Changing For A Change

Journaling is something that I really enjoy doing.  I like its reflective aspects, as well as how it causes me to look forward with an eager anticipation of the good things to come.  I just feel like I do life better when I’m journaling versus when I’m not.

The problem I have, is that I’m incredibly inconsistent in my journal writing.

I’ve decided that I need to greatly increase the frequency of my journal writing this year.  As such, I’ve changed a couple of things that I expect will cause my journal writing frequency to increase, not just this year, but for many years to come.

For starters, I’ve been waking up 15 minutes earlier.  (I know, “What a novel idea!”)  I’ve also, integrated journaling as part of my morning routine, right between reading the Bible and eating my morning oatmeal.  My morning routine is solidly established, so by getting up a little earlier, and adding journaling between 2 regular activities, I stand a very high chance of making journaling an established part of the routine as well.

I’ve also made a couple other changes that are more conducive to journaling, like where I sit when I read the Bible, and keeping my journal in that location.  That way, it’s already there when I show up to read.

This year, I determined that I needed to make a change (or two) in order to make journaling a regular habit.  The problem I’ve had in the past is that I’ve always wanted to journal more, but I didn’t change anything significant to cause that to happen.  So far, I’m off to a good start!

Are there any changes you need to make for a change?

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Switching Gears

With the days getting shorter, and it getting darker earlier in the Pacific Northwest, I’m getting back to one of my favorite fall and winter pastimes: reading at night.  It’s one of the events I look forward to as summer wanes and fall approaches. 

Somewhere around 60-90 minutes before bedtime, I like to grab a pillow, a blanket, a book, and head for the sofa and spend my remaining moments of the day with a good book.  Our cats have become aware of these queues and are eager to join me on the sofa.  They don’t seem to mind what I read, as long as I stay put long enough for them got get a good pre-bedtime nap in.

During the spring and summer, when its light out right up until bedtime, I like to be outside or doing something more active.  However, dark, cooler, and often rainy nights are more conducive to a passive activity like reading.  It’s like nature giving me permission to slow down and relax.  Plus, by the time spring rolls around, I’m eager to start getting after it again.

Are there any activities that you look forward to as the seasons change?  If so, be sure to take part in them, and enjoy the time spent in said activities. 

A Quick Thought On Getting Along

Lately, I’ve been reminded of the obvious truth that the success and happiness we experience in life is largely due to do with how well we are able to get along with other people.

This truth reminds me that how I treat people and interact with them matters.  If I want assistance, kindness, or grace from others, then I need to offer these things to those around me. 

It seems to me, from my experience on both the giving and receiving end, that life is much better when I’m getting along with fellow-Earthly-travelers, than when I lead with demanding my own way, or thinking that the world revolves around me.  It has been proven multiple times, that the world, indeed, does NOT revolve around me, or any other single person.

Getting along with others doesn’t mean that I default to capitulating what I want or need, simply for the sake of getting along.  Rather, I see it as being considerate of the needs of others, in addition to my own needs.

Isn’t that what we all want: for others to be considerate of us?  If that’s the case, let’s make sure we’re doing likewise for others.

The Most Beautiful Thing

Last Friday evening, my wife and I were on a flight back from a week-long vacation in Boston, when I noticed the shape of a large man walking down the aisle.  As I looked up from my book, I was surprised, and captivated, by the scene I saw.

Securely cradled in this man’s arms was a 1-year-old baby boy (I talked to the man later, and he told me the boy’s age) who was sound asleep.  This dad was walking up and down the aisle of the airplane gently bouncing and rocking his sleeping son, in an effort to keep him soothed and comfortably asleep.  From the baby’s contentedly limp posture, I’d say this dad was doing an excellent job!

After watching this scene for several minutes, I nudged my wife and pointed out the scene to her.  After she saw it, I leaned over and said, “That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve seen all week.”

I’m always impressed by dads that are engaged in the lives of their young children.  We all hear stories of dead-beat dads or absentee fathers, so I’m especially awestruck when I see a dad who is shattering these aforementioned sub-par pictures of fatherhood. 

Here’s to all you dads out there who are actively and positively engaged in raising your kids.  Your children are blessed call you dad.

Trust

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I don’t trust anyone!”?  Have you ever said that yourself?  That comment makes me laugh, because each one of us puts our trust into others more than we realize.

For example, we trust that:

  • Cooks and staff at the restaurants we eat in are observing the proper health and safety procedures related to food storage, handling, and preparation
  • Letter carriers will deliver a correspondence you drop in the mail in an accurate and timely fashion
  • Gas pumps actually pump the type and grade of gasoline listed on the pump, versus diesel, water, or some liquid other that what the pump says.
  • Other drivers will stop when a traffic light is red, go when it’s green, and drive the proper direction in traffic, rather than just going whichever direction in whichever lane they feel like.

In all these examples, and hundreds of other daily scenarios, we are counting on others to be trustworthy.  This thought reminds me that others are expecting us to be trustworthy as well.  Let’s live in a way that the trust others have in us is well-placed.

