Archive for the 'Living Joyously' Category

THURSDAY THOUGHT 3/24/16 — I GOT YOU, GOD

March 24, 2016 on 10:06 am | By | In In God's Pocket, Living Joyously | Comments Off on THURSDAY THOUGHT 3/24/16 — I GOT YOU, GOD

Sonny_And_CherOne of my first major disappointments in life took place when both The Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel split up in 1970. My faith in the permanence of life was further challenged when Sonny and Cher divorced in 1975.  By then, my personal philosophy was:  Blessed be he who expects nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.

 I think we’ve all been disappointed in life — from relationships to heroes to jobs to the fact that we all get old and the inevitability of gravity becomes apparent. Only one thing has proven to have staying power: the power and promise of God.

My point:  When we open our hearts and let the Lord in, life makes sense. And, no, it’s not about demanding a pony and then whining because God has something better in mind. It’s about when we learn to truly trust and accept that God is the real deal, honest and perpetually constant and reliable, when we can say, “I got you, God,” that is the day all disappointments end.  Just trust. — JRI   

’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says

the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not

for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”

  • Jeremiah 29: 11

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, I recall casting about for something to believe in. My faith had faded away from an indifferent church and a God who seemed very, very remote.  And I was never very big on trusting people.  So, like so many others, I focused on being part of something – whether it was pride in attending The Ohio State University or, eventually, being a committed Green Bay Packers fan.  I also put my faith in science and my own rational powers and mental skills.  However, it wasn’t until I was able to believe and believe in Jesus Christ that everything made true sense, that I knew I would not be disappointed.  (I mean, even The Packers let me down from time to time.)  God answered my prayers and my questions, put me in a wondrous, peaceful marriage with Susan, and He reminds me, sometimes daily, that He will do it His way, and it will all be okay if we just trust.  I got God … and God’s got me.

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

March 24, 2016

WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 7/22: MUNDANE MIRACLES

July 22, 2015 on 9:25 am | By | In Living Joyously | Comments Off on WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 7/22: MUNDANE MIRACLES

THANKFULNESS

We have it made! Just think about this tiny list of our everyday, mundane blessings: We flip a switch, and we have light, heat, air conditioning (Oh, thank you, Lord, for the AC in Georgia in Jool-eye.) We turn a faucet, and, as if by magic, water pours out … both hot and cold. Awesome! We open the refrigerator and the pantry and, well, holy cow! Our biggest food decision is not where we will find anything to eat this day, but which foods to eat. (And maybe we should cut back, because we’re getting a bit too chubby.)

But wait! There’s more! We don’t HAVE to walk anywhere. We can get into a car, turn a key and drive. (Sure, that beater of a car may be old, but it runs … well, most of the time.) When out and about, unless we act real stupid, we have no fear of being arrested (yes, even if we’re black). Also, there is little risk of being attacked and harmed. We can curse out the government, even the president, and we cannot be arrested. Freedom! If we do get in trouble, we cannot just be thrown into a cell for months to rot. We have due process through the right to a timely and public trial (no secret trials behind closed doors). These things are unheard of in much of the world!

And there’s more? Really? You bet. When we get sick or injured, we have this incredible healthcare system. Life expectancy in 1900 in America was under 50 years of age. (I recall my grandparents seeming very old in their 60s.) Today, thanks to antibiotics, new drugs, incredible, computer-assisted surgery, and more, life expectancy in the U.S. is around 82 years. That’s a 32-year increase since my grandparents were children!

My point:  Holy mackerel! We should be walking around with big freaking grins, ear to ear, all the time! So, the next time you flush the toilet, say, “Thank you, Lord.” Walk into the doctor’s office and say, “Thank you, Lord.” Walk into the grocery store, stroll down the aisles, just shake your head in awe as you look at the amazing choices on the shelves, and say, “Thank you, Lord.” – jri

“Thank God for this gift too wonderful

for words.”

                 –2 Corinthians 9:15

Before eating (though I sometimes forget when I am alone), Susan and I try to remember to thank God for the gift of each meal. We do this each time we eat at home. We have also become comfortable doing it in restaurants, as have other friends with us. (If you know Larry Green, imagine him and me holding hands, bowing our heads, and giving thanks.) People sometimes watch and sometimes make positive comments. I guess it is a form of witnessing. But all we intend is to make sure we remember that we appreciate that all we have – all of it, without exception – comes from God. Amen.

