Saturday, September 28, 2013

Is Your Team on the Bubble?

There is reason to believe that we often say one thing and actually do another, or in the case of this post, believe another.

How many times have you heard , "You just gotta have faith"? Faith is kind of illusive at times because it seems like we can have it now and in 5 minutes it's gone, or at least weak. But what does that say about what we really believe and whom we believe?

If you were sitting in a chair and every 15 minutes you got up and checked all the joinery and sat back down tentatively people would think you were crazy, especially if they saw this take place 10 times in a conversation. We have faith that the chair will hold us up until it has proven to be untrustworthy. 

We have faith that other drivers will stay in their own lanes. We have faith that airplanes stay in the air. We have faith that banks will keep our money safe, that police will keep their guns aimed at the bad guys and not the good guys and all kinds of other things. We have faith-period.

Since this is true then how is it that we believe that God is for us one minute and then change our minds the next? It's not because He has been untrustworthy. What does this say about our faith? 

We say that we believe that one of God's attributes is that He is omnipotent- meaning He is all powerful- but then we limit our asking because we wrongly think that He is "too busy to care" or "this is really not worth asking" or, or, or. All these things say much about our faith or they something about God's character. Either He is untrustworthy or our faith is too small. 

Since He has never failed that would always mean that He is trustworthy so as much as we don't want to own our small-faith issues they are ours and not His.

Limiting God is impossible. His power limitless. 

Let's ask Him for the things we need and expect that He will deliver because He wants to bless His children. We have not because we ask not, not because He can't deliver what we ask for. Let's ask and ask BIG and watch to see what happens.

It feels pretty good to have the God of the universe on our side. Let's live as if we are on the winning team not the team on the bubble. 

How Dirty is YOUR Bucket?

If you had the choice between hydrating yourself, and others, with dirty sludge water or pristine crystal-clear water, which would you pick? The answer is obvious to me and I believe the rest of the world would say "Pristine crystal-clear water".

As you look at the photo attached and you think about drinking yourself or giving others a drink it goes almost without saying that we would all select the one on the left. But I'd like to think about this in another way. Input.

How do you suppose the bucket on the right got this way? Was there a hose from a sump that brought this water in from the bottom of a ditch or catch basin? Was there a bunch of dirt left over in the bucket and water added later? Was it a blob of mud that started there and water was added? Regardless of the source there is now dirty water in the bucket and if we put a syphon hose in it then dirty water will come out. It's the way things work and there's no changing it. Salt water doesn't come from a fresh water stream any more than clean water coming from a dirty water source like this bucket.

These buckets are representative of our lives. We put lots of things into our lives that are not healthy or clean. We watch what the news media thinks we need to know without having any idea if ANY of it is true. We watch TV that pushed our thinking from where it should be to where the networks executives decide it should be. And if that is not enough, we are surprised that when we think and speak something less-than-fresh comes out of the vessel of our lives. Out of our hearts our mouths speak.

If we choose to have good things come out of our lives we must put good things in. Is it time to make a change in your life? 

If it is time for you to start putting good things in that's awesome. Here's something that you must keep in mind. There is still "dirty water" in the vessel that will take time to get out. Just like the photo above imagine if we start to put clean water in until the bucket over flows, the overflowing water in the bucket on the right will still be dirty for a while. Don't give up before the really clean water starts to overflow. Keep putting that clean water in and as time goes by you will see the overflow change.

Clean in=clean out. Dirty in=dirty out.

We should be the people that have the purest overflow on the planet.

Have an awesome day. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Building Materials for Your Life

Some years ago I had the privilege of being the general contractor on the home we currently live in. There were a number of reasons we chose to grab this undertaking but in the end it was a lot of work, managing as well as fun. I'd totally do it again.

While building this large roof over our heads there were many decisions that had to be made; some came up really quickly and some we had a long time to make a decision on. No matter what, we always had to make a decision or everything would stop moving.

I would say these all fall under the category of building materials and now as we look at our home and as others come to visit they see some of the evidence of those decisions; some go unnoticed by the eye but can be felt in the overall layout and comfort or lack there of in the space.

