A Summer for New Adventures

This week I’ve been thinking about adventures.  As kids we’re all encouraged to read and dream and be imaginative.  But as adults we’re encouraged to be professional, poised, successful, and dare I say it, boring?  What is the deal here?  Why are we encouraging our children to be creative and imaginative if we don’t use it as adults (and therefore they won’t either)?

Well I’ve had enough.  It’s time for us adults to put down those straight faces and grab up a favorite children’s book or fiction book and do a little dreaming.  What would your life look like with a little more fun?  What would happen in that job you dislike, relationship that stresses you out, and life that is constantly pursuing one goal after another?

What if, just suppose, you got passionate about your life, did something creative, had a fun hobby or decided to live your life fulfilling a dream?  Hmm?  What if you tried it, just for one day.  What if you went to work with the attitude that you never knew what could come around the corner, that each new customer or client was an opportunity to do something different and make a difference in the life of another person?  What if you went out with your partner to the food store and rather than bickering about what to and not to buy, you people watched or reminisced about the fun things you did together?  What if you stopped and took a day off from constantly pursuing that next dollar or goal, and instead went fishing or spent the day in your craft room?

What can you do to make your life come alive?  Your life is what you choose to make it, and if you choose to live a boring, constant, uninteresting life, go for it.  But I am confident that there is something better out there for you, no matter what hole you’ve fallen into, path you’ve traveled down or decisions you’ve made in the past.

I choose to live my life as a new adventure each day, what adventures will you have this summer?

Breaking through Assumptions

What do you think about reality TV? No, I’m not talking about “reality” TV wherein people try to find a significant other or people get dropped into the wilderness to try to survive or do all kinds of physical and/or mental challenges, I’m talking about shows like Dirty Jobs, all of the live police and rescue shows, and even shows like those being done with natural locations (Yellowstone, Egypt etc.). Yes, there’s editing in some/all of them because that’s part of TV, but the core of the shows remain: honest looks at what’s going on in our world.

I’m not a fan of news programs, I never watch the “nightly news” or morning news or anything like that, they typically cherry-pick what they want to show and never give you a fully honest glimpse of all of what’s going on. The live/reality shows are designed to show it all, from the very mundane and stupidly simple to the very intense and dangerous. For the more dangerous shows/episodes, you can’t predict what’s going to happen, you just have to do as much planning as you can and hope for the best. For the less fascinating or intense shows you have to play up the story and purpose behind what’s going on.

I hinted at it already, but here’s why I like these shows: because it shows a side of the world that most of us never see, and could never hope to understand without them unless we did a ‘day-in-the-life’ type thing, which most of us wouldn’t or couldn’t do. These shows can give us an awareness about things other people wish we knew or help us understand how things work (and why they have to be done certain ways). True, honest, open awareness reduces or eliminates fears, rebuilds trust, fights falsehoods, and gives us an opportunity to build our world and relationships on healthy foundations, not those of lies and fears.

So this summer as you explore on your vacations or just explore your world at home, I encourage you to put aside your knowledge and assumptions and be open to hearing and seeing the truth from the perspectives of those who live it every day, or whose ancestors lived it and have passed along the stories and ways of living. Be curious, be open to learning, be open to hearing the stories and experiences of others, and don’t let your preconceived notions get in the way of what could be great friendships and opportunities.

A Word About Wisdom

This week in my devotional time I read a lot of verses that talk about wisdom. Take a look”

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” James 1:5

“Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it.” Proverbs 8:33

“Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.” Proverbs 19:20

“Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.” Proverbs 9:9

I also looked a bit into the story of Esther. If you remember her story (there’s a whole book of the Bible written about it), as a young Jewish girl she’s drafted into possibly becoming queen of Persia, she actually does become queen, she saves her people (the Jews) from massacre because she pleads with the king and reveals the villain, and ends up living happily ever after. One of the supporting characters in the story is Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, who helps her with knowledge about the impending massacre. But the story reveals that Mordecai sharing knowledge with the King goes back further than the main story of the Book of Esther about the planned massacre, to a time when Mordecai revealed that there was an assassination plan targeting the king (Esther 2:21-23). The king is saved and the story apparently goes on. But some time later (in the middle of the story about the planned massacre) the king had trouble sleeping so he read back through the logs that were kept of the goings on in the kingdom and was reminded of this assassination attempt and he asked an important question about what was done to reward him for his dedicated service (Esther 6). It turned out that nothing had been done, so the king followed up and rewarded Mordecai.

