Sometimes The Answer Is No

I like saying yes.
Perhaps that is because I am a pleaser at heart.
I also tend to root for the underdog in most situations.
I think that is why I am still a #mariners fan.

Today I have been hiking through the rural farming district of Tororo Uganda. My purpose here is to locate and assess potential water springs that my organization #planetchanger might protect in order to provide clean water for communities who have none.

My heart and soul long to say yes to every community I visit. As I hike down to the watering hole, women and children are scooping murky water and pouring it into a smattering of jerry-cans that lie around that they will then lug a great distance to their huts and homes.

When they see us arrive, their eyes light up with hope. Perhaps fewer babies will die, maybe fewer community members will get cholera or some of the sickness if we work with them to protect the spring and provide clean water.

I like saying yes.
But, sometimes, I have to say no.

Today, we were climbing down a bouldery hill into an area where people were collecting their water from a dirty spring, but that was all they had access to.

The hike was long and hot, the trail was small and awkward, and the spring site was really large. This would be a hard project for us to complete.

On the way to the spring, I passed by a series of graves. This one gave me a gut punch:

I “really” wanted to say yes to this project. No momma should have to lose a 1 one-year-old baby because of water sickness.

After the assessment was finished, it was clear that this water site would be too large for us to do. The cost would be huge, about 10 times the cost of a normal water project. The road needed to access the water spring was so bad that we could not get the bricks (hard-cores) and materials needed anywhere close to where they needed to be. When you operate on a small budget, sometimes you have to say no.

So, the answer to this one was no.

And that hurt my soul.

I paused as I walked back past the graves. Most of the people buried there we 36-42 years old. Also too young to die. I looked again at the grave of the one-year-old and said, “I’m sorry.”

I argue with God a lot in moments like this.

I wish I had been born into a family with millions, or, I figure God could at least throw me a PowerBall win so I could say yes to more projects that inspire hope and create healthy thriving communities. But I wasn’t, and the PowerBall hasn’t hit for me.

While visiting a potential water project site a young man named John Richard Omsungu said,

“You see our conditions in Africa. We are surviving on God’s nature (natural water supply). We need spring protection for clean water. Please, will you help us with getting clean water? 

While my NGO Planet Changer is small, and although we operate on a small budget, we have accomplished some amazing things that truly humble me.

Since 2011, we have protected approximately 50 springs in rural Uganda, bringing clean water to tens-of-thousands. Communities that are now healthier and have hope. Communities that have come together to help build their water system with our National staff creating sustainable solutions that they are proud of and helped create. That continues to inspire me.

So, I like to say yes.

Today I had to say no to some potential projects.

But, I also said yes to the next round of water systems that we will able to accomplish together with the people who will benefit from their creation.

Thank you for helping me say yes to as many opportunities as possible when you invest in what we do at www.planetchanger.org

Today I heard “thank you-thank you-thank you” from many men and women who we have partnered with to bring clean water to their communities. I tend to find myself saying the same words back to them back in these moments. “Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life. We are all one no matter where we are from, and at Planet Changer we know that #waterislife.

Together we are Inspiriting hope!

Generating Good

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Generosity is a brilliant word and a powerful concept. Kahlil Gibran states , “Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.” That is worthy of pondering for a bit.

From this word we understand other things better, like, generate, generator, generative.

Generosity generates something…
It creates something…
From nothing, generosity breathes life and regenerates something beautiful.

However, generosity is not simply about money and wealth. It is a lifestyle that is always humming with creative goodness that brings light to dark places, food to starving spaces and beauty to desolate places.

Steve Goodier sums up the scope well:

“Money is not the only commodity that is fun to give. We can give time, we can give our expertise, we can give our love or simply give a smile. What does that cost? The point is, none of us can ever run out of something worthwhile to give.”

Generosity also has the power to free us from a myopic life of self-everthing. Self-service, selfishness, self-reliance, self-worship. The worship of self has run across the borders of narcissism in our culture, and generosity has the ability to heal us of this most pernicious disease. The Buddha noted:

“Conquer the angry one by not getting angry; conquer the wicked by goodness; conquer the stingy by generosity, and the liar by speaking the truth.”

The following video is a commercial from Thailand…it reveals the power that a little generosity has to make the lives of others better, and when you do that you cannot escape the personal benefit generosity re-infuses into your own life.

That video causes an unsolicited smile to form on my lips…

Being generous feels good and the scientific stats reveal that generous people are healthier, happy and live longer lives that are worth living.

The Bible has scads of passages about generosity, here are a few to help you pray and invite a spirit of generosity into your life:

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Proverbs 11:25

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  2 Corinthians 9:7

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Luke 6:38 

Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. Psalm 112:5

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.  2 Corinthians 8:12

Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Luke 6:30

May you realize just how rich you really are and find yourself coming alive as you become a generous soul that gives especially when there is no chance of repayment.

Make A Choice

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Everyday we have a number of choices set before us. A choice is a spiritual portal, an opportunity to exercise either faith or fear. In so many ways the truth of the matter is that making a choice is often the most spiritual thing you do.

Each choice carries an incredible amount of potential. You can choose one way and move closer to God, or choose another way and move away from God. Choice is the gift of freedom, but it also requires faith if we are to stay aligned with God throughout the day and move towards a God-centric future.

It has been said that we are the sum total of the choices that we made 10+ years ago, and who we will be in 10 years will be a result of the choices that we make today. In this sense, choices will change your future. The question is, are you making the choices that will create the best future.

Tonight, I did some meditating on great quotes about choices.

