Thursday, July 23, 2015

Everything Has A Cycle

Have you ever tried to run an annual program or event and noticed that some years you had more success than others? This can be true on a larger business or school scale, but also on the smaller family scale. Maybe you've always had a summer BBQ for the employees or carnival for the kids or big fundraising event. Maybe you've tried devotedly to plan a family reunion. Some years the logistics will fall into place and seem effortless. Perhaps it's the weather or the season or maybe it's just the cycle of life. For every good year, though, there's undoubtedly going to be a down year. But don't give up.
When your children are younger it's easier to just pack them into the car along with the blanket and cooler and make it to the family picnic, but then something happens. They grow up. They get married and have new family responsibilities. They get jobs and have schedules. Not too worry. I have faith that everything happens for a reason and every life has its seasons. But like seasons ... they will return. We just need to be patient and wait. Yes, it can be frustrating when you believe you're the only one who thinks an event is important enough to pursue, but often it's just about the timing. People will say how busy they are, but then you need to remind them that 'everyone gets busy'.
I think it's more about reminding ourselves of what's really important. We can plan all we want for the future and be busy, busy, busy right now. But what if something unforeseen happens? What if someone gets sick? What if someone loses a job? What if someone gets a new job and their schedule gets busier? We ALL get busy. We ALL have responsibilities. None of us are any busier than someone else. No one person's time is any more valuable. I think we all need to give a little, be a little more flexible, and make some choices.
Go ahead and plan that event. Plan the vacation. Plan the reunion. Set the date to get together for lunch with friends. Not everyone will be able to make it to everything, but be thankful for the ones who make the effort and feel it's important enough to be there. Sure, some obstacles are unavoidable and understandable, but sometimes we just need to make the big choices and decide what's important. Remember though ... just because something is important to you doesn't mean it'll be equally  important to someone else. That's o.k. Everything has a cycle and if meant to be everything will come back around in time.
What have you had trouble planning lately? What have your biggest obstacles been?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Cow vs. Pig

Recently I heard a story about a conversation between a cow and a pig. The pig was complaining that everyone made negative remarks about him; about his cleanliness, his attitude, his manners, etc. Yet he pointed out to the cow that everyone seemed to like the cow. The cow tried to encourage the pig about his worth and told him to think of all the positive things he had to offer. The cow claimed that he gave milk and cream. The pig replied, 'OK, but I give ham and bacon!' But the cow pointed out, 'BUT I give milk and cream while I'm alive. You can't give your good things until AFTER you're gone.'

Ouch! Guess the cow was wise beyond his years. He made a good point though. We need to ask ourselves whether it's better to give all our worth as a legacy or be able to share our goodness while we're living.

In Matthew 6:19-21 it says 'Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.' 
Give of yourself the way God would want you too while you're able to and while your heart can be part of the giving. God will embrace your goodness and your selfless behavior. Whether you choose to give by helping someone financially who needs assistance, by helping your neighbor fix his flat tire, or by providing some childcare time - you should give to others because it is right. We shouldn't hold tight to everything (our finances, our talents, or our time); saving it for a rainy day or saving it all for ourselves. We should be open and willing to give where and when we can.
So, while I know 'bacon' is an awesome thing ... let's try to live a bit more in the present. What have you given lately?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Taking A Mental Break

Does your daily routine and lack of a good sleep pattern have you concerned? Do you currently have a lot on your plate? Today's world keeps us more than busy with jobs, responsibilities as  a parent, and the stresses of caring for our homes, our spouses, our children, and for many - our aging parents.

Do you take the time to notice the signs that you need a break? Perhaps you're feeling overworked. Perhaps you have a difficult time turning your brain off at night to go to sleep. Perhaps your eating patterns are off. If you're like me you know you have too much going on when you're using a Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. to clean your house and catch up on paying bills. You might ask yourself, 'Where did the rest of my week go?'

I don't always mean to fill up my days with 28 hours of 'stuff', but LIFE happens and as a result best intentions for a calm and peaceful week can get postponed.

Here's what I think (for what it's worth) ...
  • We need to notice the signs that we're overworked or overwhelmed.
  • We need to be willing to acknowledge that we need a break; at least a mental break.
  • We need to grab the opportunities that present themselves to us to take that needed break.
The opportunities are there and they can be pretty simple, but at the same time pack a great punch.
  • Take a 20 minute walk in the park.
  • Stop for a cup of coffee or iced tea and don't drink it at your desk or in your car.
  • Play hooky and eat lunch someplace other than your desk; although many forget to even eat lunch.
  • Give yourself permission to go see a 2-hour movie. Seriously ... it's just 2 hours, but will allow your brain an opportunity to think about something different for a change.
A mental break is not just important, but it's beneficial. It recharges your spirit. It can lower the height of your shoulders by an inch (if you're like me and tend to keep them raised up around your ears most of the time). It can help you sleep, help you think more clearly, and perhaps even make you laugh or smile.

What do you do for a good mental break? Do you find that it helps? Do you find yourself feeling guilty (like I do) when you finally take it?

Monday, July 6, 2015

How's Your Navigation?

Life can be a lot like a road map. It's easier to get to our destination or goals with clear and precise directions. I doubt anyone likes the unexpected twists and turns that cause our travel time to take longer. Most people prefer to be direct. Our time is limited. If we have a goal in life, we most likely want to get there and feel accomplished sooner, rather than later. Detours make us change our path and often delay us. Sometimes, if we don't know exactly where we are going, we can easily get off track or even lost.

When driving some place new do you check your GPS for directions? Last week the map portion of my car's navigation system stopped working. In spite of the fact that prior to my current car I'd never had a navigation system, I suddenly felt vulnerable. What if I needed to know if a side street went through to a main street? What if I wanted to know how much further I needed to drive to get to where I was going? What if there was an accident and I needed to come up with an alternate route?
Cars and traveling aside, have you ever felt this kind of vulnerability in your life? Are you more productive going after your goals if you have a well-planned outline to follow? Do you think better on the fly with the twists and turns that come with unplanned detours? Are you good at tweaking your approach on any given day if needed? Basically ... do you function well without your life maps?
Have you found yourself getting off course lately?