This week a good friend from church told me that they’ll be moving to another state to restore an old house they’ll be living in. This friend has a real knack for restoration, interior design, and overall leaving the world better than they found it, so I’m super excited for this adventure of theirs.
I’ve been thinking of the years we’ve spent together in the same Sunday school class, the fun we’ve had playing in the worship band, and the great conversations we’ve had over the years. I also remember the often-spoken kind and encouraging words from this friend that have been a source of joy and comfort as we’ve traveled life together for several years.
There’s a song I’ve heard recently by country singer Brad Paisley titled, “Last Time for Everything”. It’s about how good things transition away, and as they go, you experience them for the last time. This song, and my friend’s move, again remind me that we’re to enjoy the people, places, things, and even the time of life we’re currently in, while we have it, because things transition.
I’m certain my friend and I will continue to stay in touch and will no doubt see each other again in the future. And I’m also reminded that while good things transition out of our life, just as often, equally good things transition in.
Earlier this week I had a video visit with my primary care provider. Nothing major, just a follow up from a previous annual visit. I really like my doctor and as he was talking to me, I was extremely grateful to have him to help me navigate the healthcare world when I need it. I am grateful to have him on my team.
We all have a team. Our team are those people we seek out when we need advice or guidance in an area where we are not very skilled or familiar with, or they’re those people we regularly visit to make sure we’re on the right path. A team can consist of such things as a:
- Doctor or dentist
- Financial planner
- Trusted mechanic
- Personal trainer
One thing that is nice about our team is that we get the privilege of picking who is on them. As such, we should be looking for specific attributes when we’re looking for someone to join our team. For example, what I especially appreciate about my doctor is that he takes the time to teach me about the concepts he’s talking to me about in a way that I can understand. He doesn’t dump a bunch of jargon on me that I’m not familiar with, and then get frustrated that I don’t understand what he’s trying to tell me. He actually teaches me. I come away from my visits with him knowing more than I did when I arrived.
I also appreciate that he asks me if I have any questions. He’s not an information dump truck that quickly dumps a pile of information on me and drives off. He wants to make sure that I leave with my questions answered, versus making sure that I just leave.
The next time you’re seeking to add someone to your team, do your homework. Make sure they have the attributes you’re looking from someone who will influence your decision making in a certain area of your life. And if you have someone on your team that doesn’t have the attributes you’re looking for, perhaps it’s time to consider replacing them. It’s your team. Fill it accordingly.
When you hear a discouraging word or someone says something false or unkind about you, remember this: those words only have the meaning you give them.
Unkind thoughts, words, or opinions of others are not an indictment or sentence someone else gets to place on you. You are the one who decides what meaning, if any at all you give to those words. If someone says that you’re, say, selfish, and you’re clearly not, you don’t have to be negatively impacted by theirs words or opinion. You can decide that those words don’t ring true about you, and therefore have no meaning for you. You are then free to let those words go and not carry them around with you.
If perhaps, in this scenario, you realize that you are indeed selfish, the meaning you give those words may be along the lines of agreement and that this is an area you’re going to seek to better yourself. A rebuke of who you are is not the meaning you give them, but rather it’s a picture of something you’d like (you decide) to change about yourself.
We can also give positive meaning to words of encouragement or affirmation. We can take these words to mean that we’re on track to being the person we’d like to become.
We are the ones who get to decide the meaning we give something. It is not placed on us by others but determined by us alone. What a privilege!
“Make every minute two: one to experience it, one to savor it.” ~Neal Peart
“Your gonna miss this. You’re gonna want this back. You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast.” ~Trace Atkins – You’re Gonna Miss This
I’ve been thinking about the passing of time lately. Isn’t it amazing how quickly it goes by? Consider the following scenarios:
You plan a vacation and eagerly look forward to it. Before you know it, you’re actually experiencing it. Then, almost overnight, it seems, the trip is a 5-year-old memory.
You and your new spouse are just starting your lives together. You’ve got nothing but dreams for the future that you’re excitedly anticipating. You can hardly wait to move from your current situation to the life you envision. Before you know it, you’ve realized some of your dreams and you’re looking back at where you started with 2 thoughts:
- That went fast!
- Those were some good times!
Time’s march, at a 24-hour cadence, is steady and brisk. When I was in basic training for the Army National Guard (several decades ago! Like it was yesterday.) I was amazed at how slow each single day went, yet how fast the weeks and months seemed to fly by.
This steady cadence reminds me to take time to enjoy the experiences I’m having as I’m having them because they’ll be memories (and soon old memories) before I know it.
Let’s make sure to makes sure to not only experience our moments, but to savor them as well. They go so fast that it would be worth stretching them out as much as we can.
Earlier this week I was working on a project with two colleagues from work. These two had spent a significant amount of time with the dataset we were working with, and it didn’t take long to realize that these two had a significant understanding of the intricacies of this data.
As we struggled to figure out a solution to our specific problem, one colleague said, “I feel like I should know more about be an expert at his point.”
