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Being Thankful


Simposious wishes you a great Thanksgiving Day

Make thanks a part of every day

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“The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”Luke 19:10

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. A highly anticipated Christmas shopping trip to the mall with our kids and my parents took a dramatic turn for the worst as we suddenly realized that Matt, our five-year old, was nowhere to be found. With fears of kidnapping racing through our minds, we split up to search the mall for Matt. My assignment was the parking lot. In the grip of anxiety I made my way through the fresh fallen snow yelling, “Matt, Matt!” I have to tell you that I felt a little foolish. But being embarrassed by hollering in a parking lot was overshadowed by fears for my son and my need to find him.

But, after covering the territory, there was no sign of Matt. More concerned than ever, I went back into the mall to see if anyone else had spotted him. I was hoping beyond hope that either Martie or my mom had found him, but their search had turned up empty as well. Our sense of desperation was hitting new levels when my dad walked around the corner with Matt in hand. Overwhelmed with relief, we asked, “Hey, Dad, where did you find him?”

“At the candy counter,” he replied. “Little Matt had his hands behind his back and his eyes were right up at the level of the candy trays.” He didn’t even realize that he was lost! Nor did he have a clue about the kind of danger he was in.

Later I found myself reflecting on the experience and thinking that Matt reminded me of a lot of people who are without Christ as their Savior. Lost in the candy world of their lives, they have no idea of how lost they are or of the eternal danger they are in.

Today’s Scripture passage is actually the conclusion of the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus. As a tax collector, Zacchaeus had immersed himself in the pursuit of possessions, prosperity, and power. By the world’s standards he was doing okay. Sure, he wasn’t terribly well liked, but he had a sense of purpose, was achieving his goals, and thought he had life pretty well figured out. But, entranced by the “candy” of his own gain, he was flat out lost.

Jesus searched him out! Going out of the way to call him down from his perch in a sycamore tree, Jesus invaded his life, invited Himself over for dinner, and rescued Zacchaeus from the danger of his self-indulgent, selfish, sinful life. When the Pharisees grumbled about Jesus spending time with a tax-collector, Jesus reminded them that His purpose on earth was “to seek and to save what was lost.”

That’s where you and I are before Christ finds us and rescues us. Our preoccupation with the stuff of this world—money, power, sex, comfort, and ease—numbs us to the very real dangers of life without Christ. Without Him we are dangerously lost—and don’t even know it.

Thankfully, a gracious, compassionate God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pursue us, find us, and rescue us. That’s the reality of what we celebrate at Christmastime. And, don’t forget, once we are safely His, He sends us to search for others who are lost in “candy” world. So let’s steer their hearts away from the stuff of this world and help them find the real joy of Christmas.

“I have suffered much; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word.” Psalm 119:107

It was a beautiful day except for the fact that after a sizzling front nine, my golf game had tanked big time. I felt embarrassed in front of the two other guys I was playing with and really disappointed in myself. Why I tortured myself with golf and call it a game I’ll never know! But like a sports masochist, I keep going back for more pain.

As I was stuffing my clubs into the back of my car, trying to put on a good face, I was struck with the fact that I had just spent the afternoon with two guys who have problems that make my lame golf game look like a cakewalk.

Both of them have trouble on the home front, the kind of trouble that hurts the worst. Robert’s wife has been running him through the wringer of an excruciating divorce. It is something that he does not want and has tried for two agonizing years to turn around. She wants nothing to do with him or reconciliation.

My other golf buddy (the one who beat me mercilessly on the back nine) has been living for years with a situation at home that none of us would ever dream of enduring. His wife struggles with severe emotional imbalance and, though at one time was a follower of Christ, now wants nothing to do with Jesus or her husband. She still lives with her husband, so you can imagine what it means to walk into the house after a tough day at work to face a whole new set of challenges at home. He goes to church alone. He sleeps alone.

