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Makeover My Attitude Challenge:Honor the Sacred Ordinary,Wk. 4

Life is a spell so exquisite that everything aspires to break it.
~Emily Dickinson~

There is so much magic in the sacredness of our ordinary life. We just have to wake up to what we have and nurture a heart attitude of gratitude for the life that we are living and the many blessings that are present in our life, right now, today.

The happiest people I know are those who are fully convinced in their own minds that honoring the sacred ordinary gives them a reason to rejoice and be glad in the blessings of each day. The most significant gifts in life are often those easily overlooked. These gifts that I call “grace-filled moments” are reflected in the blessing of good health, music that stirs our soul, laughter that swells our heart with joy, good times with family and friends, and the ability to start over with second chances.

We are able to initiate these “grace-filled moments” in many ways, from giving someone a bear hug when they’re feeling down in the dumps, smiling at a stranger to acknowledge and show respect for their humanness, to taking the time out to encourage a family member or friend going through a difficult period in life. As Anne Morrow Lindbergh observed, “Only when one is connected to one’s own core is one connected to others…” Honoring the sacred ordinary involves paying attention to the small stuff in life. At the end of the day, it’s the small stuff that matters most to our spiritual, mental, emotional and physical well-being.

Are You Consumed by the Trinity of All-American Pursuits?
Honoring the sacred ordinary of your life requires that you maintain an active awareness of “grace–filled moments” in your life. This can be a challenge to the most faithful among us because of a pervading sense of discontent that has consumed many of our lives. This collective sense of discontent has created the trinity of all-American pursuits – wanting, seeking and acquisition. This constant “hermit wheel of wanting more” in our society keep us on a rat-race of chasing the next “thing” and imprisoned to our desires. I have certainly been guilty of engaging in this automatic-pilot way of living. I'm aware of how personal, social and environmental influences steer us down this path. I am also aware of the freedom that exists when our wants are purpose-driven and not ego-driven.  
Max Lucado, author of Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Intended to Bear wrote this concerning this self-imprisonment, “No prison is so populated, no prison so oppressive, and, what’s more, no prison is so permanent. Most inmates never leave. They never escape. They never get released. They serve a life sentence in this overcrowded, under provisional facility.” He goes on to say, “The name of the prison? You’ll see it over the entrance. Rainbowed over the gate are four cast-iron letters that spell out its name: W-A-N-T. He asserts, “The prison of want. You’ve seen her prisoners. They are “in want”. They want something. They want something bigger. Nicer. Faster. Thinner. They want just one thing. One new car. One new house. One new spouse. And when they have “one” they will be happy. When they have the one. They will leave the prison. But then it happens. The new-car smell passes.  The new job gets old. The neighbor buys a larger television set. The new spouse has bad habits. The sizzle fizzles, and before you know it, another ex-con breaks parole and returns to jail.”

You are in prison to the trinity of all-American pursuits: wanting,seeking and acquisition, if you feel better ONLY when you are drinking, dressing, driving and digesting that which you believe is an indication of your self-worth. I have an abundance mentality, so I expect for you to strive to experience God’s best in your life. However, this prison of
W-A-N-T focuses solely on “What’s In It  Me?” The driving purpose behind it focuses your energies toward the accumulation of more things for the sake of  appeasing your ego. When one of the wealthiest men in history, John D. Rockefeller, died, his accountant was asked, “How much did John D. leave? The accountant’s reply, “All of it.” “Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand (Eccles 5:15 NIV).” 

This driving need to accumulate “more” external prizes keeps you on a never ending treadmill.  It prevents you from nurturing a heart attitude of gratitude and appreciation for what you do have, because the prison of W-A-N-T "thirst for more" can never be satisfied for the long-term. It robs you of honoring the sacred ordinary in your life, thus diminishing your ability to rejoice and be glad for each of the “grace-filled moments” that are apparent in your life on a daily basis.

Unless you choose to make up your mind to embrace the sacred ordinary in your life, the insatiable desire of “WANTING MORE” will continue to rob you of the happiness that is possible in your life. It prevents you from feeling satisfied with your life. This is often the result of beliefs and expectations about how you think life “should be”. When your reality does not align with your expectations it creates an inner angst. To calm this anxiety, you have to learn the importance of accepting and appreciating “what is” even while you are striving to create on purpose that which “can be”. 

In keeping with the purpose of the Makeover My Attitude Challenge, I’m sharing the following story of Charles Darrow to show you that with the proper attitude even during the most challenging of situations you can honor the sacred ordinary and create a gracious space for more “grace-filled moments” in your life.

A Gift from the Scrape Pile

 Charles Darrow was out of work and as poor as a pauper during the Depression, but he kept a smile on his face and a positive attitude after standing in the unemployment line all day. He knew how powerful his attitude affected his wife. Expecting their first child, he didn’t want his wife to feel discouraged amid the circumstances. He wanted her to maintain a mind of hopefulness.