His comment intrigued me and caused me to consider what an “expert” is. We hear this term thrown around frequently, especially during this pandemic. After thinking about his comment, I told him that I thought an expert was someone who has spent more time learning, understanding, and experiencing a topic than most folks. Being an expert doesn’t mean we have all the answers (in my searching through definitions of expert, not one mentioned being all -knowing… that’s God’s domain!) it means we have knowledge, skill, and experience that we can apply to solve new problems and address new questions.
I told my colleague that definition would qualify him as an expert on the dataset we were working on.
We’re not required to have all the answers to be an expert, and we certainly don’t have to possess all the answers to offer our knowledge and experience to solve a problem. So, the only expectation is that you share the knowledge, skill, and experience that you have.
I’ve been playing the electric bass for 3 years now, and while I know a whole lot more than I did 3 years ago, I’m acutely aware that I have a lot more to learn.
When I listen to professional bass players, or those who have put in years of effort, I’m amazed at the skill and mastery they possess. To me, their playing looks effortless, and reminds me how far I still have to go. Yet their skill also reminds me that every master was once a disaster.
I know for certain that the best bass players didn’t start out that way. When they first picked up a bass for the first time, they were likely a disaster… just like I was! They didn’t stay there however. They put in the effort to eventually become a master at their craft.
I think that’s cool. Mastery isn’t the starting point, disaster is. When we begin something new, we’re not supposed to be any good at it. You know why? BECAUSE IT’S NEW!
It’s only when we continuously learn about our chosen craft and apply what we’ve learned, that we’re on our way toward mastery. And if we continue this process, we are, by definition, a success:
“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal.” ~Earl Nightingale
So, embrace the disaster that you’re sure to be at the beginning of your next new undertaking. For it’s the starting point on your journey toward mastery.
Have you ever asked someone for their input on a decision you were facing and received one of the following responses:
- I don’t know.
- It’s 50/50.
Those responses, when delivered as a complete answer, are completely useless and provide no value to the person asking for an opinion. They also reveal, of the person whose opinion is being sought, an unwillingness (or inability) to think critically and form an opinion.
When someone values our opinion enough to ask us for it, let’s honor them by turning on our wonderful brains, forming a thought, and offering it to them with the hopes that our opinion will aid them in the decision-making process they’re currently facing.
I’ve recently finished listening to a couple of audio books that has some “colorful” language sprinkled throughout. Not a big deal. In fact, I use to swear a lot as a teen and young adult. However, now I prefer not having those words in my vocabulary. The just don’t align with how I want to present myself to the world.
While the audio books were extremely interesting, I noticed that they sere influential in ways I hadn’t anticipated.
Since listening to them I’ve found myself muttering expletives under my breath when I get frustrated with something. It was hardly noticeable at first, but I’m noticing it occurring more often. I’m reminded how what we allow into our mind has a way of coming back out in our thoughts, speech and actions., especially when we’re squeezed or under pressure. Therefore, need to be more discerning with regard to the content I’m allowing into my mind.
I like what Philippians 4:8 states,
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”
I’m going to focus more on doing this, because I want to make sure what comes out, through my thoughts, speech, or actions, is a positive result of the good things I’ve placed in my mind.
Weird times going on in the world today! We have an abundance of uncertainty, and with it comes the potential for fear, anxiety, and worry. It’s important to realize this, because left unchecked, these feelings can cause us to behave in ways that we might otherwise not.
We choose how we behave. Circumstances don’t make us act poorly; we choose to act poorly. Situations don’ cause to treat others badly. We choose to do that too.
The good news is that in spite of situations or circumstances, we can also choose to treat others well. We can choose to treat others with compassion and dignity. That choice is completely up to us.
So, let’s pay attention to how we’re choosing to treat one another. Let’s choose to treat each other well; not just during these crazy times, but from this moment forward.
That sounds pretty good to me!
I love living in the Information Age! Just before writing this blog, I dropped my fountain pen on the floor, leaving 2 black spots of India ink on the carpet. Not good! My wife looked online and told me I needed to blot the spots with rubbing alcohol. Five minutes later, the spots were gone!
How great is that!! I needed a specific piece of information and within seconds, I not only had the info, but was applying it to solve my problem. Amazing!
The downside of the Information Age is that there is SO much information out there, from so many different sources, it can become overwhelming to know which sources to trust. This is especially true when we’re seeking more important information than how to get ink stains out of your carpet. When searching for information we need to make important life decisions, we should employ some critical thinking to help us vet which sources we will rely on.
For example, we should determine the reason the source is providing this information. Is it to:
- Generate a sale
- Influence my opinion
- Move me to action to support a cause, belief, or ideal
Some other things we should think critically about regarding our information sources are:
- What tactics they are using
- Emotional hooks
- Is the information based on facts or opinions
- Is the source considered an expert or authority in the field
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but rather serves as a reminder that we should question our sources to determine whether we can trust the information they provide.
Ultimately, we have a responsibility to ourselves and our loved ones to be discerning of the information sources clamoring for our attention. Because our thinking shouldn’t cease when Google returns our search results.