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

July 22, 2015

WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 5/27/15

May 27, 2015 on 8:52 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness, Living Joyously | Comments Off on WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 5/27/15

OVERCOMING OUR PASTS

Yes, we do tend to reflect our parents’ characters and influence.  If Dad couldn’t hold down a job, odds are we too will have a lousy work ethic.  If Mom beat us, odds are that we will be violent parents.  If our folks were emotionally cold or highly critical, odds are that we will have poor self-esteem and often feel we are worthless, never quite good enough.

It doesn’t have to be like that.  God set us free from the bondage of our parents’ sins.  We are free to be the person the Lord wants us to be and to reach our full potential as His children.  Those chains can be broken.

My point:  Do not let your past determine your future.  Turn your fears, your doubts, and your anxieties over to God.  He has plans for you, and those plans are to not be pulled down by the past.  Just ask.  Just trust.  He cares.  – jri

“’What?’ you ask.  ‘Doesn’t the child pay for the

parents’ sins?’  No!  For if the child does what

is just and right and keeps my decrees, that

child will surely live.  The person who sins is

the one who will die.  The child will not be

punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent

will not be punished for the child’s sins. 

Righteous people will be rewarded for their

own righteous behavior, and wicked people

will be punished for their own wickedness.  But

if wicked people turn away from all their sins

and begin to obey my decrees and do what is

just and right, they will surely live and not die.

All their past sins will be forgotten, and they

will live because of the righteous things they

have done.”

                        – Ezekiel 18:19-22

 

“You’re just like your father/mother!” is a curse (the gravest insult) sometimes spit out by an angry parent or spouse.  My father was emotionally cold to the point of cruelty.  In a sense, I was raised in the cage with the wire monkey (versus the one with the fur-covered stuffed animal).  I grew up shy and totally lacking in self-confidence.  So what?  I addressed the issues.  Through my determination and the help of the Lord, I turned it around.  My weaknesses became my strengths.  I broke the chains and shed the sins of the father.  If I can, you can, too.

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

May 27, 2015

WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY 3/18-19/15

March 18, 2015 on 7:55 pm | By | In Faith & Forgiveness, In God's Pocket, Living Joyously | Comments Off on WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY 3/18-19/15

WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?

One of the cornerstones of marketing is:  WIIFM?  That’s how businesses sell products to consumers.  This will save/make ME money; make MY teeth brighter or my butt firmer; get ME the girl/boy; give ME power and prestige; make ME the envy of my friends (and enemies; yes, definitely, my enemies); make ME live longer, love longer, look better; or just make ME feel better about myself.  ME!  ME!  ME!

Well, then, this Jesus the Christ comes along and gets it all backwardsHe was supposed to be a thundering, roaring emperor of the world on a white stallion (not a donkey!) who commanded unbeatable armies, wreaked revenge on all our enemies, made the naysayers and doubters tremble and repent.  Go, God! 

But, no, He shows up in some Fourth World outpost of the Roman Empire, talks about forgiveness of one’s enemies (like that’s gonna work, right?), kneels down and washes His followers’ feet (like that’s gonna get you respect and power, JC), and doesn’t do a thing to straighten out the Roman soldiers and local yahoos who spit on Him, beat Him, and nail Him to a tree like He’s some uppity black boy in Louisiana in the 1920s in need of a good lynching.  

My point:  What if He got it right?  Love your neighbor?  Love your enemies?  Seriously.  Give your life for people who are too self-absorbed chasing after the WIIFM things of this world to even notice, let alone say thank you.   Maybe that is how you conquer and save the world.  Maybe?  I think so.  – jri

But God chose the foolish things

of the world to shame the wise;

God chose the weak things of the

world to shame the strong.

                  ~ 1 Corinthians 1:27

 Years ago I was a devoted, dedicated follower of Ayn Rand, who believed that our first, last, and only loyalty should be to ourselves.  I was wrong … and, no, smart alecks, don’t ever expect to hear that from me again.  Today, as the sign says outside The Highlands United Methodist Church in Gainesville, Georgia, “Love God, serve people.”  I now know I wasn’t put on this earth to amass wealth and power, but to serve those who struggle –spiritually, financially, emotionally.  And as a result, I’ve never been wealthier.  What a strange God we follow.  — jri 

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections
4279 Hunter Road
Gainesville, GA 30506
March 18-19, 2015

 

MONDAY THOUGHT 3/2/15

March 2, 2015 on 11:04 am | By | In Living Joyously | Comments Off on MONDAY THOUGHT 3/2/15

UNSUITABLE PLAYMATES

“Sleep with dogs and you’ll get fleas,” my mother used to tell me, referring to some of the unsavory companions of my youth.  Over the years (yes, Mom, I heard you), I did learn to avoid dishonest, immoral, amoral, and unreliable types.