I share all of these verses and this story from Esther for several reasons. First, there’s no reason whatsoever to ever think or assume you know everything. Everyone forgets things and everyone can only remember or know or be exposed to so much. It’s one of the reasons the internet is so powerful and such an important tool for our lives today. Second, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help or a second opinion. Since we’ve already established we don’t know everything, it follows that someone else certainly knows something you don’t and you can tap into their knowledge. Third, keep learning! I keep notes about lots of stuff because I want to make sure I take care of things or to remember things, and as we saw with the story of Mordecai and the king, notes of those kind can make sure that you’re following through on the important things in your life, as well as to keep a record for those who come after you.

One final thought: wisdom only does good if you do something with it. It’s important to keep learning and to connect with others, but only if you’re going to do something with that knowledge because there are people out there in the world who could greatly benefit from what you know. For example imagine learning all you can about cancer and never doing anything with that knowledge, it sounds silly, right? Whether you do more learning or sharing this week doesn’t matter, what does matter is that you’re taking time to both learn and contribute your wisdom to the world.

Reality Reflection: Going with the Summer Flow

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and all you can do is watch it come at you and wonder what on earth you’re supposed to do. As it does the damage it does you have to figure out how you’re going to pick up the pieces and what comes next. One of the biggest emotions you experience is frustration, anger might be a close second, with disbelieve and sadness also possible contenders. It’s not fair, but if we didn’t have these curve balls, would we really be as smart or creative as we are?

I lost a blog post I was going to share with you today, it just magically vanished and there’s no way for me to retrieve it. It’s rare but it happens. Once I got over the panic and thought about it I realized why it vanished and wasn’t so mad, but I was a little frustrated. It’s times like these that I wonder if the universe has a better plan, or just wants us to do something different or just thinks we need to do a little extra work.

So I’ve changed course from my original topic and now I’m thinking summer, because there’s nothing better than coming up with alternative plans when it’s the summer. Like having to find a new activity to do because it’s raining and you can’t go to the beach or pool like you were originally planning, so now you’re driving to that little donut or BBQ joint you heard rave reviews about but never found the time to check out. Or maybe you’re just going to stay home and clean some stuff out that you’ve been meaning to do (maybe for years!!).

So much of summer is about moving with the flow, but we forget that during the rest of the year. Somehow it’s awesome in the summer but not acceptable during the other 3 seasons. So as we officially begin summer this week I would invite you to go ahead and adopt that summer flexibility, to really work on going with the flow and being more flexible and willing to change as change is needed. If you’re more open to it, it will be easier to navigate, and you’ll feel better about it too.

Make Way for Victories

I’ve probably mentioned before that I watch cop shows on a regular basis, typically the real-life type. I’m not into committing crimes, I don’t have people in my family who do, and I don’t have any interest in getting into any type of criminal investigation work, but I always find these shows interesting but not overly dramatic (because I don’t like drama) and they’re obviously not comedies (which I don’t enjoy watching either).

As I was watching one the other day on a show the team was investigating a murder and found tons of evidence of the crime stored away in the house where the suspect was living. The suspect had cleaned up the crime scene, but kept all of the materials that were used to commit the murder as well as clean up in the house, which just made me shake my head. If you’re really going to attempt to hide the murder you’ve done, you don’t keep evidence of it in your house, you get rid of it at least down the block, if not several towns over.