May the following thoughts about choices from others inspire you to see each of your decisions as a divine opportunity to move closer to God and experience the life He created you for!

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“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” ~Theodore Roosevelt

“God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with him.” ~Jim Elliot

“Every choice you make has an end result.” ~Zig Ziglar

“Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” ~William Jennings Bryan

“Of the blessings set before you make your choice, and be content.” ~Samuel Johnson

“The remarkable thing is, we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.” ~Charles R. Swindoll

“Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious.” ~Bill Meyer (1892-1957);Baseball Manager, Coach

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ~Viktor Frankl

“Let us not be content to wait and see what will happen, but give us the determination to make the right things happen.” ~Peter Marshall

“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.” ~Rosa Parks

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” ~Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr

“What we call the secret of happiness is no more a secret than our willingness to choose life.” ~Leo Buscaglia

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” ~Buddha

“We are our choices.” ~Jean-Paul Sartre

“You cannot continue on the same path and arrive at a different destination. Make the choice to have your actions reflect your goals.” ~Steve Maraboli

“Far too many of us value the freedom to choose rather than the choices that make us free” ~Erwin McManus

“On a daily basis we’re faced with two simple choices. We can either listen to ourselves and our constantly changing feelings about our circumstances, or we can talk to ourselves about the unchanging truth of who God is and what He’s accomplished for us at the cross.” ~The Cross-Centered Life

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! ~Deuteronomy 30:19

“… choose this day whom you will serve … But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 25:15

5 Great Quotes About Community

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I have a love hate relationship with “community.”

As a person who falls a bit more into the introverted side of personality yet works as an ambivert (both intro and extroverted), choosing to connect is not always an easy choice. I recharge best alone, and living and working in a world of people I notice my energy levels deplete pretty fast. The last thing I want is to connect with more people.

However, I have also noticed a tendency towards depression when I choose to isolate too much, and it is actually people (community) that have been the key to re-infusing my energy levels, remind me what is true, and love me as I am…and this is life-giving.

Experiencing real community in a culture that is immersed in rabid individualism is rare and scary but oh so powerful. In community we cultivate our “others-ness” which opens the path of love that is only available when we are authentic, vulnerable and real. This creates a spiritual and emotional connection that is a greenhouse for affection, trust, risk, honesty and love…these things require that we open ourselves up in community, with-and-for-others, resulting in a mutual if not global effect.

Here are five great quotes I came across concerning community today…chew on them…

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
― John DonneNo man is an island 

 

“People use drugs, legal and illegal, because their lives are intolerably painful or dull. They hate their work and find no rest in their leisure. They are estranged from their families and their neighbors. It should tell us something that in healthy societies drug use is celebrative, convivial, and occasional, whereas among us it is lonely, shameful, and addictive. We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost each other.”
― Wendell BerryThe Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

 

“A community is only being created when its members accept that they are not going to achieve great things, that they are not going to be heroes, but simply live each day with new hope, like children, in wonderment as the sun rises and in thanksgiving as it sets. Community is only being created when they have recognized that the greatness of man is to accept his insignificance, his human condition and his earth, and to thank God for having put in a finite body the seeds of eternity which are visible in small and daily gestures of love and forgiveness. The beauty of man is in this fidelity to the wonder of each day.”
― Jean VanierCommunity And Growth

“Each of us must rededicate ourselves to serving the common good.  We are a community.  Our individual Fates are linked; our futures intertwined; and if we act in that knowledge and in that spirit together, as the Bible says: “We can move mountains.”
Jimmy Carter

 

“When I am with a group of human beings committed to hanging in there through both the agony and the joy of community, I have a dim sense that I am participating in a phenomenon for which there is only one word….”glory.”
M. Scott Peck

Healing Through Music: The View Down Here

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The most powerful songs find pain as their muse. My son Liam just posted a song he had been working on dealing with the loss of some people close to us. How do you express the pain you enter into when suicide has stolen a life?  How do you work through the loss of a life that has shaped you? Music has a way of helping us weave our way through the emotional journey. When Liam posted his song I took a listen and loved it. But what hit me more was the place in his soul where the song came from. Here is what he said about the song:

Written to commemorate those we have lost unexpectedly, and have impacted my life in radical ways. Rest in peace to Bill Bedell, Tyler Bushmiller, and Paul Lee. I miss you all so much.

Also to everyone else that I have lost under similar circumstances, but did not directly influence the creation of this song. Far from forgotten. Cody Botten, Berkely Repp, Josh Fisher, Don and Jean Shultz, Kirk Lewis, and oh so many more. Thank you all, for everything.

Take a listen…

Verse 1:
Somber melodies have brought me here,
And ones of hope have been unable
To lift me from this low
I think I’m alone,
The streets became wide,
And I’m stuck under this water, under this tide

Chorus:
Loneliness tastes like metal in my mouth,
And I constantly try to wash it out,
Ever since your one way ticket to the fields I don’t know
I’ve grown a bit older, but it’s colder below


Verse 2: 
Little did I know
That your presence everyday
Quietly meant everything
The day you were lost,
I learned the evils of Earth,
Fairness was a thing of our dreams
Chorus:
Loneliness tastes like metal in my mouth,
And I constantly try to wash it out,
Ever since your one way ticket to the fields I don’t know
I’ve grown a bit older, But it’s colder below
To say I miss you, To say that I missed a lot
To Say I miss you, To say that I missed a lot
(My opportunity slipped through my hands, like grains of sand)
2013 © Liam Wright Music
All Rights Reserved

credits

released 04 August 2014