Well, Susan and I decided that the same goes for what we watch.  Last year, we started watching the Mad Men series on Netflix.  Though brilliant and well-done, the show’s characters were all morally bankrupt, not the kind of people we’d have over to our house for dinner.  We stopped watching.  More recently, we started the Dennis Leary series, Rescue Me.  Though very creative, every one of the show’s characters lies, cheats, steals, denigrates women, etc.  Again, we stopped watching.  On a positive note, we began watching the Tom Selleck series, Blue Bloods.  Not only were the good guys unwaveringly good, with solid principles, but they had a big Irish family dinner together every Sunday and, gasp, even said grace before the meal.  In a sense, the members of this family became part of our family.

My point:  No, I’m not a prude, and I will not attempt to tell you what to watch.  However, isn’t life too short to waste spending time with trash and hanging out with people who you’d never invite into your house?  Choose your television viewing and movies with thought.  – jri

I will refuse to look at

     anything vile or vulgar.

I hate all who deal crookedly;

     I will have nothing to do with them.”

                   ~ Psalm 101:3

Since I am working on a book about sex trafficking, I cannot help but take the leap from prime time television to pornography.  Porn is a biz built on supply and demand, and the demand is high, frighteningly high.  Every time someone clicks on a porn site, another young girl or child is kidnapped, lured, or outright sold into this brutal modern-day slavery.  (Sex trafficking is a booming multi-billion-dollar business.  According to UN statistics, over the last 30 years, an estimated 30 million children have been sexually exploited through human trafficking, some as young as five and six years old.)  Who we hang around with, what we watch, and what sites we click on, they do make a difference not just in our lives, but also in the lives of others.

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

4279 Hunter Road

Gainesville, GA 30506

March 2, 2015

 

MONDAY THOUGHT 2/23/15

February 23, 2015 on 1:52 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness, Living Joyously | Comments Off on MONDAY THOUGHT 2/23/15

JUST TRUST

Joy!”  That was the answer I gave the other day when asked to describe the emotion that best describes me.  Susan and I are retired and enjoying our wondrous free time together.  I have had my first novel accepted for publication, and I am about to finish my second (and I believe, a much better) novel, fulfilling my lifelong desire to be a “real” writer (not just a word hack).  Susan and I pray and study scripture together each morning and have pleasant chats with God and each other.  We belong to a faith community and, after years of loneliness, have friends who seem to truly love us, or in my case, to at least politely put up with me.  (“God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy” – Psalm 68:6)  We have health.  We have peace.  We have wondrous children and grandchildren.  Oh, and, yes, we have love and patience and respect and laughter.  We have gorgeous sunrises, jigsaw puzzles, and daily visits by cardinals, mourning doves, and other birds that we call friends.  We are blessed far, far, far beyond what we deserve.

Best of all, we are grateful.  Yes, every morning, we wake up grateful and joyful.  It took decades of struggling and suffering and loneliness, and trusting beyond common sense or reason in God’s promise to, as I am wont to say – just trust! – to bring us where we are today.  I look back at where I’ve been, and I am in awe.  An awesome life.

My point:  Again, just trust.  If you believe in this God of ours, believe that He is watching over us.  Always!  Today’s suffering and struggles will become tomorrow’s joy and peace.  God does it all in His sweet time … but he does it.  He does not abandon us.  He is with us.  For Susan and me, God made the suffering and tough past times sweet.  Were it not for the challenges, we just might not appreciate the blessings today. — jri    

Always be full of joy in the Lord.  I say it

again – rejoice!  Let everyone see that

you are considerate in all you do.  Remember,

the Lord is coming soon.  Don’t worry about

anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell

God what you need, and thank him for all he

has done.  Then you will experience God’s

peace, which exceeds anything we can

understand.  His peace will guard your hearts

and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

                   ~ St. Paul (Philippians 4:4-7)

I vividly recall the darkest days – one marriage dead, the second beyond life support, my wealth disappearing, and friends few and far between.  I’d get up every morning, make the coffee, let out the dog, and open my Bible and pray.  I saw no relief, no solution, but I trusted and prayed.  And all I know is that God answered my prayer (“God, please give me strength, faith, and guidance”; that was my prayer).  Today?  Again, I can only use one word: JOY!  How?  I have no idea.  That’s why I say, Trust.  Just trust! God has awesome things in store for us.  Just believe.  Just trust!

