Monday, September 29, 2008

Three Things ...

Amazing things happen when I meet new people.

Recently, an artist, a tai chi instructor and thinker-about-life (Tommi) gave me three things she teaches:
Let go
Keep it simple

I grabbed a piece of paper to write ‘em down.

Let go … wow! … I sometimes hang on to old idea, memory, hurt … I turn it over and over again, examining it as if it were a piece of fine glass, when what I really need to do is wrap them it and throw it into the trash like fish gone bad.

Keep it simple … life can be reduced to some pretty basic things: love consistently, forgive quickly, remember God, you are always more than you think you are, and appreciate the world around you.

Flexible … change with changing circumstances. Nothing stands still, always something. I wonder how much time I’ve spent wishing things were different. Flexibility allows us to discover the good, the promise, the possibility, in everything, even the hard stuff. A good shortstop never waits for the ball to come to him, though it sometimes does, but is ready to go to the ball.

Thanks Tommi for putting these three things together for me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Luck and Work

I’ve know some wealthy people – two men stand out in my mind, both friends, both Christians, both members of churches I’ve served.

My thoughts on this were triggered this morning by something I heard on TV: “Ya’ know how to spell luck? W O R K.”

I’ve heard it before, and all around the town, and from one of the men noted above.

When he said, many years ago to me, I was uneasy about it, and hadn’t heard it for awhile until this morning.

I’m still uneasy about it, because it’s not true.

Millions, if not billions, of people work hard, from sunup to sundown, and then some. Year after year of grinding hard work, and nary a break to be had, and just a heartbeat away from abject poverty, and no hope of ever breaking free.

The family in Sudan … the beggar in Calcutta … the farmer in Nepal … and a lot of folks right here in the US of A.

The other rich man spoke at the Rotary Club one day and told of all the free lunches he’s enjoyed: the parents he didn’t choose, the intelligence bequeathed to him in his DNA, the spirit of the family, its faith and its love. The college professors who encouraged him. The first banker who believed in him and loaned him seed-money. And all along the trail, one free lunch after the other. Did he work hard? You bet he worked hard, but he was a man who understood grace and was himself a gracious man.

The other man, the hard-work-equals-good-luck kinda of a guy was a charitable man, but with an edge that revealed itself ultimately in an unrelenting self-centeredness that destroyed his family.

He didn’t understand grace, and thus no grace was given. Everyone and everything in his little world had to fit into the niche of personal achievement. And so it goes. Did he work hard? Yes, morning, noon and night and then some, and fabulously wealthy.

Two men, both super-rich. The one who turned it all on himself, and the other who recognized the free lunch.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 Remembered

Tragedy is always personal.

3000 lives were lost in the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings ... a lot of families and friends were sent into the Valley of the Shadow Death.

For them, let us pray:

Eternal God,
To whom we all belong,
Grant mercy to the sorrowing.
Heal shattered souls.
Restore hope and rebuild faith.
Especially for the children, O God.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mothers - First Life, Second Life

A friend of mine, Darren King, wrote this in honor of his wife, Deborah, a stay-at-home Mom now an artist.

The image to the right is entitled "Good Water" and can be found at her blog - Indigo Jones Studios.

There's the first life you live -
the one where you help
your little boy clean himself
after with limited success
he's used his big-boy potty seat
and then you wipe up the
cat puke in the foyer
you swiffered the night before
after Letterman.
It's the life where
piles of laundry rule your space
but you've grown to ignore
them as a strong-hold defense
against insanity.
Make the beds, wash the dishes,
vacuum the floors, you're too
busy to make lists and by evening
you're waiting for your husband
so you can start dinner.
And when, finally, he arrives he's late
and smells of his lunch he ate
peacefully in a nice restaurant
with his colleagues -
all of whom are over the age of four.
He comes in through the front door,
unscrews the top of his head, places his brain
on the table in the hall and asks,
"How was your day?"
Your second life
is the one where you imagine yourself
among your artists acquaintances
on a sunny Thursday afternoon
in a University town,
the streets have been blocked off,
you're in a white tented-booth
with your name on the outside,
listed above the town you're from,
your artist booth number.
You sip vendor lemonade as
your shoulders pink over the day
and you talk with attractive,
culturally-sensitive people who
upon approaching your work
ask you many interesting questions -
none of which have to do with laundry,
the best swiffer or pet vomit.
You love your children.
You love your husband.
But at least once a day, every day,
the possibility of your second life
will see you through
the reality of your first.

- Darren King

Friday, September 5, 2008

Problem Solving

I just solved a problem.

Not a big one … had to do with TV, DVDs, programming, etc.. You know, the kind of stuff that drives ya’ nuts.

But with some googling and experimenting, I got it. And was I happy!

People are problem-solvers; it’s our nature, and I’ve learned the three Ps pathway to problem solving: Persistence, Patience and Prayer.

Persistence – stay with it; try alternatives.
Patience – don’t lose your cool; there IS a way, and you will find it.
Prayer – a simple “Jesus my LORD” to stay in touch with God.

My “problem” was a small one, but it taught me a lesson I’ve learned and had to learn so many times.

There IS a way.
You WILL find it.

Maybe not today, or even tomorrow … and some problems require months and years – ask a scientist or an engineer working on a satellite launch.

Anyway, no big deal for me, but I’m happy to have solved the problem.

Whatever your problems might be today – and some of them are huge – you WILL find a way through … you WILL work it out … you WILL succeed.

Persistence, Patience and Prayer.