Monday, March 26 2018
“It requires so much energy to figure out the next move that I often make the mistake of taking the planted foot for granted.”
David L. Odom
Good morning, friends! How was your weekend? I ask that knowing not everyone gets a traditional weekend, but I do hope you got some good rest sometime in the past week. A new week begins, so let’s get to it!
Have you ever had a dream? Has a wonderful idea ever come into your mind so powerfully that you could feel it morphing into plans? Sure, we all have. Whether it’s for life or work or health or something else our minds open up to us opportunities that extend us. And at those moments we are presented with possibility of change. For many of us change is so intimidating we beat those thoughts into submission. For others of us change is so confusing we fail and fumble a few times and eventually avoid it. And then there are the precious few among us who ride the waves of change crashing plenty of times but never letting go of the dream to ride a big one to the shore. Which one are you?
Mr. Odom’s image of change boils it down to the basic step, the moment of initial change. I’ll bet you know this moment very well. I need to reach out to someone. I’d like to exercise. Should I change jobs? Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. We typically find ourselves at the moment of change and are very cognizant of energy it took to clarify the idea, develop the plan, muster the resources and marshal the courage. And if the energy is right we are ready, very ready, to take that first step. But what of the back foot still on the ground? What of the base of stability to support the change? The great surfers have a tether that keeps them attached to their board in case of a crash. That way they can get up, paddle out, and ride again. One stable foot allows the moving foot to find its own stability before surrendering its own.
· With two stable life feet you’re safe to consider, imagine and dream.
· When you’re ready to risk change keep the back foot stable.
· When the moving foot finds a landing place make sure it’s stable before lifting the back foot.
Few times am I more mindful than when I hike. I love new trails, unknown places and risky hikes. I’m pretty good at it because I pay close attention to my feet. No front foot gets my full trust until I’m convinced it’s stable all on its own. Then I risk the back foot. Take your dreams from thoughts to movement and do so wisely and carefully. And have a wonderful week!
Monday, March 19 2018
“Thank you, God, for your love, and mercy, and grace, and forgiveness.”
Unnamed homeless gentleman
Good morning, friends! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Mine was busy, busy, busy, but busy is better than lazy. Let’s keep it going and get to it!
The church I serve is part of a very large ministry in town that serves homeless persons during the winter. Smaller churches like mine sign up to provide the meal for one of the sites as many nights as possible. A group from my church fed one site Saturday night, 20 homeless gentlemen. One of the gentlemen is asked each night to offer a blessing for the meal; it was so this past Saturday. And as the gentleman prayed his first words were our quote for today, thanking God for the love, mercy, grace and forgiveness in his life. I was speechless.
Now, I don’t know what your faith perspective is and that’s not my point today. What clobbered me in the man’s prayer is the idea that a man will little or nothing material, who struggles daily for subsistence, and who faces every judgement society can throw at him can see through that cloud of negativity and see his life somehow as blessed. If he is on one end of life’s spectrum then you and I very likely are near the other end: every need met, most wants covered and few meaningful recriminations coming our way. We’ve always been taught to be “thankful” but why is it so hard to be “thankful” and “appreciative” when we live in abundance while a homeless gentleman can be all that and more in poverty?
Needless to say this brief interaction with this gentleman has infected me. He has provided my life with stark perspective and placed me in harsh relief. No one would choose to live like this gentleman, but everyone would be wise to think like he did Saturday evening. Leading up to the prayer I was a bit stressed about the amount of money I spent on the BBQ, a budget challenge for sure. But then this gentleman stripped me bare, reminding me of the million blessings I took for granted to be standing there, BBQ in hand. Perhaps we all need to be undone once in a while.
· What fog keeps you from seeing your blessings and feeling thankful and appreciative?
· What demons keep you in a sense of scarcity and from feeling abundant?
· What good has chasing abundance done you?
