A Different Point Of View

A writer’s mission is to articulate something – truth – mystery – instruction … usually from a collection of thoughts and ideas scribbled and jotted down in journals, notebooks or computer files. Those nuggets come to us, and we save them, curate them, and share in a way that hopefully the reader gets what we are trying to say. That’s how it usually happens.

For me, today, the ideas felt so complete that I decided to share them just as I got them – in the order that they came to my pen. I hope they offer as much encouragement and inspiration to you as they still are to me.

“It’s time to get off the poor me train, give yourself a good kick in the ares, and start taking action to get the life you truly deserve.” (Steve Atchison)

“I am not a product of my circumstances, I am a product of my decisions.” (Steven Covey)

“Happiness is, when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” (Gandhi)

Stop focusing on how stressed you are and start focusing on how blessed you are.

“Soulful living is about slowing and developing a present-moment awareness.” (Prevention Magazine)

“Growth is painful; change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” (Steve Maraboli)

“The best teachers are the ones who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.” (Alexandria K. Trenfor)

“Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.” (Frances Bacon)

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” (Henry David Thoreau)

I could probably chew on these the rest of the month and not taste the full value they bring to my life. How about you?

Greg Tutwiler, www.FreedomLiving.org

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We Want Peace

“We live in a culture that places a high value on being busy,” writes Rev. Dr. Judy Morley. “We go through life sleep deprived, stressed out and worried that we didn’t finish everything, despite getting more done than was thought humanly possible just a generation ago. We have become human doings instead of human beings.”

It’s no wonder that interest in things like off-grid living, tiny house projects, and container gardening are on the rise. We have succumbed to a spirit of busyness and our inner spirit is growing weary of the chaos. We want solutions. We want relief. We want peace.

But we have it backwards. Our creator says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God” (Divine guidance, hope, faith, inspiration, encouragement, direction), and everything you need will be added to your life. But our priorities have shifted to a predominately materialistic point of view. We seek first everything we think we want or need and then ask God to bless it. Morley says, “We replace diving guidance with frantic action and hope that our effort will produce enough results to compensate for our lack of inspiration.” We have to get out of the spin-cycle before it chokes our soul completely.

One way to do this is to practice lingering. In moments of love, beauty, laughter, etc., don’t rush to check them off your list; linger. Stay in the moment. Allow them to make an impression. As the March 11th entry for the devotional, God Calling, describes, “Look for beauty and joy (intentionally seek) in the world around. Look at a flower until its beauty becomes part of your soul (linger). It will be given back to the world again by you in the form of a smile or a loving word or a kind thought or prayer (paying it forward).” Listen intently to the song of a bird, or the rustling of the leaves on a tree. Take a few extra minutes to gaze at the clouds or the stars. Dip your hand in a stream and experience the water flowing through your fingers.

In these moments, linger, and soak in the Divine creation for it’s incredible power to bless you as you pause. These moments have the ability to shift your mind back towards a simpler life if you will practice them often enough. And they can return you to a state of calm and peace. Otherwise, a life void of these moments will starve the heart and eventually destroys the soul.

The Hallway Of Decision

We’ve all heard the statement, “when one door closes, another door opens.” I think one of life’s greatest tragedies is that moment when that door behind us has closed, and we stand at the thresh hold of a new door, afraid to go through. I call that the hallway of decision. Have you ever been there? That new door represents opportunity, possibilities, and advancement; but also the basis for uncertainty, and self doubt, and insecurity. There is this tendency to think we’re safe in that hallway. We can even get comfortable there. We can camp out there for as long as our bank account, or our support system, or the social environment will allow. But it’s a false sense of security. What we think is safe is actually a trap. What was meant to be a bridge becomes an obstacle.

Life is fluid, organic, and unpredictable. When our foundation is altered, we are thrust into the hallway of decision bound for another door. That is how life works. But it’s up to us to progress on through. We are here to be a part of the bigger picture, not live our lives perpetually at the threshold of decision.

Walt Whitman once wrote;
“What good amid these, O me, O life?
Answer.
That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

Closing and opening doors are part of life’s journey; part of the process of existence. When we allow fear or some other self imposed emotion to keep us stalled in those hallways, we, by default, have taken ourselves out of life. Sure, we move about. But rarely do we stray from the supposed comfort of our little hallway. The “powerful play” of life does go on, with or without us. It is inevitable. We cannot stop the progress of time no more than we can suspend the nature of aging.