Whatever the feeling that is had when entering and spending time here there is still the overarching idea that the building materials matter. If you build your home with low quality materials the outcome will be low quality and won't last. If you build with great materials that are design with form and function in mind then you and others will wont to spend time there for a long time.

While I don't think that anyone will give me push back on these words thus far and history proves the validity in these word when we go by building made 100's and 1000's of years ago that are still function, like the coliseum in Verona Italy that is still used almost every summer night for an opera or a concert, there may be some that want to push back on the next paragraph.

In the same way as the materials that we build structures matter, so the materials that make up our lives matter. Garbage in does not necessarily mean garbage out but it does mean a garbage dump at least.

What we think on really matters. What we think determines what we say and do and it really effects the entire direction of our life. If we think on thing that are true, honorable,just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellence,and praise-worthy or lives will be filled with those things. If we think on everything that the world throws at us at every turn it should go without saying that our lives will be less than what we desire them to be.

Do you want to live a full life of joy and happiness? Of course you do. Then follow these rules of thought and your life will start to change for the better. Do you want to be a great friend and counselor to other, then think on these things and your friends will start to flock to you when they are in need.

Word matter. Thoughts matter. These are the building materials of our lives and we need to be careful to select only the best material into our life project.

 Have an incredible day and think on these things.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Do THIS and Change Your Life

Change Your Life
If I knew something that would change your life, make you the most positive person you know and make it so others were attracted to you all the time would you want to know what that thing was?

If you could just do a couple of things that would literally change how people looked at you and made it so they couldn't figure out why you were so different than most people on this planet, in a good way, would you want to know what that was?

If you could be the person you always knew you could be by doing just a couple of things would you want to know what has been blocking your path all these years?

Start Whistling 
OK, here you go. As the great song writer and philosopher Bobby McFerrin said "Don't work, be happy." Ok, maybe he's not either of those 2 things but he did sing the song that gets stuck in your head.

Changing our life really comes down to being happy/rejoicing and not worrying/thinking right. Look at the following and tell me what you see.

Think About This
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Phil 4:4-9. Wow, that's a lot!

In Real Life
Have you ever wondered how you were really supposed to do this in real life? I mean really. Rejoice always, in all things?

Rejoice when you get sick or your friend or child dies?
Rejoice when there's more month than money and then something major "bad" happens?
Rejoice when friends forsake you and treat you like dirt as they are walking away?
Rejoice when_______? You fill in the blank because there are a lot of blanks out there.

Yeah right. Rejoice in all that stuff. Paul wasn't being facetious here, he actually meant it. Like the post I wrote recently about Job, all those kinds of things happened to him and then some and yet he was still praising God in the midst of the storm.

But how do we do that? I know I get discouraged at times. I see the waves and it seems like there is no way out. How do we keep our faith strong, our rejoicing high, our anxiety low and our prayer life vibrant? How, in real life, does the peace of God dwell in and guard our hearts and minds?

Just This
It seems like it is wrapped up in these verses for us already. Prayer and right thinking. Right thinking is the starting point but often times our thinking is whacked. Like Peter, when he jumped out of the boat, we start with strong faith and then 10 steps into the day our faith is gone and we are sinking. 

We need to slap ourselves and talk to our souls about what we know to be true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable. As we think about these things and things that are excellent and worthy of praise then guess what, our faith grows, our rejoicing increases.

Does it Work?
How does this change your life, really? Have you ever been around someone who is negative all the time? These are the people that only see the bad in everything that happens to them. They say, "I am just being a realist". I used to say that all the time. They are, I was, choosing to think this way and instead of rejoicing in the situation, blame someone else.

Right thinking and the ensuing rejoicing is what makes us people that others want to be around. There are enough soul-sucking people in the world that we have to be around that as soon as we get to chose whom to talk with and hang with we want to be with someone who breathes life into our world. 

You do want that too? I think the answer is "yes". So if we want to be with those people we have to start to become those people as well. 

Do you Want to Grow Faster?
I don't expect you to be positive 100% of the time and there are times when it's my turn to breathe life into you and bring you up because soon it will be your turn to reciprocate. 

