Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Everything


"With all I am, in Your grace I stand." lyric from Love on the Line, by Hillsong Worship

All the pieces of my life, 
every decision I have made, 
everything that has been done to me and 
everything I’ve done to others. 

My hopes and aspirations, 
my failures and successes
when I felt good about myself and when I am consumed with self-loathing. 

The times I have overcome my mistakes and 
the (many) times I have repeated them. 
My insecurities, my pride, my fluctuating ego, my confidence, and my weaknesses. 

What I can do, what I can't do and 
the line that is sometimes blurred between them. 
My love for those close to me and 
my deep compassion for others traveling this journey around me. 

This is all of who I am and 
all of it is able to stand in the grace God offers me. 

This is a big, bold, stable grace 
that gives me strength to be upright when I don’t think I can stand anymore. 

It is this generous gift from God that envelops me and reminds me I am loved.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Preparation Matters


Getting ready to play a baseball game takes more preparation than you might think. Not only do the players have to go through their routines of warming up, but the playing field has to be readied as well. There are several hours of work that are necessary before the first pitch. You couldn't just decide you wanted to play a game, ignore the steps to get ready, and expect things to turn out well.

I think we forget about the need for preparation when we want to do something big in our lives. Our desire for something new or better serves as motivation for better decisions, but we falsely expect to see immediate results. Changing our physical health involves a plan for better eating and exercise. Improving our family relationships means taking the time to listen to each other, apologizing for the past, and honestly engaging each day. Taking the next step professionally means we have to excel at our current position while taking steps to improve ourselves and connect with other people. Being a vital part of our community involves ongoing honest dialogue and a willingness to enter into life with people in tangible ways.

What steps do you need to take to get ready for what's next in your own life? Commit to the necessary work of preparation as part of the path of growth and change.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Guardrails


You may or may not have noticed how often there are guardrails on the roads you travel. They appear in areas of increased risk where running off the road would bring potentially fatal damage. These structures should give us something to bounce off of to prevent us from doing too much damage to ourselves.

An author I recently read wrote about the guiding principles for her life and how they served that same function. These are the values that shape the decisions she makes and help to keep her on the best path as she pursues her life vision. It’s vital to know our own guiding principles or we run the risk of causing damage to ourselves and the people we care about.

What principles do you hold tightly to? How do these shape the way you think, speak, and act? How are they protecting you and keeping you focused in the best possible direction?

Creating the mental, emotional, and spiritual space to clearly define these principles is helpful for us to stay on the path we want to live on.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Another Step


Imagine you decided to take a trip southward and eventually ended up in Antarctica. This would take some serious maneuvering of travel modes, but it is distinctly possible that the frozen tundra of the South Pole would be your stopping place if you kept going south.

Once you arrived, you might complain about the cold temperatures and how it wasn't what you expected, but this is still the journey you chose to undertake. With a desire for warmer temperatures and a lack of enthusiasm for your surroundings, you can begin a northward trek. The truth, however, is that you won't be on a sunny beach in a short period of time. Your journey to the South Pole took a while and the warm beaches of Miami, Florida aren't quite within reach yet. You've got to keep traveling in the right direction to get where you want to be.

I see this being similar to the picture of recovery. We usually end up in predicaments (relationship, financial, mental health, habits, addictions) because of a series of choices. While we can see positive gains from a change of direction, there are still steps of healing that will take time. Committing to the process of growth and healing is a lifelong journey.

You can't change in a day what took a lifetime to create, but you can take another step in the right direction. Where do you need to take a step today?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Trying to Ignore Them


On Thursday night, an assistant coach in an NBA game stood on the court next to an opposing player in the final seconds and distracted him from taking a potential game-tying shot. (Obviously this isn't a legal move, but none of the officials caught it at the time.) The player with the ball thought it was a defender and passed up the shot before realizing it was a coach trying to confuse him. The coach ended up being fined by the NBA, but the damage was (unfairly) done and his team was victorious.

Can you identify the things that divert your attention the most? What pulls your focus away and leaves you feeling unsuccessful? Distractions pop up in very unexpected ways and won't always be fair. It takes a strong level of concentration to not be pulled away from what is most important and to complete the task in front of us. We've got to discipline ourselves to be zoned in so we can do the things that matter most.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Over and Over Again


"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." 
Will Durant (paraphrasing Aristotle)

What do we find ourselves repeatedly doing? Are they good habits leading us to future growth and maturity?  Are they negative thoughts and actions that keep us caught in cyclical patterns of frustration and apathy?

The start of a new year gives each of us an opportunity to set new goals and think about new desires for the next season. Establishing the right habits to reinforce those desires will give us the foundation to be successful. To be excellent we should look carefully at the habits we've established and start to create new ones to lead us in the right direction.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Off Schedule


Planning out each part of your day is supposed to help with productivity and staying on task. While that might be an effective planning tool, it may not accurately represent the way each day will flow. Even with careful forethought there will be unplanned interactions and events which throw us off our intended path. In fact, I would argue that interruptions are almost guaranteed. The question we each have to answer is, "How will I react when this happens?"

We can choose to get upset about these inconveniences or we can view them through a different lens. While constantly being off schedule won't be helpful, we might find that occasional interruptions lead us to experience life in new ways. It might cause us to engage in a deep conversation, meet someone new, or live out a unique moment. Perhaps it's the moments in the margin of our calendars that show us a refreshing and unexpected side of life.

When you feel off schedule, take a deep breath and look for the new experience you might have missed otherwise.