Saying Yes

As I was sitting down to write my weekly blog post, I got a text asking if I’d like to come over to someone’s house for dinner.  Initially, I thought about all the stuff that I wanted to get done that night, and that I should say, “No”. However, I then pondered just how important, really, were the things I’d be doing if I said, “No” to the invitation.  I replied to the text with, “I’ll be there!”

Sometimes when we get opportunities to do things, we think about reasons that would keep us from saying, “Yes”.  I’m going to challenge that line of thinking and start looking for reasons to accept.  This is just another reminder for me to be intentional with my choices versus defaulting to getting stuff done.

Sorry for the short post this week, but I’ve got a dinner engagement to get to!

Introductions From Others

I’m currently listening to the audio book “Music is History” by Questlove.  One thing I’m really enjoying about this book so far is the introductions Questlove has indirectly given me to artists and songs I might not have encountered on my own.  I’m just a few chapters in, and already, I’ve been listening to a handful of new songs and “favorited” a couple of artists in Spotify.  I’m grateful he took the time to write this book and share some of his favorites with the rest of us.

Be on the lookout for these indirect introductions throughout your day.  They could be recommendations from friends, suggestions of things to do this weekend from the evening news, or suggestion on a website.  It’s a great way to experience something new, and maybe even discover a new favorite.

You’ll Find It

Here’s a quick reminder that we tend to find more of what we’re looking for. 

If we feel like the world is going crazy, we’ll notice things that reinforce that thought.  If we think all <insert people group> are jerks, we’ll notice evidence that supports that too.  We’ll find all the negativity we want, when we have our radar up for it.

Likewise, we’ll also notice the good in the world when our radar is looking for it.  When we’re looking for acts of kindness, generosity, and inspiring human behavior, we’ll find it. 

So what are you looking for?   

Think On These Things

It’s been a wild couple of weeks on the geo-political scene.  There have been so many horrific and heart-breaking images coming out of Ukraine and so much coverage of the events that it can feel overwhelming.  And while it’s good to be informed of what’s going on in the world, I don’t think it’s good for us to be over-saturated with information.   There needs to be some boundaries on how much information we’re consuming on a devastating topic.

It’s natural to want to know the latest with regard to a major world event, but I think it’s also important to make sure we’re allowing some positive content into our minds as well.  I like specifically like the encouragement we get from Philippians 4:8 where we’re told to think about things that are:

  • True
  • Noble
  • Right
  • Pure
  • Lovely
  • Admirable
  • Excellent
  • Praiseworthy

This is such a good and timely reminder to make sure that, in addition to news, we’re also filling our mind with content that will encourage and lift us up.  If all we’re consuming is the daily news, we’re going to be left feeling anxious, afraid, depressed, and exhausted, and who wants to go around feeling like that all day?

Be mindful in the days ahead (every day, actually) to fill your mind with encouraging and uplifting content that evokes inspiration, gratitude, and joy.  It’s out there, we just have to make sure we’re noticing.

I Don’t Have Time

On Wednesday afternoon, I heard from a friend that her husband’s surgery that we’ve been praying about went great, with “no surprises”.   I love that kind of news!  I was so grateful to hear it and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude to God.  As I was praying, and enjoying the moment, I was reminded that I don’t have time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got time to give God praise all day long, but in that moment, what struck me was that I don’t have time for things like:

  • Things that cause division between people
  • Holding grudges
  • Negativity
  • Judging others
  • Needless worry (which most worry is)
  • Spending time with consistently negative people
  • Harboring negative thoughts
  • Listening to the endless stream of outrage, hate, and anger
  • Consuming content that leads to any of the bullet points above

I’m so grateful to God, not just because of my friend’s good surgery report, but because of who He is and what He’s done for me. 

Out of that gratitude, I realize that I don’t have time to waste like that. 

Anticipation

It’s been a gray rainy winter in the Pacific Northwest where I live.  Long nights and gray days are pretty normal this time of year.  While I actually like the end of fall and beginning of winter, after the Christmas and New Year holidays are over, I’m ready for some sunnier days.  Fortunately, sunny days are also something that is not uncommon in the PNW either.

About every winter, we get these beautiful days where, while the weather is still cold, the sun is out and the sky is this clear brilliant blue.  Couple that with some frost in the morning, and you have a wonderful start to your day!  There’s something about a sunny break in the winter, no matter what the temperature is, that gets me excited for the day ahead, as well as the Spring season that is not too far away. 

I anticipate these sunny days every winter.  Days like that cause me to thank God and make me grateful to be alive.

So, what are you anticipating?  A change in the weather, an upcoming event?  I think it’s important to have something we’re looking forward to, no matter how big or small.   It gives us an excitement about the days ahead.  And personally, like my pastor says, I believe the best is yet to come!

Reintegrating Old Habits

There are 2 things I especially enjoy about the month of January.  I love the fact that January means that Spring is only a couple of months away!  January is also a great time to look back on your life and take stock of how you’ve been doing, and to also look ahead and make adjustments.  I love that process!  This year especially, because I’ve identified a few old habits that I’d like to make a more-regular part of my life in 2022 and in the years ahead.

