Making Smart Choices

A topic I think about regularly is choice. It’s come up with some early holiday sale commercials and previews in the past few days and will more so as the days get closer to Black Friday and holiday shopping and choosing which holiday events and gatherings to attend, and it’s also something we deal with in many other aspects of our lives like healthcare and even people we’re friends with or in relationships with, not to mention the shopping we do on a regular basis throughout the year.

Everyone from the general populous and average consumer to business owner is blessed to be living in this time because we’ve got so many options available to us. This is such a huge blessing because we’re not stuck shopping or doing business with just one provider, we’ve got options. We don’t have to choose to do business with or shop with or be friends with someone who we feel uncomfortable around or doesn’t understand us or isn’t really offering something we like.  Sometimes we do have to do some work to find the right option for us, but let’s be honest, we’re shopping around and researching normally anyway, so we’re not likely to do much extra work anyway, right?

Of course, that puts a lot of the responsibility on the shoulders of business owners to provide accurate information, timely responses and of course be super customer friendly.  When any one of those aren’t working for us, we’re heading elsewhere and a business has lost a sale.  On a personal level whether talking about employees and bosses or friends and extended family, it’s a responsibility on all our shoulders to treat each other as humans, and with respect and dignity.  We don’t have to be friends with or connected to everyone, so don’t feel bad about making choices that are right for you.

And we can’t deny that there is some responsibility on our shoulders, and that’s to not just go with our first option blindly. We are still responsible for doing our due diligence in researching a company or person we’re connecting with, and making sure they’re a good fit for us. When you’re having a bad gut reaction or not feeling like you’re heard or feeling like there’s missing information and things just aren’t lining up in a way that makes you feel comfortable, walk away.  There’s nothing wrong with going with your first option, but it’s just smart to make sure that the first option is really your best choice.

What smart choices are you making this week?

Using Our God Given Senses

One of the big gifts that God has given us are our senses. I’m sure most people have done some experimenting to find out what it would be like without one sense or another, and I semi joked the other day that my taste buds may have deserted me because I couldn’t taste an apple. But it’s a serious thing when people are born without or lose one of their senses. Yes, people can learn to compensate, but it’s not easy and not something anyone really chooses to do, and not having a sense isn’t really something to joke about. The other day I read Matthew 13:16 ERV:

“But God has blessed you. You understand what you see with your eyes. And you understand what you hear with your ears.”

As great as our senses are, sometimes I think we forget to use them to their fullest, forget to use all of them together, or forget that we even have them, or take them for granted. This verse comes from one of the many stories about Jesus, and in this chapter of Matthew Jesus talks about the different people that are on the earth, some who are completely blind to God and can’t hear what He’s trying to say, and others who are able to see and hear what God is saying and doing in the world.

As much as it would have been nice if Jesus just said what He meant, He often used parables. Parables are a great tool because different people relate to the world differently and what one person may understand or relate to because of one parable, someone else won’t. They also might not understand or easily relate to or identify with what Jesus was trying to say if He just put it out there plain and simple. So Jesus used parables to give people as many opportunities as possible to understand what He was trying to teach them.

What about you? Are you able to see down to the heart of your life and what God is trying to tell you? Are you using all tools and senses at your disposal to make the most of your life and help others? Or are you in tunnel vision, denying the truth of life around you? Accept the blessing God has given you and use your senses to see the world around you, to see the truth about others and live the way that honors God.

Reality Reflections: What is Adventure Anyway?