On Apologizes

This week, I had an interaction with someone where I could have behaved better than I did. What I knew I needed to do was offer an apology. Here’s the thing, when we know we need to make an apology: we can come up with all sorts of reasons not to.

It’s no different for me either. In fact, I was running through several reasons why I didn’t need to make the apology. My lame excused ranged from, “They probably don’t even remember the incident” to “I’ve got other things I need to be doing” to every other excuse in between. I told you they were lame.

In the end, I made the apology before my workday started. I decided it was, indeed, important and needed to be done. The person who I apologized to was gracious and said that they appreciated it.

All that to say, if you owe someone an apology, make it. Don’t wait, or put it off, or think of reasons to keep from doing it, because the person you owe the apology to deserves it.

Gratitude For The Skill Of Others

We just had the opener for our garage door replaced, and I’m so grateful to the person who came out and installed it for us.

I’m not the handiest guy in the world.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some things I’m really good at, but installing stuff, like a garage door opener, is not one of them.  That’s why I’m grateful for the skills of others, and their willingness to offer those skills, be it in the market place, or out of their own generosity.

It reminds me that each of us have skills that we can offer others.  The skills we have may not seem like much to us, but to those who don’t have those skills, they’re valuable.  Therefore, since we all rely on the skills of others (when our skill level falls short) we should be willing to offer the skills we have to others. 

It’s a great way to thank those who have offered their skills to help us.

Doubling Down

This week’s post has a bent toward those of us who are Jesus followers.  Be forewarned.  😊

My family has been facing some challenging days recently with the passing of a significant family member.  Without going into details, a common question my siblings and I have been asking is, “How should we respond to some of the challenging behaviors of others?”. 

For me, the answer has been, “Double down on Jesus”. 

As a Christian, my goal is to follow Jesus’ teachings as laid out in Scripture, and align my life as closely as I can with Him.  That’s easy to do when things are going well, but it can be a different story when life gets challenging, and Jesus’ teaching feel totally contrary to how the world tells us we should respond or behave. 

When I find myself at this intersection with Jesus and the world, I pose some form of the following question to myself: “Jesus gives us very clear instruction on how we’re to behave as followers of His.  I either believe what Jesus says, or I don’t.  So, which is it?” 

This is the point where I double down on Jesus.

I decide that yes, I DO believe what He says, and, yes, I WILL align myself and my actions with His teaching.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t always easy. To the contrary, it’s often very difficult.  However, Jesus never promised that we wouldn’t have difficulty or troubles.  He did promise that He’d be with us when we face them.  I have also found Him faithful in carrying us through difficult times, when we choose to follow Him and be obedient to His teaching, event when it’s difficult.

I’ve also realized that I don’t just need to double down on Jesus when times are tough.  I need to double down on Jesus every single day by spending time with Him, reading my Bible, and applying what I learn. 

Because I either believe what He says, or I don’t… and I do!

A Pleasantly Unexpected Perspective

This week I was at an equipment rental place renting a couple carpet blowers.  The need for the carpet blowers involved a bathroom remodel, a piece of less-than-adequate piece of cardboard, and a cat.  That’s a story for another day.  Rest assured; everything ended well.

While I was at the rental shop the employee (James) took me in back to show me the carpet blowers they had.  They looked good to me, so I said, “I’ll take 2 of them”.  James proceeded to take clean off the carpet blowers and carry both of them to the checkout stand.  I asked if I could carry one of them for him, but he said he had them, so we proceeded to the front to check out. 

As we headed toward the front, there was a door we had to go through that was closed.  I told James, “Here, let me get the door for you.  I might as well make myself useful”.  To which James replied, “You’re a customer.  I consider that itself being useful.”

I was pleasantly shocked.  From that statement, it’s clear that James doesn’t see customers to his shop as a burden or an annoyance, but rather as the reason he’s in business in the first place.  His comment seemed so contrary to other places we’ve all visited where, as a customer, we feel like an interruption or an irritation to the employees.  Based on James comment, I can guarantee that his is the only shop I’ll ever go to in the future when I need an equipment rental.

May we all take a page from James’s playbook and be mindful of the importance of the customers we may serve.

Smile Because It Happened

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”  ~Dr. Seuss

I came across this quote last week and it’s such a great reminder about perspective and also about how to handle ending. Since endings are a part of every life, it feels that this quote from Dr. Seuss is applicable for all of us.

There are a number of things that come to an end:

  • A season of life
  • An event
  • A place we enjoy visiting
  • A business we enjoy frequenting
  • A friendship
  • A life

To be clear, some of the endings on this list are more impactful than others, and deserve tears as part of the healing process.  That said, I think that remembering the experience or the person lost with smile, and gratitude for the experience, helps us move forward in away that allows us to remain open to new people and experiences yet to come.  What a shame it would be to close ourselves off to trying new things or getting close to people because we are afraid of the tears that may come with loss.

Dr. Seuss’s quote also reminds me that I don’t have to wait until something is over to smile about it.  I can do so even while it’s happening.  😊