4 Paths to Powerful Peace

Even though it is summer, do you feel like “I can’t keep up”? By keeping up I’m referring to:  the latest crisis in the news, current events, social media postings, Netflix recommendations, stacks of unread books, bursting email inboxes, text messages, etc., etc., etc. When I read this newsletter paragraph from an organization called Ransomed Heart, I can completely relate:

First, a friend shared with me how much he was enjoying a podcast by a thoughtful NPR commentator, and the nuggets of insight were impressive. A few hours later a different friend mentioned how much they were getting out of another podcast. I thought to myself, I’d better subscribe to those; they sound really good and I feel like I’m not keeping up with the trends. That afternoon, Stasi said something about some world news event she had just read about, and I thought, Wow – I am not keeping up on global happenings. I’d better do more of that, too. During a meeting the next day, someone makes a reference to a well-known ministry when everyone else at the table nods like they knew the story, and I’m wondering, Wow – I have no idea what is going on in the church world; I need to keep up. Meanwhile during the same meeting everyone was checking their cell phones for messages, updates, and news . . .  The cumulative effect of all this – and I am describing a fairly benign and ordinary week – was to have a large part of me feeling woefully ill-informed, and grossly out of touch with all sorts of important matters. Shame was not far behind, followed by the scrambling we do to “get back on top of things.”

Sound familiar? Deep inside – I think we all know the truth. We can’t get caught up! If we embrace that concept, some of the pressure starts to subside. What is a true priority to us starts to clarify. Here are 4 ways to enhance your journey toward inner peace:

  1. Mornings (or evenings if you’re a night owl) – Whatever time fits you, as long as you have a margin of space when things quiet down, and you can be alone. Reflect on the good and bad of the day. Count your blessings and be thankful. Think, calm down, pray. Try sitting still. Read. Veg watching a classic movie.
  2. Making Memories – Be the one who takes the initiative for doing something. Schedule that overdue visit with someone at Starbucks. Pull out a board game or puzzle for family or friends. Try a new vacation spot. Stay in a nice hotel for an evening. If money is tight – go on a bike trek. Explore the library or a museum. My son recently shared one of his favorite childhood memories was fishing at Bear Creek. All I can remember were tangled lines, turtles getting our hooks in their mouths, and my impatience and frustration at not catching anything but maybe once or twice during all those years. Funny how kids see things clearer than we do. It wasn’t about the fish, it was about the time.
  3. Mental – choosing a positive attitude in spite of circumstances. Author Jon Gordon talks about how when we get hit unexpectedly with a challenge, we basically have a quarter of a second to choose positive instead of negative thoughts. It’s tough, but try it. At first, the positive sounds a little hokey or “pie in the skyish”. But the longer you engage in the practice, the positive thoughts start to become more authentic – and creative solutions start unveiling themselves. You will actually begin to feel better emotionally and mentally – and look at your situation with hope and possibilities instead of gloom and doom.
  4. Miles (okay, being outdoors – I struggled to find an “M” word for it) – Texas summers make this tough, but every now and then we get a cloud cover or a rainstorm to cool things off. C.S. Lewis believed that if you were physically capable – every person should take a walk everyday. Walking, hiking, biking, going to the park, sports, gardening, swimming, BBQ, washing the car or dogs, fixing stuff – anything that gives you an excuse to get outside.

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46: 10) We could all use a little more of being still. . . .

Please comment below – what is your favorite way of pursuing inner peace?

Blessings,

Dave

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

P.S. Please click on the Amazon link above for past blogs and books 🙂

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Practical Advice From The Navy Seals Part 2

A heart-felt thanks to those selfless individuals that gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving in our armed forces. We honor you this past Memorial Day weekend, and the other 364 days of the year.

