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A new meaning of abundance

Published October 12. 2013 09:00AM

I love bookstores and libraries.

I like libraries best because there is no end to the fascinating free offerings. Each week when I go there I walk away with four or five books and some free periodicals. This week, as I browsed through the library, I found some quirky books and magazines. Intrigued by its title, I flipped through the book, "The Art of Over Eating. (I do that far too often.)

But its advice is flaky, at best. "Never weigh yourself with your glasses on," said the author. "That way, you can say you weigh whatever you want."

The periodical that caught my eye had this attention-getting cover story: "Money is not the root of all evil. Money is awesome." At first glance, the magazine seemed to be about the pursuit of more money.

That flies in the face of what is going on in many places today where doing with less is prevalent.

Many do with less because they are forced to. They struggle to pay for housing and food. Others do with less because they realize it's the smart way to live. There are better ways to spend one's life than accumulating money.

I was especially turned off by the magazine cover with the blazing headline: Embracing Abundance.

I was especially turned off because I had just come from the food kitchen of a local church. "You'll see a lot of people here who never had to ask for help before," said the pastor. "Before they lost their jobs, they were the ones bringing food for the poor. Now, they are the ones who need it," he said.

The pastor told me heartbreaking stories about families forced to live in a car when they could no longer afford to pay rent. The statistics about children living in that situation are hard to believe.

When most of us hear that, we respond by saying: "Can't they do something about those kids?"

Well, yes. But first you have to understand you are part of the "they" that can make a difference to hurting families.

I believe that people are basically good and they want to do good. When people hear about a way they can help, they always respond. It's been my privilege to write story after story about good people reaching out to help others.

But with all that as background, it goes against the grain to see a magazine devoted to the theme: Embracing Abundance.

I'm happy to say the mistake is mine. When I read through the magazine, it wasn't advocating chasing after material things.

Abundance means different things to different people. Sure, for many, having abundance means having money - enough money to make you secure.

But abundance means something greater to many others.

I like the way motivational speaker Ricky Roberts phrased it. Reminding us that abundance is more than money we have and things we own, he says: "Abundance is in the air we breathe. The sounds we hear. The sights we see.

"It is in the capacity to feel love. The family and friends we have.

"The people we inspire and help.

"The experiences we are given to learn and grow from."

While many motivational experts have told us their ideas about the meaning of abundance, I like Roberts' thoughts best.

When we think about abundance as being family and friends who help shape our lives, it takes on greater meaning.

This week I sure had abundance after I called my friend Jeanne and suggested we take advantage of what may be the last of our perfect swimming weather by spending a day at the beach.

The water was perfect, the beach was wonderful and it was a delicious day in every respect. As we floated on the tranquil sea, I thought once again that I was being treated to the riches of life.

Every now and then we read about the "abundance mentality." There have been some interesting articles written about the abundance mentality in business and even in our love relationships.

We're told the abundance mentality is recognizing that there are always new chances and new opportunities.

I believe developing an abundance mentality also means having an appreciation for every single thing in life.

It's been said that abundance is a state of mind, not a physical reality. I think that is so true.

Friends of mine saw that first hand while they were vacationing in Guatemala. While visiting one of the small villages, they saw family housing consisted of small one-room huts with dirt floors.

The people had nothing. But what struck them was how happy the families seemed to be. "I never saw such friendly, happy people," said my friend. "We wondered how they could be so happy when they didn't even have much to eat."

When the Americans brought food to a few families, they were again impressed by what they saw. Instead of squirreling the food away for themselves, they called others together to share the food they had been given.

These simple people didn't have much. But they had their own version of abundance.

No matter what our financial circumstances are, most of us have abundance - at least when we think about abundance as meaning more than money.

I have a grateful heart for the gift of life and all that it entails. Whether you call these gifts "abundance" or "blessings," it all means the same thing: being grateful for every little thing.

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