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

4279 Hunter Road

Gainesville, GA 30506

February 23, 2015

WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 2/18/15

February 18, 2015 on 5:29 pm | By | In In God's Pocket, Living Joyously | Comments Off on WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 2/18/15

IT’S NOT THAT I NEED GOD

Ever meet the smirkers who look at you like you’re a pathetic dolt and say something like, “Well, good for you if it gives you comfort to believe in a god to get by”?  (Sounds like Karl Marx’s brilliant comment:  “Religion is the opiate of the people.”)

No, it’s not about needing a god.  It’s about whether one exists.  But here’s the funny part:  You cannot read a book or study science to discover God.  He’s not out there somewhere.  He’s inside us and all around us, waiting for us not to open a book, but to open our hearts and to discover something so awesome that there is no mistaking the veracity of it.  Truth. 

My pointYes, there is a God (and He’s a big capital G God).  Oh, and, yes, we need Him, but we do not wish/need Him into existence.  He is.  If you haven’t found Him yet, keep looking.  It’s well worth the search.  Just ask anyone who has found Him.  – jri

I see that the Lord is always with me.

     I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.

     My body rests in safety.” 

                  ~ King David (Psalm 16:8-11)

During my atheist/agnostic days, there were times when my soul was so bruised that I was desperate for a god.  However, I never gave in and invented one based on my need.  I’m sure that, in the words of Voltaire, “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”  That, however, is NOT why I believe in God.  I believe in God because He is.  I know Him and do not need to prove His existence.  Better idea:  If you don’t believe in God, you prove to me He does not exist.

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections
4279 Hunter Road
Gainesville, GA 30506
February 18, 2015

 

TUESDAY THOUGHT 1/27/15

January 27, 2015 on 11:05 am | By | In In God's Pocket, Living Joyously | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 1/27/15

AWED BY GOD’S HANDIWORK

It was going to be a long night.  Rascal, our new pup, had a bad case of intestinal upset (aka “da ska-verts,” as my Norwegian-American friends would say back in Wisconsin).  Four times that night, I rose from my bed to get Rascal outside.  I was tired and feeling anything but joyful.  Though a bit chilly, the night was still and clear, not that I noticed at first.

And then I looked up.  Caught by awe, I stood there with my mouth open!  The silent, black sky was peppered with millions of stars, from horizon to horizon.  Without even thinking, I mumbled a brief prayer:  “Thank you, Lord.”  My heart filled with a vast stillness and overflowed with gratitude for the majesty of what I was witnessing – not just the night sky, but God’s awesome handiwork in having created it.

My point:  God’s beauty surrounds us.  Even on the darkest of nights (in this case, because it was the darkest of nights), we are blessed by His wondrous majesty.  All we have to do is open our hearts and our eyes, and we will experience it when we least expect it.  – jri

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.

     The skies display his craftsmanship.

Day after day they continue to speak;

     night after night they make him known.

They speak without a sound or word;

     their voice is never heard.

Yet their message has gone throughout

          the earth,

     and their words to all the world.”

~ Psalm 19:1-4

I used to love the big, loud, showy, bodacious miracles.  These days, more and more, I have grown to stand in awe, appreciation, and wonder at the little ones.  Several days ago, Susan brought home a hyacinth bulb, wrapped in its green leaves, its roots in a glass vase.  Over several days, buds began to grow up out of the center.  (Imagine that, the buds came from nothing but some water and sunlight.)  Then yesterday everything burst open in silent beauty, as dozens of pink, six-petaled flowers appeared on the stem, while the area around the flower was filled with a rich yet delicate aroma.  “…yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are” (Luke 12:27).  Awesome.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

4279 Hunter Road

Gainesville, GA 30506

January 27, 2015

TUESDAY THOUGHT 1/20/15

January 20, 2015 on 11:09 am | By | In Living Joyously | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 1/20/15

GOOD BOY

We got a puppy the other day.  As part of the training process, we spend a lot of time saying, “Good boy!” — when he comes, when he sits, when he pees and poops outside, when he doesn’t pee or poop inside, when he stops biting our fingers or toes, etc.  Rascal, who is on his way to becoming a well-trained dog, is going to have the highest self-esteem of anyone in our family, maybe in the county.

We should be so good to people!  Many of us ration out kind words like they’re too precious to spare.  Or we look for teachable moments (here’s what you could have done better) rather than opportunities to compliment and uplift (that was a great try; you’ll get it next time).     

My point (and this one comes with a homework assignment):  People remember, cherish and respond to kind, supportive words.  With a (sincere) compliment, you can make their day and maybe even change their lives.  So, here’s the assignment:  Tell at least two people close to you today (A) how nice they look, (B) how much you appreciate them, or (C) and just how special they are to you.  – jri

I can live for two months on a

good compliment.”

