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.

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Cause It To Happen

My wife and I just got back from a week-long trip to Boston.  We went with some friends to explore the town and learn more about ta place none of us had ever spent much time, but that all of us were eager to visit.

What always strikes me when we go on a trip or adventure is how it would never have occurred without some prior planning and forethought.  Think about it, you can have an adventure in mind, but without taking the steps to cause it to happen, it will remain an unfulfilled dream.  Our action is what transforms a dream into reality.

How cool that in order for much of our dreams to be realized, we simply need to put forth the effort required to bring them about.  The other side of that coin is that it is sad that we are often the ones standing in the way of our dreams, simply because we fail to take action.

What adventure are you dreaming of?  Take steps today to begin causing the dreams you have to happen.  Your future self will thank you for the memories

Knowing and Doing

One of my favorite books in the Bible is James.  What I love most about it is that it is filled with hard-hitting, non-sugar-coated truth.  My favorite verse in this book is   1:22 where the author states, “Don’t merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says”.  This is a verse I often read as if James was speaking these words directly to me.

It’s easy to gain knowledge about how we SHOULD be behaving.  It’s quite another thing to take the knowledge we gain, and parlay it into action.  What good does it do to gain a bunch of knowledge that is beneficial to us, yet fail to put that knowledge into action?  If we spend a significant period of time (months, years, decades, a lifetime) we’ll wind up being nothing more than a bunch of over-educated under-achievers. 

Here’s a good question for all of us:  Is there some knowledge that I have that I need to put into action in order to see positive results?  If the answer is, “Yes” (which I’m sure it is for most of us), then take a small step today to begin putting that knowledge into action.  Because there’s a big difference between knowing and doing.  Knowing = knowledge.  Doing = results.

It Was Fun To Watch

Last Sunday morning, my wife and I were having breakfast at a local restaurant in Bandon Oregon.  There was a friendly gentleman that was greeting people with a smile and seating people as they came in, or taking their name, if there would be a short wait.  He was fun to watch! 

What was most fun to observe was when a family of 5 came in and was waiting for a table.  They had only been waiting less than 5 minutes when they decided to leave.  Right after they walked out the door, the friendly host came by and called their name.  When no one responded, he asked one of the waitresses, “Where’s Jennifer?”  (The person who had just left.)  When he realized they had left, he actually went out to the parking lot to look for them.  I watched as he found them, and kindly informed them that he had a table all ready for them.  They came back in and sat down.

I LOVE this guy’s commitment to the business and the customer all at the same time!  From a business standpoint, he was able to save a sale that could have easily been lost.  From a customer standpoint, he wanted to make sure that this family didn’t go away and have to find another place to eat, and potentially wait in line there too.  Like I mentioned before; this guy was fun to watch!

I don’t know if he was the owner of the place or an employee, but regardless, he was carrying out his duties with kindness an excellence.  May he be a model for us as we serve others.

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.  😊

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!

A Different Look At Resolutions

Are you thinking of making a New Year’s resolution?  Are you also thinking that whatever resolution you make, will likely be forgotten before the first month of the new year is over?  If so, perhaps consider this; instead of a lofty goal to achieve, consider what kind of person you’d like to become over the next 12 months.

The reason I like this approach so much is because over the next 12 months (and for the rest of our lives, actually!) we’re going to become something.  Why not choose what type of person we want to become, and take small daily steps toward becoming that person? 

For example, if we want to be a someone that lives a healthy lifestyle, we can daily ask ourselves if what we eat or our level of activity is consistent with the healthy person we decided we want to become.  Our answers will confirm that we’re on track or that we might need a course correction. 

We’re fortunate, that even though there are plenty of things that are out of our control, we still have the ability to chose what we become.  And that change comes through small steps made daily, over the scope of months, years, and decades.  As mentioned earlier, we’ll become something.  Let’s be intentional with what that “something” is.

Choose How You Age

Most of the weakness and frailty we blame on aging is not due to getting older but to inactivity.”

~Dottie Billington

When I read the quote above earlier this week in Dottie’s book titled, “Life is an Attitude: How to Grow Forever Better”, it leapt off the page at me, because I’ve also heard complaints from people recently about the negative impacts of aging.  These complaints have come in the form of a frustrated resignation that this deterioration is an inevitable part of aging.  I disagree.

Every day we get to choose to either be sedentary or to carve out time in the day to move our bodies.  If we choose one day not to move about or exercise, that single day really won’t have an impact on us.  However, if we decide day after day not to move or exercise, the compounding of those days over month, years, and decades, will certainly have negative impacts on our physical ability as we age. 

Likewise, if we choose to exercise and move every day, the compounding effects of those decisions over months, years, and decades, will have a positive impact on our physical ability in the years to come.

By exercising our bodies (and our minds!) we’re telling ourselves that we need our bodies and minds to be in peak shape, because we plan on using them.  Here’s the cool think, when we train our minds and bodies to be ready for use… they respond!

What encourages me most to reject the assumption that we deteriorate as we get older, is that I’ve seen too much evidence to the contrary in the lives of folks that have been around a lot longer than I have.

I encourage you to reject the false assumption that aging is a downward spiral and that after a certain age, you’re washed.  That statement is only true if you choose to believe it.

So how have you decided that you’re going to age?

The Value Of Instructors

Four years ago, I began taking lessons to learn the electric bass guitar.  I’m sure I could have learned to play the bass by watching youtube videos, but I prefer being able to ask specific questions I’m struggling with to a real person versus a search engine.  I also prefer lessons, because the instructor often know things that will be useful that I’m not yet aware of.

For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been learning about now to write melodies.  When we first started, I was wondering to myself, “how is this going to help be become a better bass player?”  I was really having a hard time connecting the dots between being able to write melodies and being a more skilled bass player.

As we’ve been working on it, I’m seeing how this skill will increase my understanding of music and also help me learn how I can apply this knowledge directly in some of the songs we play on the worship team at church.  It’s a skill I likely wouldn’t have pursued, had I not been taking lessons from someone who knows more about music than me.

While youtube and online search results can be useful in helping you learn a new skill, I think the best way to learn, at least for me, is to enlist the help of a good instructor.  Someone who has been on the same journey, only much longer than I have, and someone who knows what skills would be valuable, that I may not even be considering.

The next time you’re trying to go beyond the basics of learning a new skill, consider enlisting the help of an instructor.  It’s highly probable that you’ll benefit from the knowledge they have that you’re not yet aware of.