Life is hard. Trials are coming and the trials are God's way of bringing growth a lot faster. If we want to learn and grow faster the trials need to be there. We need to be there for our friends who are going through those times to encourage them when their faith and rejoicing is weak. Don't worry, our turn is coming; it always does.

Think Right. Talk Truth. Readily Rejoice.
Think about the right things. Talk your heart into rejoicing rather than rebelling. Pray like it all depends on God and work like it all depends on you. See what happens to your life when you do this. You will be pleasantly surprised how much difference it makes.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A VERY Blessed Man- Have You Got What it Takes?

Does it seem at times that God is trying to prove a point and that He's using you as the illustration? I don't know about you but I'm not too excited about those kinds of illustrations.

A long time ago there was a man named Job that God singled out in a most illustrative was and we all know that story. Job is widely known for being a man of patience, and while that is true to whom was he most patient toward?

He started off with so much stuff but it wasn't the stuff that drove him- it appears that what drove him was his family because he was always making sure he was interceding for them in case they had done something wrong. Here's a guy with LOTS of stuff that is more concerned with the hearts of his family than the stuff. That's something good to be known for.

He is also known for his response when he lost almost everything he had in a manner of minutes from various forms of disasters. Most people don't have their house burn down. Most people don't get struck by lightning. Most people never have an army attack them. Most people aren't in a single hurricane or tornado. What would it be like if you had all these things happen to you and all in 1 day? Would you be feeling like an illustration?

My grandson's name is Job. I don't personally know any other Jobs and often when I tell people his name they look at me funny. They sometimes follow it with "Wow, he'd better get ready for a crazy life" or something along those lines. I get it. But isn't there more to the story than he lost everything and was patient with some friends who could have been more encouraging and who didn't speak correctly about God?

The end of Job's life was more blessed than the beginning. Wow, that's saying something because he was very blessed in the beginning. 

Job knew his place before God and he also knew his God. He knew that God gives and he takes away and in both those situations He is to be praised. That doesn't mean that in all those times it's easy to praise or easy to see what God is doing but it didn't take away Job's understanding of Who God is in the midst of all those trials.

God is faithful in ALL things and Job is a great illustration of someone who implicitly trusted that God would do what was right no matter how bleak the circumstances looked at the time.

Job is a great role model of us today. Go out and take dominion of LOTS of stuff. Do it right. Be the best. BUT don't get so connected to the stuff that you forget your family and then don't get so attached to your family that if something happens to them that you are mad at God for those results.

Job was a righteous man and he was abundantly blessed. May we be this kind of illustration to the world. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Don't Keep me Walking... Walking on Broken Glass

"So take me from the wreckage
Save me from the blast
Lift me up and take me back
Don't keep me walking...
Walking on broken glass"
Annie Lennox

Have you ever walked into a great cathedral? More often than not the space is alive with sounds, even though people are trying to be quiet, the slightest movement makes a racket. You are on sensory overload with those sounds and then all the smells and the SIGHTS. The sights are amazing. Massive ceilings generally cloaked in all kinds of crazy architecture and materials. All shapes, textures, sizes and colors.

Often the center piece to these ancient wonders are their windows. The windows are telling stories about what the builder believed. Great planning, time and painstaking work went into these visual aids and a picture can't fully tell the story unless it is with your own eyes standing under these great masterpieces; I have added a couple so you are reminded of what I am talking about.

A marble sculpture is generally 1 large piece of stone carved to resemble something or someone. A painting is done with various colored paint but all on one canvas. But stained glass...

The amount of light that these let in tells part of the story. The shape tells another part. The size and figures tell another part and it's all done with what? Broken glass. 

Some of the most amazing architecture in the world is overlooked because the viewers are looking at windows made of broken glass.

JR Miller said, "In a great cathedral there is said to be a window made by an apprentice out of the bits of stained glass which were thrown away as refuse and worthless, when the other windows were made--and this is the most beautiful window of all." 

These days, and probably in the days of these great glass paintings, people seem to be feeling like their lives are falling apart, that there is little reason to go on with the country in such a mess, finances falling, family issues and the list goes on. Life is hard. The lives represented in these windows both from the artist's standpoint as well as the characters depicted were often lives that were a tremendous struggle. But these were not quitters.

