Friday, July 26, 2013

Back to reality...

I was at Fenway enjoying day 3 of our vacation and chatting with the person sitting next to me.  They were on the final day of vacation and returning to the office the next day.  We enjoyed the beautiful evening after a day mixed with thunderstorms. The Red Sox were winning, the sky was slowly fading to an evening and night sky, the lights were on in the park. It was a moment worth remembering. But, what stuck most in my mind was a comment the other person made. When he said this was his last day of vacation, he followed with "back to reality tomorrow". 

What is reality?  Do we call it reality because it is what we do every day?  Does doing something frequently make it "reality"?  Perhaps reality is sitting at a ball game on a beautiful evening. Or maybe reality doesn't even exist on Earth. We call it reality because it is what is most familiar to us. It is "familiarity" that consumes most of our time. Reality might just be something we have not yet discovered. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Worry or Prayer?...

Over the past few weeks, I've had moments in my work where I feel I am not measuring up.  This is not all-consuming, but simply a nagging feeling that won't go away.  Some days, I feel empowered and at the end of the day, I can say "Wow...that was a great day!".  Other days, I feel like I will never catch up with everything that needs to be done.

As I reflect on the differences in these productive days vs the "wasted" days, there is the obvious difference.  The productive days started with prayer.  Was it the prayer that made the difference or simply the fact that I started out organized enough that I had time for prayer so I would have been organized anyway?  Today's experience will answer that question.

I was up for an early conference call that got postponed.  Therefore, I had an extra 1/2 hour at the beginning of my day.  How did I spend that time?  Organizing my work and planning for my next meeting.  While driving to the office later in the morning, I realized I didn't have any morning prayer.  A quick "Hey God...how ya doin'?" was all He got during my drive to the office.  The day was busy with appointments and meetings.  The final meeting was a conference call at 8pm.  But, this was the call I was most concerned about.  I could feel my shoulders tense as I thought about the call.  I wasn't sure how to open the call or how to direct the conversation.  My boss was on the same call and I wanted to impress her - especially since I was feeling like didn't measure up lately.

With less than 30 minutes before the start of the call, my daughter found a plaque while cleaning her room and handed it to me.  My first thought was "Why are you giving this to me?  If you don't want it anymore, put it in the 'stuff you don't want' pile."....Then I looked at the plaque.  This is what it said:

The Difference

I got up early one morning 
and rushed right into the day.
I had so much to accomplish 
that I didn't have time to pray

Problems just tumbled about me 
and heavier came each task
"Why doesn't God help me?", I wondered
He answered "You didn't ask"

I wanted to see joy and beauty 
but the day toiled on gray and bleak,
I wondered why God didn't show me
He said, 'But you didn't seek"

I tried to come into God's presence
I used all my keys at the lock
God gently and lovingly chided
"My child you didn't knock"

I woke up early this morning
and paused before entering the day,
I had so much to accomplish
that I had to take time to pray

The call went better than I could have imagined.  Not because I was well prepared, but because I read that plaque and took the time to say "This one is in your hands. I am done worrying about it."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Protection from harm...

I have often struggled with the concept that the sin of one man could infect the entire world.  Yesterday, I finally understood.

If we lived in a world without germs, nobody would ever get sick.  We would all be healthy all the time.  There would be no need for sick days.  We wouldn't need doctors. We would never need to take a day off to get better.  We would never appreciate our health because we haven't experienced life without it.

If just one single germ entered that world, people would start to get sick.  People would need to learn how to protect themselves from the germs that are beginning to spread and make everyone sick.  We would have no escape from the germs.  The only solution would be to arm ourselves with protections against the germs.  We take vaccines, we wash our hands, we take time to recuperate when we know the germs are starting to affect us.  If we don't take care of ourselves, we get sick and we need to take even more time to recover.  Sometimes we need the help of a doctor.

If we think of sin in terms of the germs, then it is possible for just one sin to infect the entire world.  We have no escape from it.  The only solution is to arm ourselves with protection against the sin.  We need prayer and time daily to recharge.  If we don't take care of our prayer life, we lose touch and the sin takes over.  We can recover and fight against the effects of sin.  Sometimes we need a doctor to help us recover from the effects of germs (illness).  We need THE doctor to help us recover from the effects of sin (separation from God).

