Archive | April 2012

Spring for change

Do you get excited about making a change in your life only to become discouraged because the results don’t come fast enough? Whether you’re starting a new business, ramping up an old one, writing a first-time novel or trying to lose weight, it can be easy to get discouraged when the transformation to success seems negligible or slow in coming. (Feel free to add your own desired changes. I know I’m not alone in this.) 

If you live in an area where you experience the cold of winter, you know how excited you get about the tiny changes that bring spring. Even a blade of grass that turns from its brown winter coat to brilliant green shouts to all who notice that spring is definitely on the way. One sign provokes a search for additional ones like buds popping up on trees, perennials poking their way through the hard earth, and of course, birds singing from high branches. Each day is part of the transition, whether we see something happening or not, yet you relish the fact spring is coming. 

Why is it then that we humans become so discouraged when we don’t see what we want overnight? If we are consistent in following the right paths, won’t we see results? Perhaps I should take heart in the lesson God teaches from nature. If it takes Him days, weeks or months to complete the process, who am I to give up so early when I don’t see the finished product? 

The next time I get down about my slower-than-desired progress, I’m going to remember the time element involved in spring. Then I’m going to spring for change … in me.

Words on the page

Random words on a page do little to make the world a better place, but when you put them together in an orderly way, they have power for both good and evil. They can bring comfort or destruction, clarity or confusion, direction or uncertainty and humor or pain.   

Some people have a special knack for putting words together that when delivered, they inspire and motivate others to positive action. They edify the listener or reader. You can attribute this, in part, to the testimony of the person speaking, but the words themselves often contain power beyond their original intent. Such words can pierce to the very core of the human heart challenging perspectives and providing opportunities. It is these words, we often continue to quote, attaching the credentials of the man or woman who first penned them and sharing them to encourage or exhort others. Consider these examples:

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

~ Martin Luther King

“A people that value its privileges above its principles will soon lose both.”

~ Dwight Eisenhower 

Walk the Talk has compiled a short movie clip of some leadership quotes. Maybe you’ll enjoy them as much as I did. Too busy to check them out right now? Then you’ll like these words of wisdom from Abraham Lincoln: 

“The best thing about the future is it comes one day at a time.”

Come and get it

 Have you ever seen an eagle swim? Click here to see for yourself.

A good friend sent this video to me. Perhaps it’s on an email circuit from your friends as well, but one thing stood out. Apart from the fact I had no idea an eagle could sit on the water like a duck and then swim a modified butterfly stroke, I had to marvel at his perseverance. Granted his growling stomach drove him on, but it seems that there might be more of a lesson learned beyond a picnic at the lake. 

We cannot be certain how hungry our friend was in order to determine his motivation. Was this meal the eagle’s first of the day or did it give the appearance of a quick and easy snack? Regardless, our buddy accepted the challenge, even though it took four failures before he realized success. Maybe observing the eagle will help me (and you as well) to persevere with new adventures or difficult situations. 

Saw the opportunity – Even from great heights above, his eagle eye spotted a meal in the midst of the water. 

Envisioned himself successful – He pictured himself partaking of the delicate morsels. 

Planned to succeed – Stephen Covey would say he “had the end in mind from the beginning,” and he decided to go for it. 

Tried the easiest approach first – Swooping down and picking prey out of the water  had worked before, so that was the natural approach. If it worked, great. If not, something else would. 

Assessed the situation – The first try didn’t bring lunch. Maybe he was just off his game a bit, so he tried again being conscious of the entire process.   

Tweaked his program – Making adjustments along the way, he kept trying. You have to give him credit. 

Took a less conventional approach to meet the goal – Though I’ve now learned that eagles can swim, they generally choose a more conventional mode to prepare their meals. This eagle must have also read Robert Frost as he took the road less traveled and it made all the difference. Maybe his method will also work for me.

