Reality Reflection: Summer Thunderstorms

Today is the first day of summer and as usual I’m very excited. Summer is my favorite season for many reasons, including because of all of the fresh produce, longer daylight hours, and of course much warmer weather!! I also love all the fresh inspiration it provides to us because we’re able to go out and do lots of exploring of our world. Winter provides inspiration, but I don’t think it’s as varied, diverse, colorful and deep as summer or even spring and autumn. In summer we can go explore green mountains, drive through wide empty plains, see lots of animals out living their lives, watch the sun shine on the blue seas, get a little color on our skin, and of course take time to visit with extended family around the country and world.

But there’s something else that happens in the summer that doesn’t happen other times of the year or in other seasons except in locations that are warm or hot all year long, and that’s summer thunderstorms. Summer thunderstorms are different from thunderstorms that we have during other times of the year because they typically strike quick and hard and then move on their way and everything dries up and everyone can go back to their lives. That’s not to say that we don’t have days of rain or clouds in summer, because sometimes we do, but frequently the precipitation we have are these summer thunderstorms. And of course the power and beauty of the lightning and storms are part of the magic that is summer.

Where am I going with all this? Well, for one it’s another reason I love summer, but also because it’s a relief in a sea of challenges we’re facing right now. Looking at the weather and knowing that there’s going to be a thunderstorm isn’t the same concern or day wrecker that it would be during another time of the year. It means you just have to have a plan for where you can go to be dry for the short time when if/when it does storm. It doesn’t mean you have to cancel your plans, avoid having fun, avoid experiencing summer, not see people like you planned, or that the sun will be hidden for the whole day. Summer thunderstorms also often bring in a breath of fresh air and a little cooler temperatures that helps break up the heat and humidity that comes with summer.

So if you get a summer thunderstorm in the coming days I encourage you to take a moment to enjoy it and all the gifts it brings.

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.

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.

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: Taking it Slow

We’ve arrived in June and one of the things that people used to really associate with summer were long rides off in the country. Now that’s something that people who ride bikes do more than those of us with cars, but many of us have a memory of being in the country on a road trip or just taking that Sunday drive. The thing that always awed and perplexed me was how there wasn’t necessarily always a destination. That people would just drive for a couple of hours, see whatever they saw and that was the whole point.

As I was thinking about long summer drives in the countryside I also got to thinking about how we move through stages of our lives. Sometimes we have seemingly little choice and it’s all thrust on us and we have to move quickly in a period of days or weeks or at most 6 months, while other times it seems like days are twice as long and years take decades to pass. But there’s a difference between things progressing slowly and choosing to move through things slowly and with care.

Sometimes the best thing is to take it one day at a time, to not plan a lot into the future, to work one small change into your life each week or month and slowly build on it, knowing that your future will be built on these small moments. Maybe we’ve got it wrong that we don’t do Sunday afternoon drives anymore or just laze by the lake. Maybe we need to build more of those slow tours into our lives rather than rushing and constantly trying to beat the clock. Maybe what we need most is the patience and willingness to stop and smell the roses rather than just focusing on a destination.

Reality Reflection: Baseball’s Long Season

Lately I’ve been thinking about the sport of baseball, especially since my partner watches a lot of it and we’re getting close to winding down another season. Each year teams play over 160 games, which is the most of any sport. While it may not be as physical as football or soccer, 160+ games are still a lot of games to play.

By the time you get to the end of the season it’s always interesting to see who is ahead in the number of games and who is still or now playing well. Some teams begin well and end well (but can’t win anything in between), some consistently do decently enough throughout the whole season to be in contention for post season, some don’t play well all season long, and some just play so well that there’s never a question during any part of the season that they’re going to be at the top of the ranks.

The long season is one reason why a team can get a second wind, even if it won’t totally fix a team’s (poor) season. That second wind is incredibly frustrating for fans because they want to see their team play that well all season long, and wonder why they can’t. It also causes me to think about the seasons of our lives and how sometimes we really need a little more time for things to develop, and that short and quick aren’t always the answer.

I think the secret to success during long journeys like this is to be able to get focused and stay focused for a sufficient period of time each day, to have a team that can support you and you can support them, to not have to or plan to rely on luck all the time, and to not just focus on the big win but work more on the smaller stepping stone victories that will lead to that bigger victory.

Enjoying the Simple and the Complicated

As I’ve been thinking about the simple things of life and about taking a break, I’ve been realizing how not simple life really is. Some of the not simple things are awesome like washers and dryers and roller coasters, but some of the not simple things aren’t so great like all the chemicals that have been added to products we use and consume in our daily lives. And while over the past few years it has been slowly changing with technology, the number of people who used to be involved with bringing one product or service to fruition was quite large. The fact is we’ve done a really good job of including complications in our lives, and sometimes that’s not a bad thing.