I’m not going to talk about the lack of common sense some people have, but rather how the concept is applicable to something much more relevant to most people’s lives: victories. There are times in our lives that we have to move on from something in our present or past if we want to get to the next step of our victory journey, or the next victory period. Sometimes the best thing to do is to remove the past from our lives. That doesn’t mean boxing it up and putting it on a shelf in the basement or the attic, but rather throwing it out and removing it completely from our lives. You can’t remove your memories nor can you remove the memories of others, and it’s very difficult to remove stuff from some parts of the internet (deleting only does so much), but removing any bits of evidence that you can that remind you of that past or connects you to that past can help you make more positive steps into the future and your next victory.

So what do you need to get rid of today that will help you not only feel more free but help you create more victories?  Go ahead and get rid of it, keeping it will only hold you back rather than help set you free.

Courage Like Daniel

With it being graduation season as well as Father’s Day and last month Mother’s Day, one topic that comes to mind is courage. It takes courage to step into the next chapter of your life after graduation. It takes courage to step up and really be the parent your kids need you to be. It takes courage to step up and be the partner that the mother/father of your children needs you to be. Some people do try to give a partial effort, and they’re partially successful, which usually ends up being more frustrating and ineffective than anything worth giving credit to.

One of the Biblical figures that often is thought of when the topic of courage comes up is Daniel. Daniel’s this larger-than-life figure who has an incredible passion for God, is called into the presence of kings and leaders regularly, and gets himself into some incredible situations including being thrown in a lion’s den (and coming out alive).

Daniel showed courage in several different ways, including being courageous enough to tell the truth when it was asked of him, to stay faithful to what he believed, to continue to practice his faith even when it was considered illegal, and to trust in God when his life was threatened. He also had one of those incredibly close relationships with God, and God revealed much to him because he listened to God. The book of Daniel also records one of the longer prayers in the Bible, a prayer of confession, humility and a seeking of forgiveness.

We may never have the relationship with God or live on the national stage that Daniel did, but that doesn’t mean that our lives are any less important, or that it takes us any more courage to live them that it did Daniel. This week I would encourage you to work your way away from fear and into courage and live your life with the power and confidence that come with being a loved Child of God.

Reality Reflection: Summer of Consideration

We’re less than a week to summer, summer officially arrives next Friday and I can’t wait. Right now it’s the time that we think about what we want the summer to be, the things we want to do with our summer, the people we want to hang out, the time off we’re going to take, if we’re going to fit into our bathing suit, what we’re going to do with the kids this summer, how many roads will be closed for repairs and repaving, special date nights we have planned, and countless other little things.

As I was driving the other day a guest on a radio show shared a bit of a crazy story about how her foot was broken. She was out walking through a city center and someone was driving a bit quick and didn’t stop for her when she was in the crosswalk, they rolled over her foot and brushed past her other leg and hip. They did stop to check on her, and offered to take her to the hospital (“get in and I’ll take you to the hospital”), when she said no they then drove off before she could call the police or get any information from them.

Lots to unpack from that story, let’s start with the really crazy part that strangers still tell people to get in their cars! Whether this ‘run over someone’s foot’ thing is a scam to get people in their car or a true accident, it’s a good reminder of how dangerous the roads are and how little consideration for each other we seem to have at some times. It’s about more than just common sense (which too many people seem to be lacking in at times), it’s about remembering that in each car is at least one other human, walking around on the streets are many other humans, living and working in the many buildings around us are lots of other humans, and someone more distracted than you could intersect with your line of travel (or your life) faster than you can react.

This topic of consideration extends beyond driving, to all other areas of summer life like standing in line, being hot, having tired kids, having bored kids, planning and having parties and get-to-gethers, attending concerts, and using fireworks just to name a few.

At the end of the day we all want the same thing: to have a great summer, to be with the people we love, to have more time with those people, and to have less stress and fewer messes to navigate in our lives. If we all took a moment to be a little more considerate of all the other people who we share this world with, we’d contend with less fear, stress and upset and the world be a nicer place to live.

Right to Restore?

For the past few years there’s been a revitalization in interest in restoring old buildings. We’ve also seen this recently with the discussions over Notre Dame and whether it will be restored as it most recently was, or if they’re going to make some changes. I can understand the perspective of wanting to restore buildings, many old buildings have an incredible presence about them that updating or changing them would destroy. But other times there’s value in making some changes, especially if it means you’re going to breathe new life into something. So how do you know when to restore and when to be open to some change?