In looking for some inspiration for today’s blog post I came across a great quote:

“What is adventure? If a lone wolf lifts his plaintive call into the moonlight near your campsite, you might call that adventure. While you’re sweating like a horse on a climb over a 12,000 foot pass, that could be adventure. When howling head winds press your lips against your teeth, you face a mighty struggle. When your pack grows heavy on your shoulders as your climb a 14,000 foot peak, you feel the adventure. When you suffer freezing temperatures and 20 inches of fresh powder on a hut to hut trip in the Rockies, that could be called adventure. But that’s not what makes an adventure. It’s your willingness to conquer it, and to present yourself at the doorstep of nature. That creates the experience. No more greater joy can come from life than to live inside a moment of adventure. It is the uncommon wilderness experience that gives your life expectation.” Frosty Wooldridge

The sentiment here could be spoken about making victories in our lives as well.  There are tons of ways to get to victories, and tons of challenges to face in our lives.  More often it’s not a question of ‘could there be a victory’ but ‘will what’s necessary be done to achieve that victory’ or ‘is that a victory I can sacrifice for’ or ‘is that really a victory I want to achieve’?  We’re a little over 2 months from the end of another year and I don’t know about you but I’m a little disappointed by how this year has gone so far and am feeling a bit of pressure to have more victories to end out the year.  I’m not seeing a coast to the finish line this year but an uphill climb.  But I know that if I want 2020 to start off right and I want to feel OK about how this year went I need to get to work.

If you’re struggling a bit at this point, know you’re not alone and that help is just an email, phone call or Facebook message away, whether it’s a family member, friend or someone like myself who will suspend judgment on your situation and just help you overcome because my only bias is that your life has value and you’re worth the victories you could be having.  Don’t give up because you’ve only got 2 months left in the year, choose to conquer those 2 months successfully.

Lessons in Waiting

Today I want to pose a question to you: What are you waiting for?

I read this question the other day and it got me thinking about how life works and waiting. Sometimes you feel like life is stuck or you’re not sure what step to take next, and if you look behind that feeling of frustration you’ll probably find something that you’re waiting for. Maybe it’s something magical or spiritual that you’re waiting for, or maybe it’s simply a helping hand from a friendly stranger, or maybe it’s an age you are waiting to reach, or a deadline you set for yourself. Whatever it is, sometimes the biggest key to breaking through the frustration is realizing that you were waiting for something in the first place, because once you know you’re waiting, you’re able to get out there and work towards that goal or release that thing you’re waiting for.

There’s nothing wrong with waiting for things in life, I know it seems like society has tried to teach us otherwise, but waiting is a normal and healthy part of life. It teaches us that some things are worth waiting for (like Christmas each year), or that sometimes we have to earn things, or that sometimes when we wait we realize or find out that what we were wanting isn’t good or right for us. Waiting also gives us time to build relationships and put effort into things, rather than just having things handed to us and losing the substance that instantaneous often doesn’t create.

Waiting sometimes also gives us the opportunity to be brave and strike out on our own or take action to make things happen that wouldn’t get done or wouldn’t get done in a particular way if it was just handed to us. That time of waiting can help develop skills and confidence and expose us to things that we would miss out on otherwise, things that are crucial to our success or growth in the future.

So what are you waiting for today? Is it something you should take action on rather than waiting any longer? Is it something you should stop waiting for and move on to something else? Or is it teaching you patience and encouraging you to slow down in life? What are you waiting for?

Waiting For Answers To Prayer

One of the more frustrating experiences for someone of faith is unanswered prayers. The Bible tells us again and again that our prayers are indeed answered and God definitely hears our prayers so that isn’t the cause of our frustration. Part of our frustration is God’s timeline vs. our timeline. We are used to the fast food, high speed internet, 2 day shipping life, wherein we can get answer or things in a few minutes or few days at most. But few relationships are made in 2 days, homes aren’t built in 2 days, and God doesn’t always answer prayers in 2 days. Sometimes these things take years, which can be hard for us to understand or accept, but we have to trust and have faith in God’s plan and timing.

Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m in a bit of a waiting pattern and I’m dealing with some of that frustration myself. There are moments I’m definitely enjoying not being quite so busy, and while it took a little while I finally have been getting stuff on my to-do list done. As I’ve shared on some of my other blogs recently, I’ve been reminded how even giving a little time and effort can bring some great results. I’m amazed how little time some of these things take and how much sooner I could have gotten them done if I knew it wouldn’t take that long (and were willing to accept something other than perfection or a complete job).

