediments. Learn to recognize these rocks and miss them the next time they find their way in your path.

Then there are boulders. These gargantuan rocks fall with a thundering thud, totally blocking your path. I have found they tend to come in groups, too. They typically occur stacked one on top of another, reaching heights for which a telescope would be needed to see their top. Boulders are things like being laid off-thud, house foreclosures-pound, divorce-crash, bankruptcy-pummel, and major health issues-smash. What do you do? What have you done? I have taken my little hammer and hacked away at a few boulders myself. Have you? Are you now? How do you bulldozed or surmounted these troublesome obstacles?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Story of St. Patrick's Day

The story of St. Patrick's Day begins around 385 AD with a man named Maewyn. At age 16, the Pagan Maewyn was sold into slavery, which brought him closer to God. He finally managed to escape slavery six years later and headed to a monastery in Gaul to study, where he adopted the Christian name "Patrick." Upon ending his studies, he moved to Ireland, where he felt his calling in life was to convert Pagans to Christianity. For the next 30 years, he traveled throughout the country, setting up monasteries and converting the natives. After his death in 461 (on March 17¦when else did you expect?), he was declared a saint.

So what happened from there? How did a man who spent his entire life converting Pagans to Christianity result in a day devoted to rowdy songs, parades, and drinking green beer, a day when everyone is just a wee bit Irish? The first St. Patrick's Day Parade was in America, not Ireland. It took place in New York City in 1762, and consisted of Irish soldiers in the English military marching through the city. This was a chance for the soldiers to reconnect with their heritage. Eventually, as more Irish immigrants came to America, the parades were a show of strength for Irish-Americans and political candidates had to make an appearance at them. Now a regular annual event, people of all backgrounds celebrate this day.

Ireland, on the other hand, does not have such a long history of St. Patrick's Day celebrations. Prior to the 1970s, it was a religious occasion and, indeed, Irish law mandated that pubs be closed on March 17! Apparently, there was no green beer for those in Ireland. This changed around 1995, when the government made a push to use St. Patrick's Day as a way to drive tourism and to showcase Ireland to the rest of the world. Parades and celebrations are now common in Ireland around this day (in fact, their celebrations last several days) and some one million people took part in last year's festivities in Dublin.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valentine Day Fun Facts

•About 1 billion Valentine's Day cards are exchanged in US each year. That's the largest seasonal card-sending occasion of the year, next to Christmas.

•Women purchase 85% of all valentines.

•In order of popularity, Valentine's Day cards are given to teachers, children, mothers, wives, sweethearts and pets.

•Parents receive 1 out of every 5 valentines.

•About 3% of pet owners will give Valentine's Day gifts to their pets.

•Valentine's Day and Mother's Day are the biggest holidays for giving flowers.

•Worldwide, over 50 million roses are given for Valentine's Day each year.

•California produces 60 percent of American roses, but the vast number sold on Valentine's Day in the United States are imported, mostly from South America. Approximately 110 million roses, the majority red, will be sold and delivered within a three-day time period.

•73% of people who buy flowers for Valentine's Day are men, while only 27 percent are women.

•In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.

•The Italian city of Verona, where Shakespeare's lovers Romeo and Juliet lived, receives about 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet every Valentine's Day.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Help for Haiti

On Tuesday, January 12, 2010, at 5:10 p.m. Haiti was hit with a 7.0 earthquake that leveled areas in and around Port au Prince, leaving thousands homeless and an untold number of lives lost. Survivors are in desperate need of basic life-giving resources. LifeWind's donors are calling and asking, "How can we help?"

Prayer is our first and foremost response. In addition, LifeWind’s participation will be threefold:

Immediate relief will be distributed by trusted Community Health Evangelism (CHE) groups who work in the earthquake zone.
During the recovery period, LifeWind will empower further work of CHE in the area around the earthquake zone.
Across Haiti, we will empower CHE teams. They help community members work together to address the key issues of poverty, disease, and infrastructure, bringing resilience through community organization when facing disaster. And as the message of CHE is taught, participants hear and receive the gospel of Jesus Christ, the One who brings HOPE