Germs will never go away are are even necessary in our world so we will remember to honor our health and take care of ourselves.  Sin will never go away and is even necessary in our world so we will remember to honor our Father and take care of our relationship with Him.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Waste not, want not...

If you worked your entire life in order to pay for your child's post-secondary education, what would you expect from your child?  You might expect that they study hard and appreciate what you have done for them.  If they choose not to put their full effort into their studies, would you love them any less?  Would you be disappointed?  What about the student?  Will they  be happy with themselves at the end of their education or will they look back and wish they had put more effort into it?

What are you doing with your life?  It was given to you as a gift, but somebody else paid the price.  If we are not using our life for the purpose that God intended, are we not doing the same as the student who didn't study?  What will happen when we look back?  Will we wish we had put more effort into it?

God will not love us less because we are not living fully for Him, just as you would not love your child less because they are not focused on their studies.  You paid for your child's education because you knew what was best for them.  Jesus paid for our lives because He knows what is best for us.

The student will not experience the full benefit of their education and we will not see the full benefit of our lives if we are not doing what was intended by the person who paid for us.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Focus for success...

We, as humans, cannot be all things to all people.  Instead of spreading our energy aimlessly, we need to focus it in the direction we are called.

I remember the amusement park game where you would squirt water at a target to power a car up the wall.  The car that reached the top first was the winner.  As a child, I loved to watch people play this game, but it always seemed to me like the wrong one was winning each time - until I realized I was looking at all wrong.  I was looking at the ones where the water seemed to spray harder.  Those ones were making a louder noise and you could see their stream spraying everywhere.  It wasn't until I saw the same person win repeatedly that I realized he knew the secret.  The secret to winning this game was to aim for the center of the target and not let any of the water hit outside the target.  When it hit outside the target, it make a louder noise, it sprayed more and it appeared to be a stronger pressure.  What appeared to be stronger was actually weaker.

When we spend our energy trying to be all things to all people, it is like missing the center of the target.  We are wasting energy by not focusing on the one thing we are called to do at any given moment.  When we focus on the task we are assigned today, at this moment, we are more likely to accomplish it.

How are you spending your energy? What are you called to do right now?


Friday, October 19, 2012

Love is...

What does love look like?  Some people say it is an emotion and some say it is an action.  But nobody says it is a physical thing that you can see.

I have seen love, I have felt love, I have been love.  Love is not that "butterflies in the stomach" feeling you get when you are a teenager.  It is much deeper.  It is a sense of peace and joy mixed together to produce a sense of belonging and knowing that you matter.

I have met people with whom I feel a warm connection.  These are the people I enjoy being around because I sense that feeling of peace and joy.  It is not what those people say or do, it is a radiance that emits from them.  Something you cannot see, but it shows in their face anyway.  These are the people who seem to have a calm peace about them.  They are not judging or critical of others.  They see the good in all things and in all people.

But where I see love the most is when I see those people act in a truly humble way.  Humility is showing unconditional love with no thoughts or desires to be noticed.  To give of yourself with no concern for what you might get in return.

This type of love does not belong to us nor does it come from us.  It is a reflection of God's love to the world.  Open yourself and allow God's love to radiate through you.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Paddling team....

I participated in a charity event where we paddled a war canoe.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but a co-worker was a seasoned paddler so I, along with 10 other co-workers, became a part of the team.  This event gave me a new way to view teamwork.

I noticed some of the other boats had only 8 paddlers.  At first, it seemed that should be a liability for them because we had more people doing the work, but they were moving faster than we were!  That's when I realized that fewer paddlers who were synchronized worked better than more paddlers who were each paddling at their own pace.

I saw this analogy in the workplace when all but one member of the team were on board with changing our process.  The problem was that for this particular process to work well, we needed all members to embrace the new process.  I described the results of having one person out of sync to that of a boat where 11 of the 12 people are paddling in the same rhythm.  Having just one person out of sync slows the boat down and could even cause it to tip over.  You would be better off to remove that one person and go with only the 11 who were in sync, or have the out of sync person lift their paddle out of the water until they are able to paddle in sync with the others.

If we are all one body in Christ, then we need to make sure we are all paddling together.  There will be times we need to lift our paddles and rely on the others to make up the difference, but we shouldn't expect them to carry us forever.  We all need to do our part as the body of Christ.  We need to follow the leader and ensure we are in sync.  This means we need to tune in through daily prayer and listen for  our turn to paddle.