I’m not interested in going back to a life that’s overly simple. I like being able to call half way around the world and talk with someone in moments. I like to collaborate with people in Australia and Africa as well as just a few blocks away. I like that the internet works when I need it to without me knowing the ins-and-outs of how it works. I like that I don’t have to be responsible for creating all the food I eat or the products I use. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not important to make time for the simple things.

There’s incredible value to be found in taking time for the simple things. Whether you take time to pick up and enjoy the color of an autumn leaf, you dance around in the first snow flurries of the year, you sit down beside the fire with a good book or coloring page or knitting project, or you enjoy a meal of locally grown products, they’re opportunities to slow down and to appreciate the individuality of life.

As we roll through these last weeks of summer I encourage you to take time to discover exactly how complicated life is, how many parts make up the whole, and how awesome those little parts are.

Reality Reflection: Something To Smile About

Some days when the sun comes up we’re not so excited, but today as I watched the sun slowly rise and add light to the land what I was feeling was hope. It helps that yesterday was cloudy and cool, but there’s something special and exciting about summer mornings. Maybe it has to do with old memories of waking up early to drive to the beach and seeing the sun come up as we drove. Or maybe it just has to do with summer mornings being the only mornings that ever make me happy. Some days it feels like we have to focus on finding things to celebrate, but with summer mornings for some reason I’m just excited to start the day.

What about you? What will you find in your journey today that will make you smile? Will it be the discovery of flowers that have bloomed over night for the first time? Will it be the way the sun light hits some raindrops left over from the night before? Will it be that first taste of coffee today? Will it be the joy between your dog and your kids as they play on the grass? Will it be a book you’re finally making time to read? Will it be the cheerful song of a bird? Will it be a special night out with your significant other?

Sometimes at the end of the day it is hard to come up with a list of things we’re thankful for or good things that happened, but if we start the day with the expectation that good things are coming our way, that there will be things to smile about (however small), and that today can be a good day, not only are we more likely to have a better day, we’re more likely to notice those special moments that are meant for us to see.

For Just a Season

This week we officially enter the season of summer, and the temperatures in many parts of the US are supporting that transition.  As I was thinking about the summer season, I was reminded of the Ecclesiastes passage that talks about there being a time for every season and every thing in our lives.  It’s a reminder that everything has it’s time in our lives, that sometimes we have to be patient, and that there’s a right (and wrong) time for everything.

But as I thought about it some more I was reminded that a season is exactly that: a season. It’s not our entire lives or the only thing in our lives, it’s a part of it.  Summer for us lasts 3 or so months and then there’s a new season.  The dictionary even describes a season as “a period or time….especially a short time.”

So what if for this summer season you take it as a season for your life? A season to be proactive about making positive comments on social media, or a season to eat healthy for at least one meal a day, or a season to fight as little as possible with your kids, or a season to learn about yourself, or a season to explore the great country that we share.

That means that from the summer solstice (June 21) to the autumn equinox (September 22) you take the time to focus on doing something good for yourself or the world, doing something you’ve been meaning to do, or consistently doing something that you’ve been inconsistent with.  It’s a chance to try something new, to get to know yourself better, to grow, and to do what needs to be done in your life.

What will this summer season be for you?

A Summer of Growth

Summer is one of my favorite seasons. It’s a season so full of life and living that it just makes me happy. As I was thinking about the summer growing season of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as Father’s Day this past Sunday in the USA, it got me thinking about how things grow. The term growth in and of itself implies that you start with something smaller than you end up with. If we’re talking about change it could be a transformation because of going from one thing to another, but that doesn’t mean that the size of something has to change. But with growth it is about size and starting with something smaller than you’re going to end up with.

People grow, plants grow, and animals grow, and the one thing that we all have in common is that we start small. No matter how big the tree gets, how big the dog is, or how tall the human is, each one of them started as a very small seed. If you think about companies like Amazon, Walmart and Verizon, they didn’t start as the giants they are, they started as little ideas with a person or group of people. Buildings don’t appear fully built, they start as boards, beams and pieces.

God doesn’t expect you and I to be the person we’re meant to be instantly, He knows there is a growing process we go through in our lives. The thing about growth is that even if it’s going very slowly it continues. Sometimes pruning is necessary to ensure that growth continues, but either you’re growing or you’re dying. I don’t know about you but I’m not ready to die yet.

But the reminder here today is that everyone starts somewhere. The smartest people in the world didn’t start off that way, they started off just like you and I. The people who become presidents and cure sicknesses started off just like you and I. You don’t have to be anyone but who you are at this moment. The important question is what you’re going to do with your next few moments and where you’re growing and going from here.  How will you grow this summer?