First, I’d like to get back into the habit of consuming personal development material.  Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of books and listening to podcasts about biographies and historic events, which have been very interesting and enjoyable.  However, this month I started listening to personal development podcasts and reading books on the same topic.  I have been reminded what a boost this kind of content is to my attitude and outlook.  This is something I want more of.

I’ve also started exploring options for regional travel.  I live in the Pacific Northwest and there are all sorts of cool places to get out and see and explore.  A lot of our travel over the past few years (not counting COVID years) has been out of the region.  While we still want to do plenty of other travel, we’re also focusing on seeing what’s to us in the PNW.   I’m finding there’s plenty of adventure out there just waiting for us to discover it.

Finally, I’ve started journaling again.  This is one habit that I’ve had a hard time sticking to long term.  I seem to have seasons where I’m journaling more, but I’d really like to make this a regular daily habit.  The reason is because I’m just better personally when I’m journaling regularly.  My thinking feels clearer, I feel more observant and engaged in life, and I like the ability to go review what I’ve read in years past.  It chronicles my own personal growth journey.

What habits to you have (or have had) that you’d like to make a more regular part of your life?  Give it some thought, and when you come up with something, put systems in place to ensure the behavior does, indeed, become a habit.  Your future self is rooting for you!       

I’m Glad I Noticed

I’ve been playing the electric bass guitar on the worship team at my church for about 3 years.  One of the many things I enjoy about being on the worship team is the view I get from being on stage.  It’s fun to look out and see the people in the audience and even the others on stage.  And sometimes, I’m fortunate to see things other people don’t.

For example, last week during the service, we had a young family come up and read some Scripture as part of the fourth Sunday of Advent.  The family consisted of mom, dad, and two young boys, who had to be about 4 and 7.  They stood in front of me and to the right, not more than about 10 feet away.

Mom and dad each read a section of scripture before handing the microphone to the 7-year-old, who began reading his lines in a nervous young voice.  As I was watching from behind, I noticed the dad place his hand on his oldest son’s shoulder in a gesture of support.  As the boy began to read, the dad moved his hand and began gently scratching the boys back, to provide comfort and reassure him that he was doing just fine.  It was a beautiful picture of a father being present.  I’m grateful that I had a front row seat to this event… and I’m glad I noticed.

From an elderly husband holding a door open for his wife, to a reassuring touch to a child from a loving parent, to a heart-felt slap on the back from a good friend, these types of touching scenes are happening all around us, and they often go unnoticed. 

I encourage you to keep your eyes open for these occurrences around you.  Not only will it make you feel good, but may it also encourage us to go and do likewise to those we care about. 

You’re Just The Right Person

I was talking with some folks this week that mentioned they occasionally have doubt whether they belong in the career position they’re currently in, which they both enjoy.  It’s interesting to me how often we doubt our own abilities.  Especially when we’re actually doing, and enjoy, the very thing we doubt we can do.  Seems kind of funny when you think about that way. 

Usually, it’s our own thoughts that cause us to doubt our abilities.  Thought like:

  • I’m not smart enough
  • I haven’t been doing this very long
  • I feel like an imposter
  • Other people could do a much better job than I can
  • And a zillion other self-defeating thoughts.

Here’s a bit of encouragement for all of us when we begin to doubt our abilities in what we’re doing. 

If:

  • You are currently doing it
  • You enjoy doing it
  • You are actively learning and applying yourself to get better…

Then you’re just the right person to be doing what you’re doing.

It’s as simple as that.  Sure, you need a basic level of competence.  However, there is nowhere that states we’re required to be the smartest person, or to have all the answers before we can hold a position or offer our skills to the world.  If you hold a position that you enjoy, and are learning and growing in it, then you belong there.

Now that that’s settled, ditch the doubt and move forward, offering your best to what you do.  The world needs what you have to offer.

Never Get Tired Of It

Last Saturday we spend a great autumn day in Hood River Oregon.  It’s an agriculture-based region on the north side of Mt. Hood known for its apples, pears, and peaches.  In addition to the agriculture, it’s a beautiful part of the state, especially in the Fall when the leaves are changing.  Throw a clear blue sunny sky in there, (along with my sister and brother in law) and a good thing gets exponentially better!

We’ve been going to Hood River in the fall for several years now, and I never get tired of the area’s natural seasonal beauty.  Every year when I see the colors and Mt. Hood’s northern face, I’m awestruck all over again.  I can’t imagine a day when that scene would NOT spark my amazement. 

I think it’s important continue to be amazed by the beauty around us, even if we’ve seen it many times before.   There’s something about a beautiful landscape that, as my wife would say, “fills my bucket”.  I’ll never get tired of noticing such scenery.

Be on the lookout for those scenes that amaze you.  Whether it’s a landscape, a night sky, a trout stream, or any other scene, it doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is that you take the time to stop and notice it, and to remind yourself that you’ll never get tired of experiencing it.