In his younger years, Darrow had enjoyed happy family vacations in nearby Atlantic City and he drew on those memories to keep his spirit high. He developed a little game on a square piece of card board. Around the edges he drew a scene of “properties” named after the streets and familiar places he and his family visited during their summer vacations.  He carved little houses and hotels out of the scrapes of wood, and he and his wife played the game each evening, they pretended to be rich, buying and selling property and “building” homes and hotels like extravagant tycoons. On those long, dark evenings, this impoverished couple honored the sacred ordinary by filling their home with the sound of laughter and playfulness.

Charles Darrow didn’t set out to become a millionaire when he developed “Monopoly” the game that would later be marketed around the world by Parker Brothers, but that’s what happened. Honoring the sacred ordinary of his childhood summer vacations inspired him to create from scraps of cardboard and tiny pieces of wood a simple game to keep his wife’s spirits up during a Depression-era pregnancy. His heart of gratitude towards the good that had occurred in his life encouraged their faith and nurtured a resilient mindset within them. This gift of gratitude and resiliency came back to them in bountiful riches.

Awakening to What You Have

 Living a life that honors the sacred ordinary provides you with opportunities on a day- to- day basis, to maintain an active awareness of how to take the ordinary in your life and make it extraordinary. Extraordinary in the sense that, the actions that you take are significant in having a positive impact on your life and in the lives of others. Developing a daily practice of honoring the sacred ordinary cultivates an appreciation and a positive regard for the “here and now”. This state of mindfulness fosters a space in your heart that nurtures gratitude for the life you are living and the many blessings present, today, in your life.

The wisdom of honoring the sacred ordinary is echoed by Francis of Assisi’s Serenity Prayer: “God give us the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other.”

In honoring the sacred ordinary, you can begin to embrace your everyday life with more gratitude and appreciation for the gifts of “grace-filled moments” that dwell in today. Honoring the sacred ordinary as a daily practice through acts of faith, generosity, love, kindness and compassion enhances your sense of well-being, and reduces the angst of the never ending treadmill of “wanting more and more and more”.  As a result, you will feel better and enjoy more of the blessings and abundance that God has stored up for you to experience as you exhibit your faith towards His faithfulness.

Makeover My Attitude Challenge Week 4: 

During this week’s challenge, you are encouraged to honor the sacred ordinary in your day to day life. Mindfulness helps you to develop the practice so that you remain awaken to what you have. I want to be clear about this week’s challenge, in “no” way am I implying that you should “accept” the status quo in any area of your life when you believe in your heart that “better” is possible. What I am emphasizing in this week’s challenge is that “better” does not have to be defined only by possessions and other external factors. It is possible to live life with a contentment that comes from a peace of mind that is not constantly stressed and anxious over the past, the future and a never ending desire for more.

“Clue-In” Prompt:

Sue Monk Kidd wrote in Firstlight, “The constant noise and chatter, internal and external, causes us to lose touch with the center of our being. When that happens, we become caught up in all kinds of unimportant things. Many of us even cling to this pollution of noise because it drowns out painful hungers inside.”

In this week’s “clue-in” prompt, set aside 30 minutes each day to stop and sit in silence. During these 30 minutes, you are going to be in search of the good stuff in your life. I want you to journal about “what went well” for you that particular day in your life. Write your notes specific enough that if you were to share them with someone, your journal notes would provide mental images and stir up positive emotions within the reader.

“Power Moves” Prompt:

Answer the following questions:

1.      How did you feel after writing about the good stuff happening in your life?
2.      How has focusing on “what went well” on each day of this week shifted your attitude?
3.      How can you integrate this daily practice of identifying “what went well” for you into your daily life? Do it.

“Teachable Moment” Prompt:

During this week, I want you to share your journal notes with the people who helped to create those “what went well” experiences in your life. You can do it in person, email, note card or letter. Express your appreciation for how they are depositing good in your life.


I would like to thank those of you who have engaged the Makeover My Attitude Challenge for the past three weeks. Your comments has inspired me to improve the quality of my blog posts while helping me make a difference in the lives of others. I am appreciative of each and everyone of you.

This week I leave you with this old Hasidic story:

A rabbi asked his students a question: “When does night end and day begin?” Is it the moment you can see the difference between an olive tree and a fig tree?” one student asked. “No” said the rabbi. “That’s not it.” “Is it the moment you can tell the difference between a sheep and a dog?” asked another. The rabbi shook his head. “No, that’s not it either. Rather, it is the moment you look at the face of a stranger and recognize that it is really the face of your brother.”

It’s Your Move ~ Aspire Higher

References: A Gift from the Scrape Pile story was adapted from the essay written by Barbara Johnson in the book, We Brake for Joy (Zondervin)

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