What To Do With Today

Each moment of our lives we’re given both the opportunity and the challenge to accept what’s in our past, live in the moment and work towards the future. Some of us choose to only live in the moments, others of us are stuck in the past, and some of us only see the future. It’s healthiest if we can balance all 3 of those, that we fix our mistakes from the past (whether the past is just 10 minutes ago or 10 years ago), seeing life for what it is in the moment, and take smart actions that would build a good future for us and those we care about. Living in the past, present and future means that you’re not just focused on your life, but the lives of those around you as well.

Since there are only so many hours in a day and so many days in our lives, we have to sometimes make tough decisions about the things we do “today” and what we put off into the future. There are some things that I don’t think we should ever put off until tomorrow, like telling someone you love them and praying. Sometimes asking for forgiveness or apologizing should be done that day, while other times it should be put off until things cool down.

In my weekly devotional this past week I talked about how we have the opportunity with each day to start fresh, to have a clean slate, to get a new lease on life. God is a past-present-future God. He’s been with us through everything that happened in our pasts, and He’ll go with us through whatever our future holds (and Jeremiah 29 reminds us that He promises us a future). But one of the biggest gifts He gives us is His presence in the here and now. He can give us the insights, peace, patience, endurance, and words we need to navigate whatever each day brings, including helping us to know what needs to be taken care of today and what can keep until tomorrow.

One of the notable points of Jesus’ ministry on earth was His willingness to stop and care for someone who needed Him. He put off whatever plans He had to help them, to listen to them and to heal them. A few examples are the woman at the well, Zaccheus, Lazarus and a demon-possessed man, Jesus met them on His way to wherever He was going and stopped to make time for them.

I’m not saying that we should be stopping for everyone or everything we come across in a day, but encouraging us to follow the example that Jesus set and taking care of what’s truly important each day. It’s why we need to know our priorities and make sure they’re taken care of. Are you taking care of what’s truly important in your day or just going with what’s easy, creating regrets and wasted opportunities? I encourage you to remember the gift that we have with each day, and each moment of your life.

Reality Reflection: A Discussion on Freedom

As we get closer to this month wrapping up, I have been thinking about the topic that opened this month: freedom. It’s a topic we all crave, we certainly talk about having freedoms or wanting more freedoms. There is a balance to be found between structure and freedom, between limits and freedom though, because we’re not alone in this world. Part of that structure and those limits have to deal with the other people that we share this planet with. These are people that we not only share space and air with, they’re people who we impact with our decisions and the way we live.

Each of us define freedom and what we want for freedoms differently. You may want the freedom to eat pizza every day or marry the person you want to marry or just stay home with your kids and not work or get a divorce or quit/change your job or take a vacation every year or order whatever you want on the menu and not worry about price. Freedom means different things to different people, the question that has to be addressed is regarding our freedoms vs. the freedoms of others.

Can we accept what others want as freedoms? What about the freedom to hunt? Can we accept it as long as they’re respectful of the animals and the rules, aren’t wasteful and do their part to help the species thrive? What about relationships that have messy lines? Can we accept someone loving someone of the same sex or more than one person at the same time or more than one person throughout their life or not wanting to be in a relationship at all?

No, we may never understand why people want the freedoms that they want. We certainly won’t claim to want all the freedoms that others want. But with a little patience, good communication (not arguments or laying down the law), and respect for others and their beliefs, I believe we can all have at least some of the freedoms we desire. Why is this important? Because sometimes we judge, block, fight and criticize what we don’t understand, especially if we think there’s wrongdoing or hurt happening, or we think the freedom will be destructive in the future. And sometimes that is the truth, which is why it’s important to talk about our freedoms and desires and go into them with eyes wide open as well as a willingness to hear others out before passing judgement or just journeying into a freedom without considering the costs.

A Different Victory

Lately I’ve been struggling to figure out how to make victories in some areas. It’s frustrating when you’re doing what you think works or what has worked in the past and it’s just not working. Do you try harder? Do you keep pushing through and hope there’s a breakthrough? Do you just give up? What do you do?