Just like the window that Mr Miller was talking about, it does seem strange how many of earth's most beautiful lives have grown up out of seeming defeat and failure. God seems to love to build spiritual loveliness, loveliness that steals the show away from other forms of beauty and grandiose style, out of the castaway fragments of lives, even out of sin's debris. A life that seemed to be worthless turned into the most amazing testimony of God's grace and kindness, when others thought it was worthless. 

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18 
What an encouragement this is. God can take our messed up lives and turn them into something beautiful. God can take the wrongs others have done, whether by intention or not, and build something lasting and beautiful from those pieces.

"No others by their worst work of hurt or marring, can prevent your building a beautiful character for yourself." JR MIller 

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds!" Psalm 147:3

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Personal Development- What should You Do About It?

"If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree."
— Jim Rohn
I like the idea of personal development and it seems to be the center of many of my FB posts these days; like the one above. 
I've never met Jim Rohn but I like what his quotes make me think and then do, but is this one accurate? Is personal development what we should be focused on or not? It does seem that many people think it is wrong, or at least a waste of time, or they would be practicing these kinds of things.
So let's talk about personal development. As the world would speak about it I believe this quote would be accurate. There are parts of this that I believe are accurate as well. Basically it is saying "Take responsibility". If you and I don't like the way things are in our lives we are the ones who need to take responsibility and go out and change those things. God made us to be responsibility-taker.
I'll touch briefly on weight loss and fitness. Who really wants to be over weight? No one. Who wants to be grossly out of shape? No one. Then why do people stay that way? I have told my weight loss story many times and the answer is almost always the same. "Great job, but I could never go without my grains and sugar". Garbage. And as a new twist to the saying, "Garbage in does not equal garbage out, it equals garbage." If you put garbage in, whether it's in the form of words or food what remains is a garbage dump. Thanks SKH.
In my illustration about weight loss the person who can really change the situation had given up before even trying to do what I proved could be done. That hurts me, not because I gain something from the people around me all being in great shape and eating right, it hurts me that they won't even try when I know they can do it if they just start and stay after it. That is NOT taking responsibility.
OK, but what about the rest of this quote, "You're not a tree"? I'm not trying to be a semantics major here, but is this accurate? In Psalm 1 the writer there is contrasting the way of the wicked and the way of the righteous. The righteous is described as a tree that is constantly watered that brings forth fruit and whatever he does prospers. The wicked, conversely, are like chaff that is blown away by the wind. 
Chaff is worthless. Trees are not. Trees provide lots of thing. Chaff provides nothing but an illustration. I'd rather be a tree that holds t-shirts by the river in the summer, that has a rope swing on a branch and has an abundance of fruit for people to enjoy.
Now Psalm 1 is talking about not associating with wicked, sinning scoffers on one side, so choose your friends and associates very wisely, and on the other side it is telling us what we are to do. Is it personal development? Well, not in the form that we are accustomed to these days. Our "personal" development is to come from Scripture. We are to delight in God's Word and meditate on it day and night. That's the way we become a tree and not chaff.
Is personal development the same as sanctification? I know that there is resistance to both and that certainly everyone is not excited to practice either one, so maybe there are siblings. 
What kinds of things are you putting in today? What have the results been? Are the things you are putting in making you more like a tree or more like chaff? Is there room for both in our lives? How do you balance and monitor what you take in and how do you make sure that it's all the best stuff and not garbage?
Just something I have been thinking about and I'd love to hear your thoughts. BTW, you do know that you can make comments to these posts?:)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Grandfather's List

What do I want my grand babies to learn from me?
Learn to love trials. With namesakes like Job, Luther, Ruth and Grace there are some things that are probably coming that I can only imagine right now. I hope that they live godly lives so that trials do come, because I know that his Heavenly Father is in control of all things both in degree and duration.

No cynicism. Living with people it is easy to become cynical. There is Gospel hope in all things and for all those who are still breathing, and we mustn't give up while the heart still beats. Focus on what God can do rather than what seems to be impossible from a human perspective.