Just send me an email

God does not send email, though in the busyness of our lives, wouldn’t it be helpful if He did? How great would that be for us? If, when we were tempted in thought or deed, the software’s application ding would alert us, “You’ve got mail.” The Lord could use the red exclamation point to indicate a really important message and highlight the main problem in the subject line so that we could read just that part if we were really pressed for time. The body of the email could contain pertinent details and a bulleted action plan for us to follow to avoid sin or accomplish some great work on His behalf.

How would we respond to His communications? Would we scan it to see which ones we really wanted to open? Would we read the subject line to determine whether or not we even wanted to bother opening it? Would we drag it into one of our files to read it later only to have later never come? Would we look at it and treat it like Spam? Would we become overwhelmed or discouraged?

Fortunately for us, the Lord does not send email. If He did, the application ding would be constant and deafening. The web networks would crash from overload and every email would be from Him with a red exclamation point preceding the subject line. The Lord is not interested in using our manmade technology to communicate with us. He’s created nature and inspired the Scriptures to tell us all that we need. And, He’s gone one step better. He’s given those who have accepted His free gift of salvation, the indwelling Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God  , and He helps our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we should. The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

No, God does not use email. He has a much more efficient tool. The question is, will we listen?

What’s the use?

If you’ve had the opportunity to visit a botanical garden like Longwood Gardens in the outskirts of Philadelphia, you know firsthand about the fantastic displays both indoors and out. It is an awesome experience. You make your way through the various buildings and flora-lined walkways, but as hard as you try, you just can’t take it all in on one visit. 

Can you imagine how many people and how much effort goes into making each garden bloom on cue according to the seasons? (You don’t grow poinsettias in April or daffodils in October.)  They do all of this while maintaining the grounds and facility in readiness for a vast number of tourists seven days a week. Think, too, about the challenges these horticultural wizards face between the elements of time and weather alone. It goes without saying they tackle other obstacles on a daily basis. Yet they achieve outstanding results because they continually focus on the plan. To the outside world, it looks easy. 

As we go through various seasons in our lives, we, like Longwood Gardens, must adjust to new expectations. At times, this requires a total makeover. All of this reinvention requires prayer, organization, time and action in order for a successful change to take place while life goes on and business continues as usual. Some days you can remain on task and schedule, while on others it seems you meet obstacles at every turn. When this happens, return to the plan (or make one if you started off without one), refocus, make adjustments as necessary and move forward.    

Doing this may be difficult. You could find a host of people and situations to blame or throw your hands in the air crying, “What’s the use,” but that won’t get you Longwood results.

What do we celebrate?

Is it just me or have you also noticed how easily celebrations can get off track and how involvement with the event itself can make you miss the reason for the observance? 

Take Christmas for example. It’s so easy to become distracted with baking, cooking, decorating, shopping and attending holiday functions. We sometimes forget the real reason for the season is Jesus’ birth.  Yet once reminded, we like God’s gift to us in the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger. 

It’s more involved when we think of Easter. When we try to make our way past the baskets, bonnets and bunnies, do we remember that God sent His Son specifically for this resurrection day? His feet once bound with cloths for warmth climbed a hill carrying a cross. His tiny hands once touching blades of straw were punctured by huge nails to bind Him to a cross. He tasted death on that cross to pay the price for sin, but He rose again from the dead victorious over the grave.

And to think, God planned all of this before the creation of the world because He knew all of us would need a Savior. Wow! 

May you enjoy the blessings of Jesus’ resurrection this Easter. This is what we celebrate.

Just one more time

I enjoy putting my thoughts down on paper or online. Yet in this fast-paced world in which we live, I’m often faced with the temptation to write and post or write and print without looking over my copy one more time. You can be sure the times I give in and don’t review, I end up wishing I had. 

In retrospect, I have learned to watch carefully for mistakes in grammar, punctuation, spelling, typing and context. I find reading things aloud also helps me to spot problems. If my writing holds more significance, I ask someone else to proofread it for me. A second set of eyes are always beneficial because your brain actually corrects things as you read. Uncaught errors could produce hazardous results, although others like these church bloopers might actually cause you to laugh out loud. 

Bottom line: Enjoy the bloopers, but read through your work just one more time.