Back in November of 2015, I wrote a blog about life insights from The Navy Seals. According to statistical feedback – it has been one of my most read blogs. Somehow a connection was forged on how ordinary people like you and I could take on the habits of legendary warriors like the Navy Seals. There is so much information out there, I wanted to share more. In case you missed it, here were the three key points that were highlighted last time:

  • SEALs are incredibly punctual
  • SEALs push their bodies and minds to the extreme 
  • SEALs carefully select what words they use

Here are three more insights for our reflection:

  • SEALs use the basics of deep breathing to calm down and focus on their mission – Whether in training or on the battlefield, Navy Seals have to be at their sharpest mentally at all times. The majority of the time they are physically and emotionally exhausted. Mark Divine, author of The Way of the Seal discusses deep breathing during several portions of his book. When under stress, afraid, or surprised – we enter into fight or flight mode – and that includes not breathing properly. He states, “Before you can take control of you mind, you must first calm it down. The fastest way to calm your mind, along with your body, is through slow and controlled deep breathing . . . This settling practice helps reduce mental chatter, prevents your mind from wandering, and is generally a great boost to your self-control efforts. It will also rebalance your nervous system and reduce harmful physiological effects associated with fear and stress.” (pg. 34-35)
  • You and I – Try it now. Take in a deep breath with your nose and mouth, fill your lungs with air, and slowly exhale through your mouth for 5 seconds. Do it at least two more times and you should feel better. This is a great skill to quickly use before a tough conversation, an interview, a presentation, speaking up when we are normally silent, when we feel anger coming on, when we’re lost, stuck in traffic, late for an appointment, even helping our kids de-escalate from a tantrum – basically when we are anxious or stressed about anything. Calming our breathing down puts us in the right mental state to think clearly, pray for guidance, complete our task,  and look for solutions instead of dwelling on the problem. It is a quick fix to immediately feel better and reoriented.
  • SEALs break things down into the smallest increments  – They refer to it as “simplifying the battlefield.” It means eliminating distractions. Devine states: “When we eliminate distractions, we can better see the simple, elegant solutions and remain front-sight focused on the right way forward. Even elite teams can get distracted and veer toward the complex.” (pg.46-47) He talks about a training exercise potential recruits must pass to progress in his Seal Leadership Program. They take the normal push up position, and then have to maintain that position for 45 minutes. The majority fail the test the first time after about 5 minutes. Those that eventually pass the test have discovered the secret: you have to break the 45 minutes down into seconds – completely having your mind and body in that present moment, second by second, then minute by minute.and believing that you are far more capable of doing beyond what you envision your limitations are.
  •  You and I – Wow, distractions – where do I start? Just like the SEALs do, in small parts. Maybe developing the discipline of turning off our electronic devices for a set amount of time every day? Possibly moving into a different room to work on a project that requires concentration, or a school assignment. Setting a timer and giving laser-like focus to the task at hand until the set time is up. Perhaps being okay with unopened email. Increasing our face time with family and friends – and decreasing our virtual time with them. What about the 45 minute push-up example? What is overwhelming to us now that we need to break into small, manageable parts? Extreme example – I recently had the unpleasant adventure of flying from Dallas to Orlando while passing a kidney stone. I would not recommend you trying this at home. The first response was panic because I didn’t know what was wrong. Was a major organ giving out? Had I been bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider? Anyway, I started with short, deep breaths to try to calm my mind and body down. During those excruciating 3 hours – I also attempted to fill my mind with prayer, Bible passages, counting in my head from 1 – 100 while clearly visualizing each number, and positive mental images of puppies running joyfully through endless meadows. Though the pain remained, those practices helped provide a buffer until I could get medical attention.
  • SEALs put others needs above their own – The selflessness they display while defending our country. A job description that features the willingness to lay down their lives for a team member or someone in distress. How many disasters have they prevented that we don’t know about? Writer Jason King describes how he embraced this principle while attempting to pass the “surf torture challenge” portion of a SEAL Leadership Training. Imagine lying on the beach sand in sunny California listening to the waves gently crash into the shore. Sounds great doesn’t it? This exercise is slightly different. You still get to lay on the beach, but you are backwards – your head is closest to the water. You have locked both arms with the person next to you forming a giant human chain. And it isn’t a warm, sunny day – it is dreadfully cold water and air. You can hear the ocean rumbling and waves breaking but without seeing, you’re never sure when they will next wash over you or for how long.Here are snippets from King’s experience:

    From behind us, we could hear the 4-foot waves crashing in from the Pacific. The trouble was, we could never seem to get connected with the cadence of when they were going to next wash over our faces, filling our eyes, ears, throats and noses with sand, stones and seawater.