As I was thinking about this I was reminded about something my partner and I talked about doing this year, and that was trying new and different things, which got me thinking about doing things differently when it comes to victories. How sometimes what it takes to get to victories is changing the plan, doing something new, doing something different, or bringing into the conversation someone new or different. Sometimes ‘different’ is a small tweak, but other times it’s a completely different something, something you haven’t thought of or tried yet.

The challenge with thinking about doing something different is knowing what you don’t want to do or what you can’t do and trying to find something that does work at the same time. For example if someone was having trouble with one of their kids and they’ve tried all of the typical techniques, getting rid of the kid isn’t a viable option, they would have to do something different other than that.

If you’re feeling stuck I would encourage you to do what I’m going to do, and that’s sit down with pen and paper and do some brainstorming on what you could do different. Maybe you need to open the conversation up to someone else or several other people and get together to talk about any and all options you can both/all come up with. Having the conversation with others increases the likelihood of coming up with a viable different option. If you’re not comfortable having the conversation with someone else yet, go ahead and just do the brainstorming on your own for now. Get creative and don’t reject any ideas, just write them all down. Once you’ve got them all on paper you can go through them and think about how well they might work for you, if they feel right, and which would be easy to give a try to sooner rather than later. If none of them strike your fancy, then come back to them another day and review the list then, and keep adding to it until you hit on something or several somethings different that work for you.

Be Who God Made You To Be

You’re probably familiar with David from the Old Testament. He’s really famous because he defeated Goliath, became king and had a special relationship with God. There are over 900 references to his name in the Bible, and there’s only one David, so that makes him a really popular guy. David’s life is one that in many ways mirrors our own because he’s got highs and lows, he tries to follow the path God has him on, he tries to be someone others can respect, he has a family, and he makes mistakes.

The verse I want to take a look at today comes from early in his story, during the time that he defeats Goliath. I Samuel 17:39 says: “David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.” (NIV)

The context of this verse is that David was brought into Saul’s tent because he questioned why no one was defeating Goliath, Saul said that he was more than welcome to go fight Goliath and gave him a bunch of armor and weapons to do so. As our verse says, David passed on the armor and weapons and went back to his tried-and-true method of stones and sling. He went onto the battlefield and swung the sling, struck Goliath in the forehead and Goliath was dead.

This verse caught my attention this week because it was such a powerful reminder of how wise David was and why God chose him to work through in such a big way. Sometimes what we need are the extra resources like the armor and weapons that were offered to David. Sometimes we take them because we think that’s the right thing to do, when in fact we should just be relying on what works for us and what God has gifted us with.

God wants you to be confident in the person that He made you to be. He didn’t create you to be someone else or to try to be someone else. We all should be learning and growing on a daily basis, but that means becoming a better person, a better version of ourselves, not someone we’re not.

This week I encourage you to work on trusting yourself, trusting God and fully using the tools, resources, blessings and gifts that He’s given you. What difference can you make in the world just by being you?

Reality Reflection: Fighting Injustice

I believe that we’re capable of making the world into a better place and we’re also capable of destroying it. It’s a choice we have to make each day with our words and actions. We may not see the impact our individual actions have on the world at all times, but you can be sure that they are having an impact.

This past week I was paging through stations on the radio and caught the end of an interview on Z100 with Laura and Vanessa Marano who have a movie out on the topic of human trafficking, which is a bigger issue than we would believe. It’s not something that happens only in books, it happens in real life as well, in fact it’s a billion dollar industry.

If you want to listen to just the interview with the ladies you can watch it here, but the part I caught was about 85 minutes into this podcast of the whole morning show that day, talking about the topic of trafficking and about the publicity it doesn’t get. This portion of the show wrapped with the hosts raising the question of why it’s not something people talk about, how uncomfortable it makes some people, how some people in power shut down all talk on subjects like this, and the importance and responsibility of organizations and groups like this radio show who have tons of publicity to, as one senior executive producer said, talk about tough topics even if it makes some listeners turn off the station.  Because for every listener that doesn’t change the channel, it’s one more person who’s hearing the message and maybe able to do something to help.