As I closed the back of my Tahoe, I noticed that my golf buddies were talking to each other in upbeat tones. What caught my attention is that they were talking about passages of Scripture that they had shared with each other the week before. As they quoted portions of the passages to each other, the power of the content was compelling: “I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure” (Psalm 16:8-9). “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees” (Psalm 119:71).

It was clear to see that they were lifting each other up with the power of God’s Word. Their enthusiasm for the support and joy they were experiencing in God and His Word proved that in times of trouble the Word of God is a source of comfort that infuses unusual strength into situations that put Word-less people into the dumpster.

I have to admit that I have never thought of using God’s Word to prop me up when my golf game goes south. But I was reminded afresh that there is unusual power in the Word of God to give us an edge during times of trouble.

So, when life hits the wall—go to the Word. And don’t isolate yourself! Find someone else in trouble and be Bible buddies. God loves us and gave us His Word to take us all the way through!

From: strengthforthejourney

The Art Of Kindness



The Lost Art of Kindness


An Open Letter to all the Human Beings Out There. No specific age, no specific gender, no specific race, no specific sexual orientation, no specific religion, no specific socioeconomic status. No, just…humans. There’s an epidemic in our culture these days and it is really disheartening.

Most of it is unwarranted and unprovoked. Most of it hides behind a cloak of anonymity in the social networking universe which has engulfed our generation. Some humans are hurt repeatedly for years without even being able to recognize their attacker if they passed them on the street. I am not talking about a specific hate crime here. I am talking about a crime we are all both subjected to and part of at the same time. I am talking about human-on-human crime. As a race, we humans have this uncanny ability to be mean. Plain and simple…meanness is our epidemic, and people are suffering every day.

Human-on-human crime has not been swept under the rug. Certain pains have been categorized with others and activist groups have been formed in hopes to bring to light the damage and emotional pain being committed by humans, to humans. The most recent organization to come to my attention is The Kind Campaign, which is an internationally recognized movement, documentary and school program based upon the powerful belief in kindness that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl crime. The Kind Campaign, along with other organizations, have made major strides to shed light on how bad things have truly gotten behind the keys of a message board as well as on the streets and in the classrooms across America.

In my opinion, at the bottom of all of these crimes, regardless of their different wrapping, is this: humans can be superiorly mean. Humans can be downright cruel. For years my mother would try to make me feel better and tell me the girls who tormented me in middle school were “jealous” and “insecure” and that was why they victimized me in the lunch room. I love my mother, but she was wrong. Sometimes this meanness has nothing to do with their insecurities or lives…sometimes, people are just mean. Much like coldblooded murder, there can very well be coldblooded meanness. Unprovoked, unwarranted meanness.

Now, when I attended middle and high school, things were different. There was no real anonymity. I knew which girls wanted to see me cry. I sat next to them in class. They would sign their names, first and last, on their mean notes to me in-between periods. These days it’s different. Like most diseases, human-on-human crime over time has become stronger and has mutated into something we know exists, but are still not sure how to fight successfully.

It’s scary nowadays. This world of anonymity has brought with it no sense of accountability for words being said. So, in turn, the words get sharper and more pointed, and they pierce the victim deeper.

There are some people who would rather die at the age of 13 than live their life. How sad is that? They want to die before they even have really begun to live. This is how mean humans have become. Kids with bedtimes and babysitters are having real suicidal thoughts when this is supposed to be the most carefree time of their lives. Instead of their parents seeing them grow up into young adults, some are cutting their children down from the rope they find their child hanging from in their bedroom closet.

Regardless of the target group, human-on-human crime in general needs to stop. It is causing irrevocable destruction to lives and mental well-beings. And for what? What pleasure do we get out of hurting another person? I am no saint. I have been a victim, yes, but I have been on the other side of the hurtful whisper as well – I have hurt people I simply can’t live without- but I have done more good than bad in this life, and I make an honest effort to try to do good every day.