    The not knowing is part of how this “evolution” (Navy SEAL-speak for a really challenging exercise) gets the cheery name of “surf torture.” You don’t know when you’re next going to feel like you’re drowning. The task at hand is to manage your fear.

    So here’s what I learned and, actually, here’s how I learned it:

    While all of this is happening, something is washing over your mind as well: fear. Fear that you may be drowning. After all, our minds have a very ancient job to do, bestowed upon them by instinct: watch out for threats to our existence. It is natural then that during surf torture, your mind may start to wander and do its thing; running through various disaster scenarios, convinced that death could be rolling in with the next wave.

    Want to know the secret behind how to get through this evolution?

    Stop thinking about yourself and keep your eyes on the team.

    You see, if you get trapped in your own experience surf torture is absolutely just that: torture. It’s designed to be a psychological test even more than a physical one: You constantly feel like you could be drowning. With every wave, you feel like you’re going to get dragged out to sea. With every minute that ticks by, you get colder and have more trouble getting your breath and keeping your faculties. Your fight or flight instincts are pinging all over the inside of your brain, looking for an escape hatch.

    The secret to getting through it all is to get fierce about protecting the people around you. You use all your physical strength to anchor your teammates against the rip tide so that the team doesn’t wash out into deeper water. You hold them tighter so that they can be warmer. You try to make them laugh, get them to sing or just do anything to get everyone’s mind off the fact that they are experiencing a gnarly challenge and many of them are scared . . . “

    So, that’s how you survive surf torture . . . (Beyond Personal Development: What I Learned From The Navy Seal Surf Torture, Huffington Post Online, 12/2015)

  • You and I – This principle speaks for itself. Where do we need to start focusing on others instead of ourselves – home, work, church, the community? Will we be on the alert for that person who crosses our path needing a word of encouragement, a laugh, or help with something they are too embarrassed to ask about? Where is fear holding us back? The late Zig Ziglar was known for his great quote of: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

” . . . But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.” (Matthew 20:26 NLT)

I hope this helps. There are plenty more principles out there – so look for part 3 sometime in the distant future 🙂

Blessings,

David Rische
https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

 

 

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The Power of Being Positive

I was recently honored to be chosen for Jon Gordon’s latest Book Launch Team. This was my first time to be on a team like this, so I didn’t know what to expect. We basically read the book, posted quotes on a private FB page and Twitter, wrote a review on Amazon, and now encourage others to read/purchase it.

I have already read several of Gordon’s books – so I was envisioning a basic review of past material. Maybe a few motivational moments and inspirational stories woven throughout the chapters. This book FAR exceeded my expectations. It provides a tremendous life philosophy, testimonies of those living out his principles of positivity, and simple action steps you can immediately implement that will produce results. Don’t let the title fool you – everyone can be a leader somehow and somewhere. From the family room, boardroom, classroom (students and teachers), sports field (coaches and players), neighborhood, at any job in any position at any age, and church volunteers. All of us have the power to change ourselves and those around us in spite of circumstances. Here are my top ten quotes or insights from The Power of Positive Leadership (these come from the uncorrected proof version):

