Lessons of the Seasons

I don’t usually like to share things from people who are anonymous, because it takes away some of the meaning for me (can you even really call it a “quote” if you can’t quote someone about it?). I know that on particularly divisive topics people may not want to or be able to reveal their identities, but for the most part there’s no reason not to share your name and take credit for your wise words. But as we finish out this month’s look at seasons, I was touched by this quote:

“Better late than never, but never late is better.
You can’t change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future.
Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.
Time is the cruelest teacher: she first gives the test, then teaches the lesson.
If you get up one more time than you fall, you will make it through.
All good things must come to an end; but some bad things can continue forever.
Time wastes our bodies and our wits, but we waste time, so we are quits.
Don’t count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count.
Time is like a handful of sand: the tighter you grasp it, the faster it runs through your fingers.”
Author Unknown

You don’t know what tomorrow will bring, you don’t know if you’ll make it to tomorrow, let alone next season or next summer. It’s up to each of us to choose to make the most out of each and every day. You can’t get back the days that have passed, you can only live in the days that are here and yet to come. What will you do with the summer that stretches before you?

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Reality Reflection: Brexit or Bust

Friday in the UK something dramatic happened: the people voted to leave the European Union.  I’m not going to talk today about whether this is good or bad or what could happen as a result.   I just want to talk about the facts today.  While it wasn’t a large majority, a majority of voters in the UK clearly stated that they are unhappy with how things are.  I had talked prior to the vote with someone who was passionately campaigning for the “leave” group.  They wanted my insights on things they could do to spread the word about why they believed leaving was the right thing to do.  Whether you agree with how the vote resulted, or not, it’s very clear that people want change.

I know we talk a lot about change here and whether we really want change and how motivated for change we are or aren’t.  Sometimes we’re not really enthusiastic about change and making it happen, so we let things slide for a while.  But there comes a point in time for most of us that we reach a tipping point that we just can’t take it anymore and change isn’t really a choice anymore, it’s a must.  When given the opportunity to say so, the people of the UK stood up and said that it is time for change.

I don’t know where you’re at in your life right now, but most of us could benefit from some changes in our lives.  We’d be better off going to bed sooner, exercising more, eating better, choosing better relationships or saving a little more each month.  The question is are we really desiring of the benefits we’ll gain from the change (or sick enough of what we’ve been going through) to make the change?

Time will tell if the vote to leave the EU was a good choice or not.  But what I hope we all take from the vote is that it’s OK to want change, and it’s important to be brave enough to step up and say that you want that change.  Will you choose to step beyond the reality that is your life this week and into a better reality, or will you let things continue as status quo?

Enjoy the Summer

I’m not the type of person who likes to rush too many things.  I love the speedy internet and not waiting hours for things to cook but the older I get the more I appreciate the value of each and every day we have, especially when it comes to summer.  I love the long daylight hours, the warm nights and hot days.  I love seeing the bright blue sky and beaming sun just about every day.  I love growing fresh vegetables and herbs outside my back door.  I don’t look forward to fall because that means snow and cold weather are coming soon.

So I’m learning to appreciate taking my time, the time that it takes things to happen and the gift of each and every day we have.  Summer makes me want to live life to the fullest and appreciate all of nature around me.  Summer encourages get-togethers with family and friends, from BBQ’s to clam bakes with fun games, activities and drinks.  Summer makes me want to live because that’s what I see going on in the world around me.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to rush just because I’m inspired to live.  I’m still going to take my time to do things right the first time, smell the roses, pet the puppies, draw with chalk with the kids, take late night walks with my partner, watch the stars come out, read books, learn from others who know things I don’t and even take time to just sit and watch the world go by.

There’s a time and place for everything, and even if you could rush it, you really shouldn’t. There are lots of things in the here and now that would benefit from your attention.

“Time is nature’s way to keep everything from happening at once.”  John Archibald Wheeler

A Summer of Celebration

Today is the summer solstice.  It’s a day of celebrating the summer ahead, reflecting on the seasons past and celebrating being alive and having the sun to warm and feed us. Many groups of people take time on days like the solstice to stop and reflect or have a practice or something they say to honor the transition, and it got me thinking about taking time to thank and honor God.  So today I thought I would share a few verses to inspire and encourage you to recognize God’s presence in your day to day life and in larger moments like the solstice.