My middle school days are far behind me. I have wonderful friends and a ridiculously close family. However, just recently, I have once again become a target of someone’s unwarranted meanness. Unlike most attacks these days, I know who my attacker is. I once considered him a good friend.

I turned 27 this year and I found myself in a really bad space. While everyone around me wanted to celebrate my life on my birthday, I found myself, for the first time ever, wondering if the world would be a better place without me. I find myself coming across his internet bashings and wondering why I am still dealing with this as I am closing-in on my 30’s. I find myself wondering if the world would be a better place without the humans who purposely do harm to other humans. The answer is no, the world would not be a better place without these people. It would be a better place, though, if those people were a little bit nicer.

On average, as a species, we get a measly 79 years on this planet. If we are lucky. Do you realize how short that is in the scheme of things? And though our time here is limited, we have the ability to inflict pain and damage. Wouldn’t you want to “inflict” empowerment instead?

Battling human-on-human crime with kindness is an uphill battle. We may be just as far in as we will ever be out. I am sure that even as I am writing this there are people still being hurt by words, people crying themselves to sleep, people hating on this letter. I believe that as much as we are the problem, we can also be the solution. Meanness is an epidemic and it is unraveling the chances of us living a supremely fulfilled life.

I ask that you share this open letter if you are going to make a conscious effort each day to be a little bit nicer. Share this open letter if you will make an honest effort to do something as simple as just “shaking it off” when the barista in the morning messes up your morning coffee. Share this open letter if instead of using the internet to hurt someone, you will use it to empower people and share the beautiful things in your life.

Life is short – spend your time here wisely. And just be nice to people.



Alicia Cook

From: www.values.com


The Art of Smiling

 (This article is from: Think Simple Now, The Art of Smiling}

By Tina Su, 2006, 'Smiling in Lhasa '
Photo by Tina Su

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word,
a listening ear, and honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring,
all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

– Leo F. Buscaglia

Actually, there isn’t any art behind it. Just that you were born to be happy, and you can show this happiness with that beautiful smile of yours. C’mon! Let’s see it. 🙂 Okay, good.

To some extent, we all know how to spot a genuine smile, basically this formula:

Genuine Smile = Crinkly Eyes

bbc-faces.jpg We are all sensitive to this genuine scale, so why then is it that when we cross paths with a stranger or casual acquaintance in the elevator, we give them a fake smile? That ‘polite smile’. You know what I’m talking about (don’t get me wrong, I do this too,unconscious at grocery stores, on streets, while waiting for something.). 

The lesson? Smile with your eyes! Feel it genuinely and it will come out naturally.

Extras: check out this quick interactive quiz from BBC to test out your ability to spot the difference between a real smile and a fake one.

Side Note: I am now smiling as I write this article. I love it! Thank you for reading and allowing me to express myself creatively.

A smile is so simple, yet so powerful. Some noticeable effects of externalizing your internal joy are:

  • People will be attracted to you – I don’t mean sexually (well, maybe that too), but people will feel drawn to your energy. When you smile more, you will carry an aura and poise that will draw people to you. People will look forward to being around you, knowing only that they feel great around you. People on the street, at work, your friends etc. We all like and want to be around happy and cheerful people, right?
  • Optimistic – You’ll feel more positive about yourself and the world.
  • Happiness & Joy – A smile is an expression of happiness and joy in you. Like an upward spiral, a smile will boost the happiness you feel.
  • Healthy – A smile can affect your internal state, which can have physiological impact on your physical and mental health.
  • Approachable – A smile is so welcoming and will make people feel more at ease.
  • Making Other People Happy – A smile has the power to make other people feel good about themselves. It’s heart-warming and has the power to cheer up others instantly.
  • Smiles Are Contagious – Others can quickly and easily catch it and will experience the above ‘side effects’.

Take The Smiling Challenge!