  1. “We are not positive because life is easy. We are positive because life can be hard.” (pg.7)
  2. “Pessimists don’t change the world. Critics write words but they don’t write the future. Naysayers talk about problems but they don’t solve them. Throughout history we see that it’s the optimists, the believers, the dreamers, the doers, and the positive leaders who change the world.” (pg. 9)
  3. “Your most important job as leader is to drive the culture – and not just any culture. You must create a positive culture that energizes and encourages people, fosters connected relationships and great teamwork, empowers and enables people to learn and grow, and provides an opportunity for people to do their best work.” (pg. 16)
  4. (From Dr. James Gills who completed a double triathlon six times, last when he was 59 years old): “I’ve learned to talk to myself instead of listen to myself.” (J. Gordon) “Too often we listen to ourselves and hear all the complaints, self-doubt, fear, and negativity that lead to unhappiness, failure and unfulfilled goals. But just because you have a negative thought doesn’t mean you have to believe it.” (pg. 52)
  5. “Anyone pursuing anything worthwhile will fail and fail often. I certainly have failed many times, but when I look back I realize I wasn’t failing, I was growing, I was becoming.” (pg. 54)
  6. ” . . . fear and faith have one thing in common. They both believe in a future that hasn’t happened yet.  . . .  Why wouldn’t we choose to believe in a positive future? Why wouldn’t we choose to believe our best days are ahead of us, not behind us.” (pg. 66)
  7. “One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is that they ignore the negativity within their team and organization. They allow it to breed and grow, and it eventually sabotages the team and organization. You must address the negativity. Confront it, transform it, or remove it.” (pg. 71)
  8. “People follow the leader first and their vision second. What you say is important, but who you are is even more important.” (pg.101)
  9. “Positive communicators also spread positive gossip. Instead of sharing negative gossip, be the kind of communicator who spreads positive news about people.” (pg. 111)
  10. “However with leadership comes scrutiny, praise, critics, and attacks. A leader could find a cure for cancer and would still have some people criticize them for it . . . Positive leaders don’t work in a tranquil sea of positivity, but in the storms of adversity and negativity. Leadership is knowing that the critics will criticize you but still saying what needs to be said and doing what needs to be done.” (pg. 175)

Phew! I could easily had triple the amount of quotes. This is a life changing book to have on your shelf, and re-read at least once a year. Available on Amazon or at your favorite retailer. And hey, if you’re in the spirit of book buying – please check out my new Author’s Page on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

 

 

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When God Disrupts Your Plans (at Disney World of all Places)!

Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the Lord will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)

Are you a “Planner”, or do you like to “Fly by the seat of your pants”? I’m a total Planner. Thus, the inspiration for this blog.

BTW – I borrowed the picture from the internet, I have no idea who originally created it. Let me know if it is you. 🙂
I had extensively planned for about 8 months a Orlando Spring Break vacation for my daughter’s senior trip. We had never been there as a family – so I read endless books, conducted extensive interviews and interrogations with those that had been past visitors, and combed the Internet for anything related to this magical place. This was going to be the greatest family trip we (or anyone else in history) had ever taken. This time, I was going to do everything right. No room for error. Pure joy. Every activity would be on a precise schedule – just like Robert Deniro’s character in Meet the Parents.

The trip got off to a rough start when I noticed a sharp discomfort in my lower back around 5:30 am at DFW Airport. Thought it was a cramp, nerves, or some other nuance that would go away. We boarded the flight, and those uncomfortable airplane seats were even more uncomfortable. Three hours later, I was writhing in pain – I literally started crawling on the floor of the terminal at the Orlando airport. Was this “The Big One” like Fred Sanford used to say? Were one of my major organs giving out? Appendix bursting? We found a saint of a cab driver that sped us to a close and quality ER. About 5 hours later, I had passed my first kidney stone! Okay, this wasn’t in the plans. However, the medical staff patched me up – and I was screaming in exhilaration as we rode The Everest Expedition Roller Coaster that evening. Slight “blip” in the plans, but we would hit the next few days with a vengeance. Universal Studios and Harry Potter World were tomorrow.

In spite of getting up at the crack of dawn, it seemed as though tens of thousands of other people had that same idea. As the lines allowed, we rode every ride we could between the two Universal Parks (some marketing genius out there conceived the idea of splitting up the Harry Potter World into two worlds – I would love to say it was for the benefit of the consumers, but it was so they can double their moolah intake). We were exhausted, but tomorrow was The Magic Kingdom – and I was determined to see my plans to fruition.

Our hotel was about 20 minutes away from The Magic Kingdom. They offered a “free shuttle” that left at 7 am and dropped everyone off at Epcot (which I was informed is the center hub for all Disney park transportation). Thought we’d save a few bucks and not use a taxi or Uber. Sounded perfect – The Kingdom opens at 8, leave at 7, arrive between 7:30-7:45, scan our tickets, and we would be in! Everyone had advised us to get there right as the park opens, and you can experience at least 3 major rides before the crowd hits. That advice combined with 3 Fastpasses – I envisioned myself joyfully singing, “Yo-ho, Yo-ho, a Pirate’s Life for Me!” We had the potential of enjoying 6 major rides before the clock struck noon – boom!