Head and Heart. True discipleship includes both sides of this coin and to neglect one diminishes influence. Love the Word and live the Word. Know the Truth and know the people the Truth was written to change.

Honor your parents. In today's society this is an anomaly and is a testimony of Gods grace. Children that honor and love their parents say something loudly. Your parents aren't perfect but they are the ones God gave you to lead you in life and love of Him and His people.

Be a friend. A man that has friends must show himself friendly and friendship requires saying and doing hard things at times. Be a friend like few others. Cultivate great friendships by being willing to not only say and do hard things but by being willing to listen and accept the same.

Work the plan. There is a plan for your life from before the beginning of time, Eph. 2:10. Get into the plan, follow the Spirit's leading and adopt a world view that shows you believe and love what God can do.

Be sold out. The world has yet to see what God can do with a man that is completely sold out to Him. The world rarely sees a woman today that is fully understands that women can have a gigantic impact on the people around them by following what Scripture says a woman should do and be. Be those people. 

I love you Jobie and Ruthie, you make my heart full and am excited to see God work in your heart and life.

I certainly didn't get it all right when I was younger and I am still learning and growing and I want you to be able to start from a point farther up than I did. Follow your awesome parents and you will be well on the way.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Just Ask Already

Don't Leave Me Hanging
I had something happen to me today that has happened lots of times before but it hit me different today. 

I put out my fist today for a "bump" from a little man and he didn't want to give me a bump. His parents are working with him and so they insisted that he respond correctly but he was having a difficult time allowing himself to do it. They were going to win and they did but it wasn't without a small altercation.

The reason it hit me differently today than before is I have been thinking about my own heart. 

Often I know what I am supposed to do and yet I really don't want to do it; hmm, seems too connected for my liking here. I'll elaborate further.

Go Ahead and Ask
Are you inclined to ask for help? Would you rather go without than to ask someone for a favor or to fill your need? If something needs to be done and you can't do it yourself what is your next plan?

It seems that increasingly this is something that is coming to my mind and I don't know that I like the answer that is returning. 

If you knew that you couldn't make ends meet next month what would you do? If you knew that the only way that you were going to survive next year was get a raise how would you go about this?

We all know people that are in these kinds of situations and have yet to ask someone close to them for help. Why is that? Why do we put up the front that all is good and "I got this"?

Maybe it is that we are thinking that some will think we are like the people that are holding signs on street corners and wonder if the people around us will believe what we are saying.

I think the answer is that we are too proud to ask/allow others to see that there is a struggle going on and the struggle is beyond our control. 

It's a Heart Issue
In the case of someone who can really do something about the situation I think the problem is our hearts are not willing to be humble enough to say that we don't have an answer and we are not going to ask.

When Jesus was just a few hours from going to the cross He gave some instructions to His disciples-
John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Is there anything unclear about these instructions? Not really. Then why don't we just ask? See above. Pride. I want to "not bother God". Really? No, it's pride. I want to say that I worked harder than others, was smarter, knew the right people, was at the right place at the right time...

We can convince ourselves of all kinds of "reasons" why we are not asking God to do the things that we desperately need Him to do but in not asking we are not obeying.

He wants to bless and be honored as the Giver and yet I stubbornly want to do it my way and in my own time. Dumb. Just sayin'.

Just Ask Already
So, we don't have the things we need because we don't ask or we ask with wrong motives or we ask and doubt, but regardless of all those other things, we don't ask in the first place. We can't say that it's all God's will so if He konws we need it He'll provide because He apparently wants His disciples to ask or why would He have said all those things? 

He wouldn't have if He didn't expect us to do it.

So ask to find your golf ball. Ask for an improved marriage. Ask for growth in your small group. Ask for your kids to love Jesus. Ask HIM for a raise. Ask for sunshine or rain. Ask for forgiveness. Ask for good traffic, good crops, no car repairs and good health. Ask for whatever but just start asking and see what HE does. 

I'd love to hear the answers so post them when He delivers; and He will deliver.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Go 2 Give Not 2 Receive

I am frequently reminded about how important it is to show up to things. "What kind of things?" you might ask.

