Last Sunday my wife and I went up to Mary’s Peak, the highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range. It’s a great spot that affords commanding views of the Cascades, the Willamette Valley, and the Pacific Ocean. The day we were there was sunny and beautiful, which made the scene all the more spectacular.
When my wife and I were dating (multiple decades ago) we used to go up to Mary’s Peak often. We’d go with friends to have a picnic and watch the sun set. Those were great times resulting in fond memories. We’d sit up there and talk about future events and discuss how much we enjoyed living in and exploring the Pacific Northwest. The views from Mary’s peak always left me feeling energized and excited to be alive.
Our visit last week was no different. As we hiked the summit and sat around enjoying the view, I felt the same familiar excitement I did all those years ago, and still feel today. It’s an excitement to get out and experience the world around me. An excitement to travel, try new things, to do my best at work and in my personal pursuits, to be the best husband, family member, employee, friend, and Christian I can be.
Naturally scenic settings, especially on sunny days, have always caused me to feel that way. There’s something in their beauty that makes me want to do and be my best. I was glad to see that my excitement by and for these places hasn’t changed.
Are there places that energize and cause you to want to do an be your best? I encourage you to revisit, or even discover the places or events that get you excited to be alive. Because the world needs people who excited about doing and being their best.
By the time this blog is posted, Halloween will be over, leaving Thanksgiving and Christmas rapidly approaching. As I think about where these 3 holidays fall on the calendar, it causes me to wonder if that wasn’t by design versus merely a coincidence. It seem that Thanksgiving is strategically positioned. Here’s what I mean…
On one side of Thanksgiving you have Halloween. The focus of Halloween, as I remember from childhood, is to get as much candy as you can. And based on the kidos that come to my door every year, it seems like that focus hasn’t changed. On the other side of Thanksgiving there’s Christmas, which at least in the US, can have a strong focus toward consumption and accumulation.
Right in the middle of these potentially greedy holidays, we have Thanksgiving. The focus of which (along with the great food!) is to take a moment and remember what we have to be thankful for. While giving thanks and gratitude may not be as fun as eating candy and opening presents, I think Thanksgiving serves as an important check point. Instead of letting our Halloween sugar high propel us directly into the frantic consumptive pace of the Christmas season, let’s use the Thanksgiving season as a time to tap the brakes a bit on consumption recognize all we have to be grateful for.
My guess is the blessings you currently possess are far greater than any present you’ll find under the tree this year.
This month my wife and I had our 25th wedding anniversary. Since we’re both big fans of the fall season, we decided to celebrate by going to New England (Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine) to see the leaves change colors. We had a great time being “leave peepers” and seeing all the spectacular colors and cool things in the area. I’m sure we’ll be back!
As I looked at all the magnificent scenery, I couldn’t help being overwhelmed by how creative God is. In addition to all the brilliant leaf colors, we saw everything from incredible landscapes to an amazing sunrise over the Atlantic (we’re from the west coast, so I’m used to seeing the sun set over the ocean). The natural beauty that surrounded us was a constant reminder of just how much detail and creative effort God has put into His creation. I was constantly being blown away.
Since we were on our anniversary, I couldn’t help but think that God put in that same creative effort when He created marriage (Gen 2:24). Just like a beautiful sunrise or brilliant fall colors, God created marriage to be something good, to be enjoyed by people who experience it. I for one am grateful for His creation of marriage and feel blessed to be able to experience it.
Last week my wife and I were in Acadia National Park in Maine at a little cove along the rocky shoreline. As we entered the cove we saw a young girl standing about where the waves would come ashore. With the arrival of each wave, she would stand her ground with determination, and not move back until the water had actually covered her feet. At that point, she’d scream with glee, run back a short distance, and, when the water had receded, she’d return to the point where she thought the water from the next wave would stop. She seemed to be having a great time, captivated by the surf and the environment around her.
This went on for several iterations, each time with her parents calling her name and suggesting that she move further back so as not to get wet. It was as if the girl didn’t hear her parents, or didn’t care about getting wet, because after each wave she would return to stand her ground. It was cool to see her so engaged in her present environment.
As I watched her I couldn’t help but wonder if this child’s life was being changed in this moment. Was she developing a love with the Atlantic Ocean or oceans and beaches in general? Would this moment cause a desire for her, as an adult, to want to spend time at the beach? Was I looking at a future marine biologist, or someone who will devote their life to protecting our oceans, or perhaps just a young girl who was enjoying the moment?
Regardless, I enjoyed watching this young person being so engaged with their beautiful scene they were in. And just maybe, I was fortunate enough to witness an event that will forever change her life.
We all aspire to great things, but there’s a difference between aspirations and positive results, and that difference is effort.
Most things that are beyond the ordinary require effort to achieve. Whether it’s developing a skill or talent to an extraordinary level or building a strong and sustainable marriage, lacking effort, no progress will be made.
Here’s a quick way to tell how committed you are to achieving extraordinary results in your life:
- Think of something you have wanted to improve in your life
- Ask yourself, “What effort have I continuously made it bring it about?”
If your answer to bullet number 2 is, “Not much”, then you’re not really committed to making the change. You just like the idea of the change, but aren’t committed to putting forth the effort to get you there.
While that may sound harsh, it’s that type of questioning that is crucial if we’re serious about improving ourselves.
So, you know that area of your life that you want to improve? Yes, that area! What effort have you made toward its achievement?
It’s easy to procrastinate when I feel like I have a lot of time to complete a given task. The problem I often run into when I procrastinate is that when I finally start the task, I often feel rushed and like I’m not doing my best work. Yes, many people say they work better under pressure, but from my own experience, that just hasn’t been true for me.
When I wait until the last minute to begin, I don’t have time to consider alternative approaches or solutions. Because I’ve left myself little time for the task, I need to go with the quickest solution I can come up with and complete in a short time. There’s no room to ponder, to consider different options or even to change direction when I have an “ah-ha” moment. The time I could have dedicated to exploring options was instead spent procrastinating.
I’ve realized that I do my best work when I have time to think. This realization causes me to start projects and task sooner rather than putting them off. If waiting until the last minute to start tasks has been working for you, then who am I to tell you to change? But, if you’re a chronic procrastinator, who’s not always happy with the results you get, consider starting tasks earlier. It would be worth seeing if your output would benefit from having some additional time.
I’ve got 2 fiends, each of which are on opposite sides of the political aisle, and each one has a lot to passionately say about the position. Fortunately for me, these 2 friends don’t know each other, so I won’t be finding myself in the middle of an ugly shouting match between them.
While I have my own opinions, when talking with either of these 2 friends, I find I learn more about them and their beliefs by asking questions related to why they believe what they do, and then listening to their responses. By doing so, I can quickly determine what’s important to them, what they value, and whether or not they are doing anything constructive with their opinions or merely parroting someone else’s talking points.
I’ve always been curious as to why people think and believe they way they do. While discussing heated topics, I’ve also found that when I ask the other person questions about their beliefs, they are usually more ager to at least hear an opposing or challenging belief from me.
I’m not naïve enough to think that I’ll be able to convince someone against their will. However, I do think questioning, listening to understand, and sharing thoughts is a more favorable approach to challenging conversations than the screaming and yelling that seems so pervasive in conversations today.