So while I’m still waiting for answers to prayers, I’m finally adjusting to waiting. It’s been a reminder how each moment is a gift, even if it’s not the gift you were expecting or hoping for. But it’s not like the gift of that “fantastic” knitted sweater from a grandmother or aunt that you might get at Christmas, but it’s a gift that you can actually use and benefit from. If you’re waiting right now for answers to prayer too, I encourage you to look around and see if God’s giving you a different answer to prayer or has some other things that you should be doing right now, instead of being focused on what you have been. What will you be able to cross off your to-do list this week?

Reality Reflection: The Whole Picture

Today I want to talk about a topic that has been bothering me for some time.  Personally I think it’s one of the biggest causes of failures, frustrated employees, dissatisfied relationships and general miserableness.  What is it?  It’s not taking the time to get the whole picture.  Let me give you a few examples:

Your partner asks you to go to the store for milk.  You go and get the milk the house typically drinks, and when you return they ask why you didn’t get bread as well or why you got that kind instead of the other kind.

Your boss asks you to write up a proposal for a project.  You do so based on the others you’ve done in the past.  You pass it to your boss expecting to be able to get back to your work and they ask you to do it again because they wanted it with different targets or goals.

Paperwork on your family car (insurance or government) comes up to be renewed.  Your partner is working so they ask you to do it.  You get there to do it only to be told that the only person who can renew it is the person whose name is on it, which isn’t indicated anywhere on the paperwork. 

You get the idea? In each case there was more to the story than was first known.  Why the full story couldn’t be told in the first place completely boggles my mind.  Is it a test that you want someone to pass or fail by not telling them the whole thing?  Do you expect someone to read your mind and know what you really meant?  Or is it just a case of you not really thinking things through and failing to communicate properly?

I do understand that sometimes we just forget to tell the whole story or sometimes we don’t say too much because we don’t want to micro manage or overwhelm with details.  But there’s a really big space between providing necessary details and micromanaging or over communicating.

This week I challenge you to take notice of how you interact with other people.  Are you a half-done picture person, or do you communicate the whole picture to them?

Tell Your Own Story

I was reading an article about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the heir to the British royal throne and his wife, and their tour through Pakistan this week. The article talked about how the whole world is watching their story unfold, that we’re watching their autobiography be written with each word he/they say(s), thing he/they do(es) and place he/they goes. Many people don’t have a story written until they’re much older because they aren’t famous or important throughout their whole lives, but in the case of the Duke especially, we’ve always known that his future is important and bears watching.

One of the things that caught my attention in the article was how they saw and placed importance on the story that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (and other royal family members) are creating through how they live. The Queen for example has done a great job of writing a story that portrays her as a strong leader who loves life and is extremely proud of her country and people. Just like them, we too have a say in the choices we make in our lives, but we aren’t usually as carefully conscious of how the way we live will impact the story we’re hoping to write.

Halloween is coming up in just about two weeks, and it’s a chance for many of us to tell a story about our dreams and someone we wish we could be or dream about being or have a fantasy about. For some of us it’s a chance for a little fun, but for others of us we’re serious about the person we’re dressing up to be, it’s who we wish we could be and part of a story we wish we were writing.

Life does hold responsibilities we each have to face, but more than ever people are proving that you don’t have to be something you hate or do what your parents wanted you to do just to meet those responsibilities. We each have the ability to choose how we conduct ourselves even when dealing with people and things we don’t really enjoy or are burdened by. Much of our story is told through what we say and how we conduct ourselves, especially when it’s difficult, and that’s definitely something we have control over especially when we don’t have control over other things like how other people act.

What story are you telling through your words and actions?  Is it time to write a new chapter in your story, or maybe even a whole new book?