I often wonder about the lives of these gentlemen we feed each year but I doubt they wonder much about mine. My life is all around them; they can hardly escape the “me’s” of their world. My pity, frustration, impatience and avoidance only reveal the shallowness of my life. This gentleman’s prayer revealed a life I’ve never seen. Take a look, if you can, see how it reveals your own life. And have a wonderful week.
Monday, March 12 2018
“The committee sent a message to me that it's going to get tougher for everybody at our level to get an at-large with this new system. You've got to be perfect. We only have a few chances, and they are usually either on the road or on a neutral court…”
Kermit Davis, Middle Tennessee University basketball coach
Good morning, friends! I hope you are someplace warm; I woke up today to heavy, wet snow. Yuck! But that’s not our issue, so let’s get to it.
Last night was a near holiday night for a large portion of our culture. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket was announced with great fanfare. Last night and this morning all over America and beyond brackets are being printed, pools are being formed and bets are being placed. This tournament is huge business. But quickly lost in the glitz and glamor are the teams, particularly those from small and mid-sized schools, who did not make the tournament. Accusations and recriminations are flying fast and loose today, in some cases warranted and in other cases not so much. But my question in all cases is, “Why?”
Have you ever been, in your estimation, unfairly treated, left out, passed over, or ignored? We all have, and statistically it’s about as many times as when we’ve been overly well treated, unlikely included, warmly picked up and remarkably recognized. Life is like that: we consider the slights to be outrageously undeserved and the blessings to be fair compensation. The reality is somewhere in the middle. In the bracket of your life you’ll win as often as you lose as long as you keep playing.
And there’s the issue; you only have control of yourself. Waiting for someone else to change is a fool’s game. The other driver, the other leader, the other “chooser”, the other neighbor…all beyond our control and barely within our influence. What we control and influence is ourselves.
· What is a focus you can bring back to yourself?
· What is a control you can return to you?
· What can help you play the game of your life well, letting the bracket take care of itself?
There have been and continue to be plenty of areas of my life I “wish” turned out differently. Sometimes I’ve even blamed someone else for my outcomes. I was the fool. Good choices, hard work, and efficient efforts will usually pan out. And that’s about all we can control. Can you do it? Absolutely! So get to it. And have a wonderful week.
Monday, March 05 2018
“Auggie can't change how he looks. Maybe we should change how we see.”
R.J. Palacio (via Mr. Tushman)
Good morning, friends! I hope you’re not fooled by this faux-spring weather. Something in my spirit suggests we have another cold spell coming. But that’s not our business today. Let’s get to it!
In honor of last night’s Oscars I reflect on this quote from the best (and one of the few) movie I saw last year, “Wonder”. It’s about a boy born with incredible appearance deformities and his first year of middle school when his parents first integrate him into mainstream school. Talk about a nightmare! But the movie was excellent and the messages, while mostly simplistic, were still yet powerful. Consider today’s quote.
My faith challenges me to refrain from judgement but judgement is exactly what I seem destined to do. Very often it seems to be that for which my eyes were created. To paraphrase Voltaire, “I look, therefore I judge.” Yet the paradox is that I despise to be judged. When judged I think, “Do they know what I’m going through? Do they know what my life’s been like?” Why is it so hard to connect the ease of outward judgement with the repulsion of received judgement? Perhaps because the process requires change.
One thing I’ve struggled to understand is why it is so hard to release unnecessary judgement. Confrontive experiences, sure, it’s easy to hold on to those judgements even if they are unhelpful. But passive experiences? Are we really better or improved when we passively label? Perhaps labels are the sugar in our lives, a habit that’s very hard to break.
* What simple step can you take today to reduce your negative labeling of persons?
* What positive swap can you make when a negative label appears out of nowhere?
* What consistent negative labels can you begin to address?
Change is hard; that much we know. But shutting off the faucet that spews poison into our own world seems a change worth attempting. Will you join me in this venture? Can we together affect our little spaces with less judgement and labeling? I think we can, so let’s do it! Have a wonderful week.
1 John 3:11-15