Well let me start by saying that, at least in the NW, people are generally not great at RSVPing, coming well prepared, giving the right number in their party and bringing enough whatever they are supposed to bring when they do come, but...

"What kinds of things?". Like church for starters. People either don't show up at all or they show up for their favorite part and then leave. For example; there might be 2 services in the am, 1 being a Sunday school time and the other the main service and people come for 1 and don't go to the other. Maybe too much good cookin' is not what they want. Or they come for the morning time and then don't return in the evening.

Here's what I'm getting after and it's not just church it's other organizations you are a part of like clubs, PTA, team functions, Lion, Elk and other animals; all those types of things that we say we belong to and then show up when we feel like it. 

The issue is, we are a part of it. What if your left hand decided that it really didn't feel like going to an event that the rest of your body decided it wanted to be a part of; well that wouldn't work very well. You might say, "That's stupid because of course you entire body has to go all at one time". Exactly my point.

When we commit to something then we need to commit or not commit. 

Suppose the preacher works tirelessly to get the sermon just right, he has been thinking about it all week and is ready to speak his heart out and 4 people show up out of the 400 that were part of the group. Who looses? 

The preacher would be bummed because he had something that he really thought of value for the congregation but the real losers are the 396. Now they might all have some great reasons for not showing up that day but they are part of a body that they are committed to and they should show up unless there is a VERY good reason not to.

In a couple of groups that I currently belong to that are completely disconnected from each other there seems to be a "take it or leave it" attitude that prevails when it comes to attendance. That actually stinks for everyone.

Let's take a look at it from the outside and not in a church environment. 

I belong to a group that meets most Tuesdays. It's a small group that can really change the meeting day or time but we have elected to keep a constant time so there is no confusion. We invite people and there are regular attending people  that have said they want to be a part but when Tuesday comes very few people show up.

The person that has planned and organized the meeting, set the tables and taken time out of their busy week to get all this done has holes shot in their sails when 2-3 people show up. If I invite a guest to a meeting because "This is a really exciting thing that is happening here and I want you to be a part of it" and there are 2-3 people out of the 20-30 that could be there, well how exciting could a group be with that kind of attendance.

People, it's not about you and our schedule. It's about what you can give to the group that matters. Forget about the fact that maybe you will take something home of value after being there, go to give rather than receive.

If you aren't interested in remaining in the group then tell the organizers and bow out. If enough people do that then there will be no need for those that are laboring to labor thinking that many are going to show up to "eat".

I'll give 1 more illustration that has happened to me previously and may have happened to you and then I'll close my mouth.

If 25 people have been invited to Thanksgiving at your house and they have all said in some form or another that they are coming, even though you may have had to pry that from them, what are you expecting on Thanksgiving? 25 people or 5? 

If you asked them to bring a dessert or a salad and they showed up with a 2 liter instead does that really help you out? If all the salad people decided not to bring something or they were supposed to bring something to feed 8 and they decided that was too much work so they brought a salad for 4, well that doesn't work either.

we need to take our eyes off of ourselves and put them onto others. What can we give to others in that moment? 

It seems like a rant but really it's more the idea that those who don't show or 1/2 show are hurting everyone, including themselves. Let's be people that show up ready to participate. Be present.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

She Had Me at "WAAA"

I can't say that the day or two before Kimmy arrived were like Heaven on earth. She was pretty determined to stay inside her mama when everyone on the outside thought it was time for her to come out.

It was a crazy labor, but we won't go there. I have told Teresa that the mom's can't tell their labor stories after their daughters have been in labor:)

But let me say that when the time finally arrived that Kimmy showed her face, it was love at first sight. Ok, maybe second sight.

She came out scowling at the world. She was MAD. No sound. No sound. SOUND!!! But what a great sound it was. It was the sound of life; our not so little (9 lb 1oz) girl's life. It was a beautiful and pleasantly low cry, unlike some of those squealing babies in the other room who's mom had started labor after Teresa, delivered and left before Kimmy decided to face the world. We were very happy we had this one.

She had me at "WAAA". She looked right at me and cried and it was pretty stinkin' ok with me. 

