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!

Reminder To Enjoy It

On Wednesday, my wife informed me that the place we board our cats when we travel will be closing down.  This is a bummer for us, because we really enjoyed this place.  Whenever we dropped our cats off, we never worried about them because they received excellent care, and were always in great shape when we returned.  We will miss this place.

Again, I’m reminded of the importance of appreciating those things (and people) we enjoy while we have them, because so often things change, and they’re gone.

Be on the look out for those things you currently enjoy and look upon them with gratitude and thanksgiving, while you still have them.  And remember, while change can be sad or frustrating, it is also the vehicle by which exciting new things come into our lives.

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.

When It’s Time To Wait

We’re getting ready to do a bathroom remodel, and as part of any home improvement project, I like to get people that will be doing the work lined up and scheduled early.  For this project, I’ve had a hard time doing that because we’re waiting to know when fixtures will arrive, because the work can’t start until they do.  I was telling my wife that I feel like I’m not getting anything done or moving the project forward.  Her response was simple and accurate.  “We can’t line people up until we have all the fixtures, so right now, our job is to wait.”

She’s right.  Worrying or trying to “do” stuff won’t make things arrive any quicker.  Our next step can’t be taken until everything arrives.  Therefore, since we’ve picked out and ordered what we want, our job is done for now. 

Once I thought about her comment, I felt much better.  I can’t cause something to happen that is beyond my control.  We’ll be able to move ahead when everything arrives.  In the meantime, we just have to be patient and wait. 

Let A List Remember For You

Last week was the first week since January 2013 that I haven’t made a blog post.  I’d like to say it was because we were busy traveling last weekend, but I’ve traveled many times since 2013 and have still created a weekly blog post.  The simple excuse is, I just forgot.

Beyond just forgetting, the real reason it didn’t get posted was because I didn’t write, “Post blog” on my list of To-Do items.

I find that when I have a lot of things going on, I need a list to help me keep track of the tasks I need to complete.  Much like a grocery list, a task list helps me ensure that I don’t forget anything important I’m supposed to do.  More importantly, a task list frees up my mental capacity from having to remember to do something.  Once it’s on my list, I don’t have to spend any energy remembering to do it, because the list will remember for me.

I heard a quote once that said, “Our mind are great places for having ideas, but they’re a horrible place for storing them.”  I totally agree!  Whether paper or digital, lists are great places for remembering things like:

  • Groceries to buy at the store
  • Chores you need to complete
  • Things you need to pack for a trip
  • Books you want to read
  • Destinations you like to visit
  • People you need to contact
  • Appointments and meetings you have during the day

The next time you have a number of things to remember, instead of keeping them in your head, consider making a list.  Not only will a list help you remember what you need to do, it’s fun to cross completed items off the list!

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.

Incorrect Assumptions

A couple of weeks ago in the adult Sunday school class I lead, I made a comment about a section of Scripture.  To preface my comment I stated, “We all know this […]”.  After some discussion, one of the newer people in the class spoke up and said, “You mentioned that ‘we all know this’, but I DON’T know this.”  The comment got my attention.

It’s so easy to assume that just because we know something, everyone else must obviously know it as well.  I was reminded that this is usually not the case.  For me, it’s important to be aware of this reality, so that I don’t inadvertently exclude people from classroom discussions, dialog in a meeting, or even a simple conversation by assuming they know what is being discussed.

I like to include people versus excluding them.  What I learned from the Sunday school class exchange is to stop assuming that folks know something and actually give space to check that assumption.  If my assumption is correct, great!  We can move forward.  If, however, my assumption is incorrect, then that presents a great opportunity for discussion to help bring others along, and event to learn something new myself.

There’s enough division and exclusion going on in the world, that I don’t need to add to it in my conversations and interactions.  How much better it is to test and assumption and gain clarification, than to move forward with the assumption, only to find out that it was incorrect.

Play The Long Game

Disciplined behavior in the moment can be challenging when we’re trying to achieve a goal.  Whether it’s fitness, good health, financial, relational, or any other long-term goal, it’s easy to get knocked off track in the moment.  What I’ve found helpful for staying disciplined toward the pursuit of a goal is to play the long game.

By that, I mean to look way into the future to what achieving this goal looks like.  For example, I want to live a healthy life.  That goal is way too vague to withstand the temptations (like ice cream!) that that present themselves on a daily basis that are perpendicular to my goal.  Instead, I frame my goal with a bent toward that future.  Rather than having a goal to “live a healthy lifestyle”, I have a goal to be an active, engaged, curious, ninety-year-old who is in excellent physical condition. 

I’m playing the long game by focusing on the person I want to become when I turn 90.  This focus helps me consider my choice on a daily, monthly, weekly, and yearly basis.  The question I present myself with is, “are the choices I’m making (in relation to diet, finances, relationships, intellectual development, and spiritual growth) or have been making, leading me closer to or further from the person I want to be in my 90s”?  If the answer is, “Yes”, I move keep making those choices.  If my answer is “No”, then I consider modifying my behavior.

Playing the long game helps give my life daily direction.  I know where I want to go, so all I need to do now is make sure my choices are taking there.

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. 

Reminder That We Need Each Other

I had a good laugh with the pastor of my church a couple weeks ago when a few of us were working on something in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.  As he was navigating the spreadsheet on his laptop, a couple of us were telling him what buttons to press to make something happen.  As we were all laughing at the process, he stated, “They didn’t teach us how to do this stuff in seminary.” 

His comment reminded me how we need the skills and talents of others.  There’s no way any one of us can know everything.  I don’t know anyone who can do all of the following:

  • Use a spreadsheet
  • Perform dentistry
  • Make gasoline
  • Build a cell phone tower
  • Build a cell phone
  • Fly a passenger aircraft
  • Perform surgery
  • Build a car
  • Make steel
  • Grow vegetable on a commercial scale
  • Operate a railroad
  • Build or operate a hydro-electric power plant
  • Professionally counsel someone through personal difficulties
  • Run a city sewer system
  • Build a skyscraper
  • Compose music
  • Play a musical instrument
  • And on and on and on…

I’m fortunate that we can rely on others to help where our knowledge falls short.  Often times, we don’t even think about all the people that we’ll never meet that are behind some of the technology, infrastructure, and entertainment we use every day.  However, we daily benefit from their contributions.

What I’m also grateful for is that we can contribute our skills and talents to improve the lives of others too!  To me it seems like the best way that we can say, “Thank you” to those whose efforts benefit us, is to give our effort to improve the lives of others.