Unfortunately there are still injustices happening in the world on a daily basis. We’ve not beat the monster at the game yet. We’re doing better in many respects because of social media and the ability to spread the word with less censure from those who would try to use their power or resource to hinder and hide. The first way we can fight human trafficking, help veterans, fight substance abuse, fight race discrimination and the other issues that keep parents and partners and countless others up at night is if we speak up and let people know it’s not acceptable and we’re not going to be quiet about it. From there we have to start making changes so that fewer people are hurt or taken or profiled unfairly and incorrectly or dismissed. It won’t happen in one day, but with tenacity we’ll be able to make an impact.

What causes are close to your heart and you support?

Waste Not Want Not

I don’t know about you but I don’t like to be wasteful. Sure, sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, we get something we think we’ll like and that ends up not being the case and we can’t return it, sometimes we forget about something, or on the other side of things on rare occasions we may intentionally choose to pamper ourselves and go all out and splurge which to some would be wasteful. As far as splurging/pampering goes, I know plenty of people who have gone ahead and splurged in one way or another and felt it was an excellent use of resources. No, it wouldn’t be something they do on a regular basis, but every so often it’s nice to do something special. And when it comes to waste, we’re all human and these things happen.

But I think there’s an important distinction to be made between habitual waste, an accident, and a mistake. A mistake is something that we really did have plans for and really did want/need, but for whatever reason it didn’t work out that way and it was an oops (not something we’ll do again or do often). An accident would be when the power goes out and you lose all the food in your fridge and freezer. You didn’t intentionally cut the power to your house so you could waste food, something totally out of your control happened. Habitual waste for example is when you go to the grocery store and buy more food than you can eat before your next trip, large quantities of foods you’re not sure you would like (and don’t end up liking), or just buying new and not making use of what you have in your closets on a regular basis.

I always try to be conscious of the resources I consume, how much I hold on to, the ways I live my life and how that’s impacting my productivity and victories, and how much I’m spending vs. earning. But I think we can all do (a little) better, and that’s one thing I’ve been working on lately, and so has my partner. It’s also a movement in the food world to accept not-so-pretty produce and be more conscious of where our food comes from and how it gets to our plates. It’s also a movement in the world to consider the packaging things come in and how well we’re recycling things and caring for the earth.

If you want to make a difference even in a very small way this week you can choose to use what you have, to maximize your resources, to pay attention to how you’re living, and make smart decisions and actions that would have a positive impact on your life and bottom line as well as the lives of others and this planet that we all share.

Are you being wasteful of what you’ve been blessed with, purchased, contributed to, or been given?  If we all were a little more careful about our usage, we’d be better off at the end of the month, better off when the next climate report comes out, and better off when it comes to being accountable for our treatment of the planet and each other.

Time for Quiet

One of the things that Jesus didn’t have much of while He was on earth was quiet. Yes, there are some recorded moments of Him trying to find some quiet, but He wasn’t really here for much quiet time, He was here to share a message with others, and the primary way of sharing that message was through words. He did a great job sharing that message and inspiring people to continue spreading that message long after He was gone.

But what about those quiet moments? Jesus did have a couple, one of the more famous ones is the story of Jesus sleeping in a boat during a big storm in Matthew 8. The story goes that Jesus was taking a few moments to Himself to have a nap but when the storm burst upon them, His disciples were afraid so they woke Him, He calmed the storm and they were amazed.

If even Jesus needed naps and quiet moments, don’t we more so? Why have we let our society and lives get so focused on activity levels and productivity? Why don’t we include things like naps and/or quiet time as part of our regular schedules? Why do we have to work through lunch and eat at our desks? Why do we rarely have 2 minutes to ourselves?

Maybe it has to do with the fear of being left behind or not being good enough or missing out on important things. Some countries and businesses are doing research into schedules and numbers of work days in a week and productivity, and you may remember the book that came out several years ago that shared the possibility of having a 4 hour work week. I don’t know that all of us could manage or even want a 4 hour work week or a 4 day work week, but I do know that we need to find a better balance in our lives so that we can experience more peace and feel less rushed and pressured.

If Jesus can take a break, I think we all can as well. How will you begin to incorporate peace and relaxation into your life on a regular basis?