But it didn't take long and she was smiling at her mama and me and the rest of the world. She was such a good baby. She loved everyone and everyone loved her. In fact we have friends who were considering not having kids until they met Kimmy and they changed their minds.

What a joy our Kimmy has been. She is wise beyond her years. She is such a good mommy to her 2 little ones. Knows the balance between discipline and love. 

She loves her man. Works hard and relaxes. Is a friend to many and has really become a great friend to her parents.

What a blessing when your kids turn into your best friends.

I thank the Lord for giving us our kids and especially today on Kimmy's 25th birthday I am so thankful that we have had 25 awesome years with her.

I love you Kimberly. You make my heart happy. Have a great birthday. Wish I could be there to give you a big hug and look into those eyes that make me smile.

You'll always be my little girl.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Easy TO do. Easy NOT to do. It Still Matters.

"What did you do today?" might be something that my family would hear me say a few thousand times in their lifetimes.

When I ask that question I am not asking in a condescending tone rather I am wondering what elements made up their whole day. I think I am actually interested; but am I? 

If the answer were to come back listing a few of the same things that had been the answer for the past 7 or 30 days it would probably not be too long and I would stop asking. But often times people don't answer that question because they know the person asking doesn't really care that they washed 4 loads of laundry, scrubbed 3 toilets, changes 14 diapers, wrote 5 proposals, made 50 phone calls, washed the car...

It's similar to when we ask someone in passing, "How are you doing?". We don't really expect them to answer fully.

But in real life isn't the answer to this question what makes up our life? We want to be able to answer things like "I won the Boston Marathon", "I had a corporate takeover deal go through", "I lost 50 lbs", "My kid just got a job working for the president of ______" and those kinds of things, but that isn't really what makes up our life.

You may have canned 50 quarts of tomatoes today but without the everyday work going into cultivation, planting, weeding, watering and waiting there would be no tomatoes to harvest. It's the everyday of life that nearly all of the world's best work is done. Simple daily disciplines that are easy to do and easy not to do that change what our life looks like in 20-30 years or over our lifetime.

"The tall mountain-peaks lift their glittering crests into the clouds, and win attention and admiration. But it is in the great valleys and broad plains, that the harvests grow and the fruits ripen, on which the millions of earth feed their hunger.

In the same way, it is not from the few great and conspicuous deeds of life that the blessings chiefly come which make the world better, sweeter, holier--but from the countless lowly ministries of the every-days, the little faithfulnesses that fill long years." JR Miller

How true this is. We want to be on the mountain tops all the time. We want to be in the winner's circle every minute of every day but the reality is that it takes a lot of unnoticed preparation and work to get to the winner's circle in the first place. 

I haven't met anyone who loves being down in the valley for months on end and the only thing that keeps us going in those times is knowing that there is going to come a time when we will get to see the view from closer to the top but those times below are what help us enjoy the view all the more when we do finally get higher up the peak.

At the end of our lives we will look back and see a few mountain tops but those are going to be dots scattered very randomly and sporadically with lots of cloudy days in between. 

In a survey done with people who lived to be at least 100 the most common thing was a positive attitude. Life is hard and sometimes it seems like there is little point to this grind and yet there is a point. When we are faithful in little things we are given more. The way faith is increased is the same way that muscles are increased; use and stretching. It's not the most fun process in the moment but it is the way that we grow.

So today, if your life seems boring and you don't get to tell your friends you got the biggest deal of the month or that you scored the winning run, or, or, or, don't worry about that. The thing that we need to keep in mind is if we are being faithful in the little things today then God will take care of the rest.

Easy to say, harder to remember. Easy to do and easy not to do but worth it when we accomplish it even if we are the only ones that know we did it. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Who's Gonna Make it Right?

It's a dog-eat-dog world out there and it seems like the biggest dog always wins.

Even on the airplane they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others.

Are we in this process called "life" all by ourselves and for ourselves?

Does anyone else really care what we are going through enough to step in and help?

People all around us are struggling and yet it doesn't seem that there are many reaching out to help in the struggle.

Failings at every turn, leading to failing relationships, leading to more failure and the downward spiral rages on.