“This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24

“Sing praises to God and to his name!  Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the Lord—rejoice in his presence! Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy.”  Psalm 68:4-5

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God.  The skies display his craftsmanship.  Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.”  Psalm 19:1-2

“O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!  Your glory is higher than the heavens…When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?”  Psalm 8:1, 3-4

“Sing out your thanks to the Lord; sing praises to our God with a harp.  He covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures.  He gives food to the wild animals and feeds the young ravens when they cry.  He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might. No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.”  Psalm 147:7-11

I encourage you to look and see where God is working this summer.  Don’t give up hope because it seems like all you see is sorrow and hate.  And if you can’t see God working, maybe He’s waiting for you to do something to share some joy and sunshine with someone.

Reality Reflection: Being a Dad

This Sunday in the US is Father’s Day.  You’ve probably been seeing the ads on TV and maybe thinking about the experience you have had with your dad or dads or the father figures in your life.  Whether you’re reading the papers, watching TV or reading a fiction book, more often than not it’s the dad who screws things up or is “evil”.  Dads don’t have the best reputation, and it’s unfortunate that I agree that they don’t have the best reputation and that there’s a really good reason for that.

I’ve met more dads than I would like that don’t live up to the responsibility and gift that being a dad is.  These are men who don’t see any responsibility towards their children, don’t feel anything for them or about them, don’t show them any love or affection, beat them or their mothers up, and don’t try to give their kids the best chance they can have.  Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of great dads out there, and there are bad moms too, being a not-great parent isn’t limited to the dads.  And even though men have failed over and over as dads, the men of the world are the ones given the next superhero role, looked up to for their “superiority” and seen as default leaders.

Again, don’t get me wrong, women (and moms) fail too.  But like I said there’s a reason for the stereotype of men failing as dads.  As we look ahead to Father’s Day I encourage you if you’re a dad to step up and let your kids know you’re there for them, let them know you care what happens with their future, and be a good example for them now even if you haven’t been in the past.  Choose to be the man that everyone looks up to, choose to do the right thing when you could do the wrong, choose to show your kids in more ways than just buying stuff that you care about them, and don’t be ashamed to be proud to be a dad.  Who are you celebrating this Father’s Day?

A Seasonal Solstice

In our discussion about seasons this month I’ve been thinking about what’s coming up on Monday, the summer solstice.  The summer solstice is when several things happen.  First, we get the longest day of the year, in other words the day with the most light.  The second thing is that the summer solstice is the day that the sun appears highest in the sky.  Third, it’s the official start to summer.  Finally, the solstice is when the sun actually comes to a stop and reverses direction so the seasons change.  Cool right?

In some ways the summer solstice is a day of celebration for me, because it marks the official beginning of the summer months and means lots of warm and sunny days.  But it’s also a reminder that we’re heading back towards winter, with cold days and dark nights, which is not my favorite season.

The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).  If I know anything, it’s that we all need some sun and light in our lives and how important it is to take time for reflection.  No, it’s not healthy to be out in the sun day in and day out without protection because of the likelihood of getting cancer(s), but there are lots of important aspects to sunlight that are essential for our health and well-being, and can’t be ignored.  It’s one reason that seasonal affective disorder exists, because most of us can’t live without sunlight.

Summer is a great time to get out early or stay out late and do some meditating and reflecting, or just relaxing and slow down from your usually busy schedule.  If the sun, which keeps all of us alive, makes it a point to stop every 6 months, I believe we can all find the time at least weekly to stop and just take a break.  I’m ready to enjoy the solstice and the summer, are you?

Doing the Right Thing

Last week in my weekly devotional I talked about the topic of guilt.  Do you feel guilty often?  I think most of us are human enough that we do feel guilt from time to time and feel bad about the things we’ve done or choices we’ve made. We should feel guilty about sins we commit and people we hurt because it means that God is working in us, and we recognize when we do things we shouldn’t.  Today I wasn’t planning on talking about guilt, but about doing the right thing.

Do you sometimes choose to do the right thing because you know it will be the easy thing?  That rather than maybe getting caught for cutting corners or having to redo things you just do the right thing the first time? I know I do.   I like shortcuts as much as the next person, but sometimes those shortcuts aren’t so short and it’s just easier to do the right thing the first time.

What about doing the right thing because it feels good? What about treating others with respect because that’s how you want to be treated? What about doing things for the right reason period?  What about doing the right thing because God says to in the Bible?  This week I challenge you to do the right thing.  Treat others with respect, go the extra mile to do things right, do things right the first time, say ‘thank you’ and ‘bless you’ often and choose to make a difference doing right not only because it will feel good, but because it’s what God calls His people to do.

“So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”  Acts 24:16