The trend of the majority of my plans not going as I had hoped once again began to rear its ugly head. I first became suspicious when our “shuttle” was a giant charter bus. “Wow, that’s nice of them to provide such a big bus for one hotel” I thought in my ever increasingly fatigued, naive, and delusional mind. Even though we are not Orlando residents, after about 10 minutes we noticed, “Hey, this isn’t the route to the park.” The bus, oh excuse me – the “shuttle” literally made 7 stops at other hotels before Epcot. The driver dropped us off around 8:15 am in an empty parking lot the size of the poppy field in The Wizard of Oz. It took about a 10 minute walk to get to the Monorail. Phew, finally made it. Oh, but wait – you have to get off this Monorail and transfer to another one. Stood in line for about 15 minutes. Rumors circulated throughout the tense crowd that there was a delay.  We waited about 15 more minutes to get on a ferry headed for Disney World. 20 more minutes on the boat ride – and we finally arrived at the entrance around 9:15 am. We soon discovered that half of humanity had already beaten us to the ride (and food) lines – realizing it’s not really such a Small World After All. As the day unfolded, I soon began to fully immerse myself into the spirit of the dwarf Grumpy – along with some of his lesser known brothers: Pushy, Pouty, and Rudey.

A few days after we returned home – I had some quality time to reflect. I then realized that one of the most important events of our trip was that crummy shuttle ride. That experience served as a great reminder of what it is like to walk with God. So many unplanned stops along the way that test my patience. Not having control over situations and just having to go with the flow. Disappointment. People getting on my nerves. Me getting on people’s nerves. Unexpected barriers and delays that get in the way of me reaching my envisioned destination.  Which leads to the question we can ask in every situation: Is my envisioned destination His envisioned destination?

Plus, I had so much to be thankful for. We were able to save up for the trip instead of charging everything. I could have been stuck in that ER for days, or possibly have had to have surgery, or it could have been “The Big One”. The family had several spontaneous moments of belly busting laughter. A ticket snafu that “entitled” us to 3 anytime any ride Fastpasses at Disney Hollywood Studios. And finally, embracing every second of having lunch in Epcot Italy knowing that my daughter is only a few months away from going to college.

This trip was a continual reminder that I want comfort, control, and predictability. God offers wild, uncomfortable uncertainty – covered with many promises that He will be with us every step of the way. May your journey find you somewhere between the happy medium of planning and pants flying 🙂

P. S. If you haven’t already, please check out my newest book Five Toughest Decisions Teens Make. It was written for young adults and the people who influence them. Available at amazon.com or the Store page on this website 🙂

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It’s Tough Being A Teen Today

updated-5-teens-cover-photo

*This devotional/faith-based book came from my burden regarding the incredible pressures teens are under, and the insecurities and uncertainties I battled with at that age. Here is a quote from Tough Guys and Drama Queens by Mark Gregston that I used in the book:

Their world is different, so their responses are different. What was abnormal to our generation has become their normal. What was unacceptable to us has become acceptable to them. Our blushing has become their humor. Because of repeated overexposure, teens have become numb to images and words that once aroused and offended people. They don’t understand why parents make such a big deal over something that, in their world is ordinary. They dislike when parents question their standards and interpret their parents’ attempt to curb their digital intake and verbal output as an effort to curb their social interaction. (Pg. 32)

*This book took over two years for me to finalize from the jotting down of notes until the 6th submission (ugh!) for “Interior Review” to Amazon. The chapters were intentionally kept short with subtitles for a quick, and hopefully impactful read.

*The book’s audience can be adults, pre-teens, teenagers, or college students (okay, everyone except toddlers) 🙂 It may be used as an individual or group read, extended study, youth group series, or possibly a give away to a young adult looking for answers in one of the key areas mentioned in the book. I wanted people to be able to hand it to someone and say something like, “Hey, would you read Chapter 2 about dating and marriage, and then we can talk about it later?”