What to do?

JR Miller wrote, "The God of the Bible, is the God of those who have failed. Wherever there is a weak, stumbling Christian, unable to walk alone--to him the Divine heart goes out in tender thought and sympathy, and the Divine hand is extended to support him and keep him from falling. Wherever one has fallen, and lies in defeat or failure--over him bends the Heavenly Father in kindly pity, to raise him up and to help him to begin again."

If you were failing and your dad had every means to pull you from that situation to whom would blame rest if you didn't ask for help?

Now some might argue that their relationship with their dad has been fractured for many years and so asking for help might be awkward at best. 
Ask anyway. After all, he is your dad.

In the case of our Heavenly Father we are always fracturing the relationship and then returning to ask for forgiveness, often times for the same offense, so this is not new to Him.

Unlike we earthly fathers who can hold grudges or carry an offense long after it took place, our Heavenly Father fully forgives when we repent and is ready and willing to bless and renew.

Ps. 73 tells of a similar situation where the evil are getting ahead and it seems like no one is there to make it right all the while the one who's guarding his heart seems to be failing quickly and miserably.

Who's gonna make it right? Here's the answer.

 Verse "25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

God is the One who will take care of the generations left behind. He will make all things new and right; sometimes in our lifetime and in our line of sight and sometimes not.

So lend an ear AND a hand. Open up your heart to your neighbor's "mess". It might not be long until you find yourself in the same kind of mess.

Don't worry about today or even tomorrow because that doesn't do any good anyway; He's got it under control and He'll make it right.

Friday, September 6, 2013


It seems strange how closely connected we are to each other, so intertwined, and at the same time we are independent of one another.

I have been thinking about how the people we work with can be on the same team, working for the same goals and outcome, and all the while if one person lags behind that person can be replaced or moved and life still goes on and the project goes on without them.

A salesperson is no better than the product or service they represent but if the salesperson fails to sell then the product of service department fails right along with them. So connected and yet they really are not doing the same job at all.

Life is like this. One family member is to provide a certain service for the family, even though it may be completely unrelated to the whole, and if that part is not done then the entire family suffers.

How are we so disconnectedly-connected? God designed it that way- perfectly. My eye has a completely different function that my hand. Some people have amazing hand-eye coordination and others, well not so much. A person with amazing hand-eye can make millions with those skills if perfected and conversely someone without much hand-eye could make billions and never be able to hit a ball with a stick.

God gives us all certain abilities and gifts and He really does expect for us to use them and to work at improving those to the best of our abilities and to go out and do something with them. He doesn't expect me to spend hours upon hours improving my vertical leap so I can dunk because that's not what He gave me to work with.

We're all part of a grander plan of helping make others better while being our own part of that grand plan at working at becoming better ourselves. God didn't make us all equal at really much of anything. He does give some lots of amazing talent in a very public way while giving others talent at something not so public. I think we are often stuck thinking that the publicly talented people are more special because they might get paid more for what they are doing, but it might be that they have worked harder at what they are doing than others- maybe.

Maybe it's just that God wanted the not-so-public people to be great at something that is unseen by the masses. Maybe being a great mom is more important than making millions. Maybe being a true friend is what God placed you here for rather than to be the star of the show. Maybe it's both, simultaneously. 

Whatever the purpose that God has for you it is, well, for you. It's not for me and my purpose is not for you. We are all unique and God made it that way. 

Maybe your gift to the world is your smile even when life is super hard. 
Maybe it's your ever present mild mannered personality even in the craziest times.
Maybe you inspire people to be more than they thought possible.
Maybe you write songs or books or programs to make those things easier and faster.
Maybe you have been given the gift of a green thumb and carts of earths bounty.
Maybe you just make people happy when they talk with you.
Maybe you make people answer soul searching questions that change their direction.

Whatever it is that God gave you to do, you should do it well and not be thinking, "I wish I were an eye or a hand or a..." Maybe, just maybe, you're exactly the part you should be and you just haven't attained the greatness that God intended for that part yet. Get to work:) 

It doesn't matter if your the public or private person. What matters most is if you are being all that God intended for that part He uniquely gifted you to be.