Nineteenth century philosopher Rosa Luxemburg wrote, “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” Ponder that for a moment. Those who do not move, do not notice their chains. Are there hallways in your life that have been dormant for so long that you don’t even recognize the chains that keep you there?

As I begin to move into my fifth decade of life, ideas like this start to bear more weight. But here’s the hope in all this. You and I hold the keys to the locks that bind those chains. C. S. Lewis wrote, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched, or go bad.” Life is the hatching process. The next door might just the one where you get to fly. You’re great verse may be just a door step away. But you’ll never know unless you take a chance and move through it. To take a risk is to risk failure. But to avoid risk is to guarantee failure. Will you take a chance, and take the risk? To stay put offers but one eventual outcome; regret.

Personal Philosophy For Living

A personal philosophy for living is essential to living a great life. Numb is not a philosophy. Getting by isn’t either. It’s not about what you have – but what you do with what you have. If you don’t have a personal philosophy, you should. Here are eleven thoughts to get you started.

1) Read something (positive) 20 minutes a day. Exercise your brain. It builds character and enriches your soul.

2) Write (journal or blog) for 20 minutes a day. It’s the one thing in life that you are guaranteed to be perfect at. There no rules. Just write. Get your ideas about life out of your brain and onto paper. The healing attributes of journaling are amazing.

3) Exercise at least 20 minutes a day. Move! Do something. Walk. Stretch. Do sit-ups. Getting the blood moving improves overall health and brain function. And it improves your attitude too.

4) Make healthy food choices. It’s not that hard. Minimize starch, sugar, and salt. All three in excess are the cause for most of our health related issues.

5) Keep an attitude of gratitude. There is always, always something to be thankful for. Look around. Your life ain’t that bad. And when you figure that out, share the love.

6) Eliminate the negative mental garbage. Turn off the news channels, and turn off the radio talk shows. Negativity sells. Don’t believe it? Count the number of commercials.

7) Do what you love, or love what you do. If you don’t love it, change your attitude or change your job. Stress leads to illness and bad coping habits. If eight hours of your day are filled with stress, you can bet the other 16 will be negatively effected as well.

8) Find a creative outlet for expression. Paint, write, draw, build, carve, sew. Don’t have time? Make the time. It’s a great stress reliever.

9) Make plenty time for family and faith. Nothing is more important. At the end of life, those will be the only things left to comfort you.

10) Be present. Live each day from start to finish as if it were your first and your last. Regretting backwards and projecting forwards robs you of the present moment. And that’s where life really exists.

11) Never be happy with status quo. Your life is a gift given to you, and a gift to be offered back to those around you. Be an inspiration. Be a role model. Be a mentor. Be authentic.

Try that for 30 days and see how things change!

Your Coach, Greg Tutwiler

Are We There Yet?

At a men’s conference in late 2006, one of our assignments was to take some personal time to get away and reflect. We were at a lodge in the mountains of Virginia, so the natural path was up a mountain trail. I found a old, tall Oak tree and took a seat in a pile of leaves. Like any good student, I took out my Bible and journal and began to read and write. I wrote mostly questions – to God – and then proceeded to answer them as best as I thought He would. Sounds kind of humorous now that I think about it. Eventually though, I heard this whisper in my spirit; “Are you done yet?” After some wrestling with what I knew was God prompting me to get quiet and listen; I put down my pen and sat there restlessly for the next 25 minutes. Finally, a passage came to my heart; Hebrews 3:13. I flipped through the pages of my Bible, landing on these words; ” … encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today …” That was it. I knew then that those simple words would be my life’s mission. And I came down ready to get started. Was I in for an experience!

Later that fall I read a piece from Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost For His Highest (July 6) that has proved to be quite true, and helpful, over these past seven years. “We always have visions, before a thing is made real. When we realize that although the vision is real, it is not real in us, then is the time that Satan comes in with his temptations, and we are apt to say it is no use to go on. Instead of the vision becoming real, there has come the valley of humiliation. God gives us the vision, then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give way. Every vision will be made real if we will have patience. Think of the enormous leisure of God! He is never in a hurry.”