  • Smile at Strangers -You know those times when we cross paths with a stranger or accidentally catch someone’s gaze, and we (both) would suddenly look away in awkwardness or pretend we are looking at something else? Well, the challenge is to give them a big smile. A genuine smile, showing teeth and everything.Deepak Chopra talks about giving each person you encounter a small gift. I do this with a smile. Why not? It doesn’t cost us anything. Plus, it’s a lot more fun than feeling awkward and pretending you’re not there.I also love to see people’s reactions when you smile at them, and they aren’t expecting it. Some blush, and others are surprised and smile back, which makes me feel all warm inside.
  • I live in a part of downtown Seattle with lots of street hagglers and homeless people. People often ask me whether I get ‘harassed’ often. The answer is: sometimes. But they really are very nice, just like the rest of us. They too need attention and acknowledgment. So, give them a gift worth more than money.Next time someone asks you for money, don’t try to ignore them. Turn to them, smile warmly and tell them how you feel. If you don’t feel like giving money, just tell them “Sorry, I don’t have change now. Have a beautiful day!”Similarly, if something is trying to sell you something or ‘hitting-on’ you, simply turn to them, smile and say “No thank you.”I’ve found that it takes more energy to ignore and pretend to be very serious, than it is to smile. So smile! Make someone’s day!
  • Smile Fully -You know that half smile we give people when we’re trying to be polite? Like on an elevator, bumping in someone at the front door, or waiting in line. Why not practice giving them a real smile? It’ll be less awkward and you can potentially make someone’s day, or a new friend!
  • Smile at Work -Living under a routine, we can easily be in a zombie-like state when coming into work. We zip into work quickly following the same routines we’ve habituated. Our target is to get to work, and we can sometimes forget about the people around us, in other cubes/offices/departments. So, the challenge is to practice beaming with smile as you come into work. Smile genuinely with people you meet. Be completely pleased to see them. Make it a focus for the day, to bring more happiness into the lives of others. Ask them genuinely and infused with energy, “How are ya?” “How was your weekend?”Watch the smiles surface on their face.
  • A Small Compliment with Your Smile -When meeting or encountering people. Look for things you admire or like about them, however small, let them know. A small genuine compliment can go a long way to lift people’s spirits.

I’ve found it useful to be conscious of things that make me smile. You might want to spend a few minutes making a list of things that brings a smile to your face.

Some Moments That Make Me Smile are:

When Tommy (my eight pound Pomeranian doggie) does one of his tricks: spin in circles, playing dead, or his ‘moonwalk’ dance (that’s right, he moonwalks… *laughs*).

  • When I practice gratitude ‘sessions’
  • When I reach mini goals throughout the day.
  • When I read comments left by readers.
  • When savoring sweet taste of vanilla ice cream
  • When I do my happy dance, and make friends laugh with my ridiculousness.
  • When Adam (my partner) brings me food or chai in the morning as I’m working away on my laptop.
  • When my mother laughs

More Tips To Bring Smiles into Your Life

  • Smiling Journal – For two weeks, record the moments that brought out your wonderful smile. If you are ever feel down, flip through this book to be reminded of things that make you smile. Experience those moments and notice your state shift to a positive one. You cannot be both angry and smiling at the same time. I learned in physiological psychology that if the physical action conflicts with that of your feeling, the feeling inside will shift to match that of your outer sensation. One way to shift your emotion is to change your physiology.
  • Appreciation – Identify things that you are grateful for. Then focus on those things as much as possible.
  • Humor – Make a point to watch a comedy movie. To go a comedy club. Hang out with people who make you laugh.
  • Go On a Self Date – When we feel more connected with ourselves, we feel more joy and tend to naturally smile more.
  • Find Innocence – Observe a small child or a pet at play with total ease and freedom. Watch their innocence, enjoy their presence and yours. Are you smiling? Do you feel happy for them? That’s because you are connecting with the same innocence within yourself.

What makes you smile? Who made you smile today? Share your joy and happiness in a comment! See you there. *smiles*  ( Citation: Think Simple Now, The Art of Smiling).