*Many thanks to Kelly Rische and Amber Wynn for editing, proofreading, and helping me expand my vocabulary 🙂

*The book is available on my Store page, online from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or directly from this Amazon Create Space store page link:

https://www.createspace.com/5000115

*Please let me know what you think through comments, Facebook, or email david.rische@gmail.com

Thanks & blessings to you 🙂

 

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The End of the World – Pompeii Version . . .

volcano-1803865__3401On August 24, AD 79 – the residents of the ancient city of Pompeii literally did not know what hit them. The word “volcano” was not even in their vocabulary at the time. According to historical evidence and recorded testimonies, something deadlier than lava projected from the core of the mountain including superheated gas, magma, and ash that formed a giant towering column that built up into the sky. The magma eventually cooled and then fell to the earth as pumice stones. Unfortunately, mixed in with the pumice stones were lithic – cold, dense rocks torn from inside the volcano and carried up into the atmosphere only to fall back to earth as deadly missiles travelling at speeds reaching 110 mph. Within 18 hours, the entire city and its inhabitants were buried under the debris that had spewed from Mount Vesuvius. The mountain hadn’t erupted for over 1,800 years – no one could possibly have foretold the disaster that happened on that fateful day. Ash fall from Vesuvius was later traced as far away as Africa.
Pompeii was first uncovered in 1594, although archaeological excavations only began in 1748 and have slowly continued since then. A massive area has now been excavated; however, even today, more than a quarter of Pompeii still awaits excavation.
Those investigating this disaster had to piece together the evidence of who these people were, how they spent their final hours and why they had chosen to stay in Pompeii rather than flee when the eruption began. Eventually, clues started to come from the victims themselves. Many of the victims discovered in Pompeii were old, young, sick and, in some cases, pregnant. So the team concluded that escape for the most vulnerable had simply been too dangerous. Other victims have been found clutching bags of gold and other precious objects, so some people had probably tried to return to the city to retrieve their valuables.  (www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressrelease/stories/…/09/…/pompeii.pdf)
That last sentence strikes at the core of my heart:

Other victims have been found clutching bags of gold
and other precious objects . . .

The following questions are somewhat troubling: What would I be clutching? What would you be clutching? Am I trying to scare you with the story of Pompeii? Truth be told – yes, a little bit. After reflecting on the story, we are challenged with one more question: Who or what will be at the center of my life?

Want more???  This is from the first chapter of my brand new devotional book, Five Toughest Decisions Teens Make. Available from this website, Amazon, or other fine online outlets on March 2nd 🙂

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Back To The Basics

chess-1697133__3401Once again, it was another mad rush of a holiday season. New Year’s Resolutions are probably broken or forgotten. There’s a good chance our goals have been compromised. Decorations and lights are now crammed away in storage.  However, I realized something different this year. Even before the stores started stocking up for Christmas during the month of July, a familiar theme seems to be crying out to be noticed:

The Return to Simplicity

Think about it . . .

*Why was the original Nintendo system the hottest consumer item?

*Turntables and albums are now once again cool to own.

*Coloring books are everywhere!

*”Settlers of Catan” continues to be the most popular board game in the world.

*A few months ago, children and adults were clamoring to get outside, interact, and experience the nostalgia of “Pokeman Go.”

*The Minimalist Movement continues to pick up momentum and membership every year.

*”Tiny Houses” – one of the most popular cable shows, and the downsizing trend is picking up steam. 

Could it be we need a break from all the screen time? Has the frantic pace of life finally worn us out? Why upgrade to a new phone or game system? It will easily be replaced with a newer model in 1-2 years, if not sooner.

Are you concerned because you can’t keep up with the Jones’? Don’t worry, last I heard The Jones’ have moved, defaulted on their payments, and filed for bankruptcy.

I’ve enjoyed board games ever since I was a kid. I took notice this year how much fun we had playing games instead of watching a game or movie on television. The results of simply gathering around a table were conversations, laughter, seeing the competitive side of people, smack talk, formed and broken alliances, occasional higher level thinking, strategies revealed, and the gift of being present with one another.

Give it a try:  Slow down. Go back to a hobby that you use to lose track of time over. Create something. Draw or paint. Play a game with your family or friends. Get together with someone instead of texting them. I think you’ll be surprised, and want more of jumping on the simplicity bandwagon.

” . . . In quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

” . . .  Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)

 

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