What is your vision? What has God laid on your heart for the journey of your life? Has it been made real yet? If not, it’s okay, trust me. The past seven years have been an amazing journey into myself with God as the trail guide. But it hasn’t been easy, and I’m pretty sure the vision hasn’t been made completely real yet either. Today God reminded me again of that mountain top experience as he led me to this entry from the Jesus Calling devotional for August 22. “You live in the middle of a fierce spiritual battle, and fear is one of Satan’s favorite weapons.”

We all need hope and encouragement. It’s what we really need to find the strength for this life, more than ever. So be encouraged today. While the world is set against you, God is for you, always has been, always will be. And the vision will be made real in his perfect timing.

Change, I Dare You

I woke up this morning at five AM with an epiphany. Wednesday (12/5) marks 21 days til Christmas. Various research suggests that it takes 21 days to change a habit; or at least initiate positive change. If that’s true, 21 days would certainly also be a good time frame to accomplish a desired goal. And I have a few goals, changes, bad habits, etc., that I’d like to address. So I grabbed my journal and a pen and captured as much of the incoming information as I could (hoping I could go back to sleep). Following is the deciphering of my notes and idea:

I am offering a 21 day challenge. Give yourself a Christmas present. Challenge yourself to focus intently on one or two specific goals for the next 21 days – quit something, start something, change something – lose a few pounds, begin an exercise routine, learn a new craft, adopt a new hobby … Change is difficult, and oh, how we resist it. But the only way for something to change is for you to change something. We cannot change something we are willing to continue to tolerate. What are you tolerating? What change would you like to make in your life? What goal would you like to accomplish? If it’s a smaller goal like painting that room you’ve been putting off – make a commitment to paint it this weekend, and then pick a new goal. How much can you get done in 21 days? Create a list of small projects that have been haunting you – and knock them out. You have two days to think about it.

I came up with a list of 21 attributes of change. Each day I’ll pass one along to those of you who decide to participate, as a way of encouragement. They will be the beginnings of the manuscript I am preparing for a new book; “Yes You Can! 21 Attributes Of Personal Change,” which is one of my two personal goals – the other is to lose 10 pounds. I believe (which is one of the attributes) I can accomplish both. But here’s an important piece; IF we fall short, we haven’t failed. We have only failed if we never try. If we don’t completely reach a specific goal, we celebrate the progress, reset the due date, and continue on.

I will set up a facebook community page (Yes I Can) for those of you that wish to receive some daily encouragement. Your presence and participation will encourage others as well. All of this is a big undertaking for me, but it’s been on my heart for some time – probably like many of you with your own goals. But there’s no time like the present. And why not wake up Christmas morning with the personal gift of knowing you did it!

Email me if you’re interested in joining the “Yes I Can” challenge. I’ll add you to the list, and fill you in on the details as we go. (By the way, there’s not cost for this – it’s my Christmas gift to you.)

Stinkin’ Thinkin’

The world lost another great philosopher yesterday. Zig Ziggler passed on at the age of 86. He was loved and respected by many, not only for his positive approach to life, but also his commitment to the Christian faith. He influenced many from several generations and his wisdom will continue for generations to come I’m sure.
One of my favorite books of his is actually one featured in the “For Dummies” series; called Success For Dummies. In honor of Zig, I  pulled a few tid-bits from that work, continuing in the same theme from my last entry, Moving Past The Fear.
Zig coins the phrase, “Stinkin’ Thinkin’,” and suggests that when you develop a case of it, consider these ideas about dealing with that negativity in your thought process:
1. “There are no hopeless situations, only people who lose hope in their situations.”
2. “You can find at least two ways to look at virtually everything. A pessimist looks for difficulty in the opportunity, whereas an optimist looks for opportunity in the difficulty.”
3. “Many people look only at the problem and not at the opportunity that lies within the problem.”
4. “A small coin can hide even the sun if you hold the coin close enough to your eye. So when you get too close to your problems to think objectively about them, try to keep in mind how your vision can be obstructed, take a step back, and look at the situation from a new angle. Look up instead of down.”
5. “You can’t do anything to change the fact that a problem exists, but you can do a great deal to find the opportunity within the problem.”
6. “A positive attitude doesn’t guarantee success, but a cynical attitude guarantees failure.”
Thanks for all your great wisdom, Zig!
Enjoy your days with Jesus!