~Mark Twain

Susan – the sweetest, prettiest, most loving woman I know – is crazy about me.  How do I know?  Well, every now and then, she pauses in the middle of something she is doing and tells me, “John, you are a wonderful man.”  Now, let’s not debate whether or not it is true.  However, I want you to know that, no matter how many times she tells me, I break out into a huge grin and just about giggle like a schoolgirl.  (And yes, like Rascal, I wag my tail for the rest of the day.  Good boy.)

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections 4279 Hunter Road Gainesville, GA 30506 January 20, 2015

TUESDAY THOUGHT 1/6/15

January 6, 2015 on 11:42 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness, Living Joyously | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 1/6/15

OH, YEAH? TAKE THAT!

The car rental counter clerk was snarly like a North Korean customs’ agent.  “Driver’s license and credit card,” she snapped.  My pleasant holiday smile quickly turned into a frown as she ran almost angrily through the contract terms.  I was slowly pulling out and cocking my emotional shotgun.  I was getting ready to let her have it … with both barrels.

But then I reminded  myself (or was reminded) that (1) it was Christmas day and this woman was working when she would probably have rather been home or anywhere else, and (2) I just might want to put all that Christian love stuff I spout so freely to work for a change.  Though I wanted to strangle her, I put on my friendliest face, thanked her for working on Christmas, asked about her life, etc.  In short, I reached out.  At first, I was met by a determined scowl.  Eventually, however, she smiled back and began asking about our travel and family plans.  We had a nice chat.  Before leaving the counter, I gave her one of my pocket crosses, wished her a Merry Christmas and told her, “God bless.”  She smiled and said, “You, too.”

My point, two, actually:  First, we do not have to escalate every incident into a full-blown confrontation.  We do not have to let others control (and potentially ruin) our moods.  Second, and more importantly, we can make a difference in others’ lives.  That clerk and I could have growled at each other for ten minutes and made ourselves and each other miserable.  I’m pleased (okay, downright proud of myself) that I may have made a small difference in this woman’s life.  What we do counts!   – jri

We shall never know all the good

that a simple smile can do.”

  • Mother Theresa

Bonus:  As I blessed this woman, I was blessed in return tenfold.  I could have blown a gasket, snarled and yelled, taken names, threatened to make phone calls, made phone calls, been a real horses ass, taught her a thing or two, and absolutely destroyed my own attitude and mood, as well as made Wife Susan miserable, and maybe even slopped some of my bad cheer over onto my daughter and her family when we arrived at her house.  Instead, Susan and I got into our car in good moods.  I also suspect/hope that the rental car counter clerk paid it forward and was pleasant and helpful to her next customers.  Yes, we can make a difference.

John Ingrisano

4279 Hunter Road

Gainesville, GA 30506

www.dailyconnections.net

January 6, 2015

WEEKEND THOUGHT 1/2/15

January 2, 2015 on 7:47 pm | By | In Living Joyously | Comments Off on WEEKEND THOUGHT 1/2/15

OVER HERE, BABY

This one is not about God directly, but about one of the greatest gifts

God has given us.

 Last month, I witnessed something beautiful.  It lasted only a second, but it made my whole day.  I was doing some paperwork and enjoying a cup of coffee at a fast food restaurant.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an old couple.  Carrying their meal and leading the way to the table, he was moving slowly, cautious with every step.  She, partially bent, with a slight palsy, was inching along behind, relying heavily on a walker.  As I said, they were old.

It was what he said to her that gave me wondrous pause:   As he placed the food on the table, he turned to her and softly, tenderly said, “Over here, Baby.”  That’s what he said:  “Baby.”  She smiled, nodded, and kept inching along.  In my mind, I instantly saw a young couple, maybe in high school or college back in the 50s, dating or planning a wedding at which they would exchange vows to love, honor, and care for each other, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad.  And they had.

My point:  Just because the body ages, that does not mean love has to die or even grow old.  Our ability to love is the greatest gift God has given us.  — jri    

“Those who love deeply

never grow old;

they may die of old age,

but they die young.”

  • Benjamin Franklin

 

 Susan and I have been blessed with a Do Over or Third Life.  In love once and long ago, then separated for 45 years, there are times when our hearts and minds jump back and around in time.  Our bodies may look like they are in their 60s, but our hearts are still of those golly-gee kids giggling over our plans for the future.  The best is yet to come.

 

John Ingrisano
4279 Hunter Road
Gainesville, GA 30506
www.dailyconnections.net
January 2, 2015

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