Tiredness is a great indication that a decision has to be made, either to put in the effort to restore or to move on to something different. The unfortunate thing about old buildings is that sometimes they do reach the point of being so tired there’s no hope for them and changes have to be made. The same is true for people, we can get so tired, so burnt out, that we don’t have anywhere to go but required changes.

If you’re pretty happy with the bones, the foundation of what you’ve got in life, it’s probably that what you need is a restoration. But if you’re finding that it’s sand all around or nothing is working like you think it should or want it to, you’re ready for a change. And there’s nothing wrong with passing the bones or foundation of what still works onto someone else before it’s irreparable.

Yes, it hurts to let go of some of the old buildings and old parts of our lives, but not everything was meant to last forever. We should always have some treasured items and memories from the past that stick with us, while we still remain open for the new and amazing that is being created or simply revealed to us. Don’t forget that going with something different or new doesn’t have to mean that it was made in this year or even this decade, it could just be something new to you.

So what could help you make more victories? Is your life in need of some restoration or are you ready for something new?

A Summer of Love

One of my favorite topics, and a favorite topic for many, is the topic of love. We’re getting closer by the day to my favorite season, summer, we’ve already celebrated the holidays of Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, and we’ve got Father’s Day this coming weekend, for some of us all of those are reasons to feel love and share love, even if there’s a bit of bittersweet reminiscing going on over those we’ve lost. But love continues after death. It doesn’t end, it changes. We still love them, we just love them differently.

One of the greatest examples of love is that of God’s love for us. Over the years He has shown us in so many ways how much He loves us. From the start of Creation to Noah’s Ark to crossing the Red Sea to Jesus birth and later death and resurrection, not to mention all of the individual men and women, boys and girls whose lives are well-known throughout the Bible, God’s been telling a story of love for years.

But what’s in the Bible doesn’t begin to tap into all of the evidence that there is that God loves us. It’s in the way the breeze blows, the sun shines, the plants grow, the pets wag their tales, the joy of two people in love seeing each other at the end of a day, the innocence and yet amazing insight of a child, the little unexpected blessings that show up in your day, the good news, the coworker who offered to help with the big project, the satisfaction at the end of a good book or movie, the laughter with friends, the friend who stopped to talk with you, the reminder that just popped into your head, or the health to get up another morning. The ways that God can show up and show love are endless.

If you’re looking for something to challenge you over the summer, I would challenge you to make this the summer of love. Work on the relationships that mean the most to you but are a little (or a lot) broken. Work on yourself and accepting yourself and/or improving yourself. Do good things for the earth. Donate your time to organizations and people in need. And I would encourage you to ask God what ways He wants you to work on loving this summer.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” John 3:16

Reality Reflection: Judgments and Honesty

I’m a big fan of what I thought to be a growing trend of people who are doing business and living honestly, and with the best interests of everyone at heart.  But, the truth is that there are quite a few who aren’t on the bandwagon yet.

Bill Hybels said, “What’s further saddening to me is the growing trend, specifically in the United States culture, to throw stones first and ask questions later.”

Why should you throw stones first?  Actually, why throw stones at all?  When you throw a stone you are most likely to break something.  Maybe you break a window, maybe it’s a finger, or maybe it’s a broken heart.

In this world of preferences, options, opportunities, varieties, differences, variations, and changes, the likelihood that you jumped to an incorrect conclusion before you threw that stone is a very high one.

I would much rather ask questions and get to know you, than jump to a judgment that is completely off base.  Is it easy to not jump to conclusions? No, we’re a jumpy society.  It takes a lot of work to suspend your judgment of someone or something.

My question for you today is what good does throwing stones do?  Does it actually feel good to sling nasty things at your “competition”? Do you feel good seeing the pissed or crushed look on someone when you immediately sweep them under the rug without giving them the time to explain or clarify?

So before you leave your house this week, make sure you’ve got your keys, wallet, computer, cell phone and any other necessarys, and leave your snap judgments behind your locked and closed door.