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Activated January 2017

Optimism/New Year - January 2017

New resolutions. New possibilities. New beginnings. Get started on 2017!
 

01-01-2017
The Mountaintop
The Mountaintop

In his very last speech, given in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3, 1968, the day before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King imagined God asking him what era he would like to live in. He goes on to survey all of human history, starting with Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery, goes through Greece and Rome, the Renaissance and Reformation, the Emancipation Proclamation, and finally the very troubled times he lived in, when his country was full of hatred, injustice, and fear. Here is his reply:

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01-01-2017
Building a Life
Building a Life

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire, and he told his boss of his plans to leave and live a more leisurely life with his wife. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by. 

The contractor was sorry to see such a good worker go, and he asked the carpenter to build just one more house as a personal favor. 

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01-01-2017
On the Cusp of the Year
On the Cusp of the Year

When I come to the end of one year and am on the cusp of the next, I’m generally optimistic about what’s ahead. I like to rejoice in the victories of the past year, the progress made, the challenges overcome, and the joy experienced. I also try to set in the past those things which didn’t come to fruition—failures, unreached goals, unmet expectations—and start the new year with determination to do better, work smarter, progress more, and reach my goals.

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01-01-2017
The Bus Ride
The Bus Ride

One typical rainy spring evening in Rijeka, I was sitting on bus number 18 going home after a long day—at least, I thought it was bus 18. There were about 30 other passengers on the bus, equally tired and impatient to get home.

As we reached a crossroads, instead of turning right as usual, the bus took a left. Did I get on the wrong bus? I was about to ask when other passengers started shouting to the bus driver, “Where are you going?” So at least I was on the right bus after all.

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01-01-2017
Climbing the New Year
Climbing the New Year

Even the best climbers need guides when they climb unfamiliar mountains. In fact, only a foolhardy novice would try to go without one—a novice like me. 

Years ago, I was on vacation in Switzerland, and on the last day, a friend and I decided to climb a nearby mountain. 

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01-01-2017
YOLO or Carpe Diem?
YOLO or Carpe Diem?

Most people have heard the acronym “YOLO” thrown around for the past couple of years. It stands for “you only live once.” Pop stars and celebrities have made it a catchphrase to promote doing crazy things or taking risks because, hey, “You only live once!”

It’s an attractive thought. Why worry about the future? Why subscribe to having to answer for decisions we make when we can pretend it all doesn’t matter anyway? Why can’t we only be concerned about what makes us happy right now?

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01-01-2017
When Less Is More
When Less Is More

It’s a clichéd résumé line, but I’m a goal-oriented person. For as long as I can remember, I’ve set goals, and in particular New Year’s goals, and then worked to achieve them. A lot of New Year’s resolutions fail because they’re just things people say while caught up in a moment of passion (or guilt), only to soon forget or ignore. That isn’t the case for me. 

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01-01-2017
The Postman’s Palace
The Postman’s Palace

It was a simple, mundane life, the life of Ferdinand Cheval. He was born in 1836 in a village southeast of Lyon, France, where he attended school for only six years until he was orphaned as a young teenager.

Throughout his life he worked as a farmer, a baker, and finally a postman. In 1869, he requested and obtained a route known as the Tournée de Tersanne, delivering and picking up mail in the villages around Hauterives. He remained there until retirement, walking the 33 km (20 mile) route daily over 10,000 times.

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01-01-2017
First Day of School
First Day of School

New Year’s Day is sort of like the first day of school. It’s as though God gives us each a spotless new notebook, sharp new pencils, new textbooks full of new lessons, and a fresh start. Whether or not that comes as a happy thought to you probably depends on how well you did in the last grade, last year. If you excelled, you’re probably ready to greet the new year with high hopes and bring-it-on enthusiasm. If you just barely squeaked by, you probably feel something between jitters and trepidation.

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01-01-2017
Strawberries, Candles, and Resolutions
Strawberries, Candles, and Resolutions

It was a bright sunny day in South Africa, and the old year was coming to a close. Thoughts had turned from Christmas celebrations to New Year’s resolutions. 

The farmhouse door clanged behind me as I went into the kitchen. My mother followed my gaze to a heaping bowl of strawberries on the table. “Yvonna brought those over,” she said. “A gift from her family.” 

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01-01-2017
Past and Future
Past and Future

The New Year is a great time to take stock of the past year and set goals for the next. Here’s a spiritual exercise to that end. (You will need one large candle and one small one.) 

Begin by lighting the large candle, which represents Jesus, the light of the world. Read and think about these verses from the Bible: 

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01-01-2017
Happy New You!
Happy New You!

In this coming year, I can help you become more like you want to be. In fact, I can do better than that! I can help you become more like I want you to be.

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