Reality Reflection: Looking for Luck

Luck is an interesting concept, I’ve been thinking about it today as I was looking through coupons, discounts and special offers. We apply the concept of luck in so many different ways in our lives: there’s the luck of finding the perfect parking space, the luck of running into someone you were thinking about, the luck of what you need being available during the emergency trip to the store, the lucky lottery ticket, the luck of meeting the right significant other, and the luck of getting a great deal. From this list it really sounds like there’s no shortage of luck to be found, which is pretty good news in my book.

But what got me thinking about it really was that sometimes the win isn’t there. Sometimes we don’t get that winning lottery ticket or they’re all sold out at the store or we get in a car accident or the umpteenth significant other turns out to be a poor choice. That’s part and parcel when dealing with luck, but also sometimes with life in general, no matter how well you plan and take action. And yet we keep buying the lottery tickets, looking for perfect parking spots and dreaming about the day our dreams come true.

Which is actually a really good sign because it means we haven’t given up on life yet, and we’ve still got hope. I know it can be daunting to find hope when you’ve been burned so many times, but I believe it’s still possible to get lucky. Maybe it means we’ve got to look in a different parking lot or try a different lottery game or get counseling or coaching before trying to date again. Luck isn’t always about those instant wins, sometimes those wins take a little work and time to get to them. If you believe it’s possible to get or be lucky, and I do, maybe you’ve just been expecting luck to show up in the wrong places or ways, and it’s time to try something different.

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The Adventure of Easter Eggs

As many people are, I’m thinking about Easter coming up on Sunday. Whether you celebrate it more as a spring holiday and just get together with friends and family, or it’s a religious day for you, something that’s very traditional and well-known are Easter eggs. People, churches and towns around the US will gather up little plastic eggs of bright colors and hide pieces of chocolate or candy and little stickers and toys inside of them and then scatter or hide them around the house and yard for little boys and girls to find.  Maybe you’ve had the fun opportunity of filling the empty eggs with the surprises for the boys and girls.

If you think about it, Easter eggs are a lot like each of us: you never know what’s inside until you open up the egg. Sometimes you’ll find it filled with treats that you would rather trade with someone else and sometimes you’ll be thrilled with the surprise inside. Part of the gift of Easter eggs though, are the adventure of finding them, or of getting to know the other people that we share this world with. Just because the egg is yellow on the outside doesn’t mean that you’ll find the same thing on the inside all the time, or that it will always be your favorite filling because you love yellow.

As you finish this week working on victories, I encourage you to not judge people before you get to know them. Apply the breaks a bit to your speed through life and take the time to get to know someone before you jump to a conclusion about who they are or what role they may play in your life and success.  Maybe even take the time to get to know someone that you’ve not connected with in a long time or never really took the time to develop the relationship beyond a surface level.  The way you treat others can have a big impact on your ability to achieve victories, personally I’d rather have a team I can work with than find myself alone trying to be everything for everyone.

Stopping in the Journey

This month started off with World Book Day on the first Thursday of the month. Personally I’m a big reader and have great respect for authors. They’ve brought the ideas that are in their heads, taken the experiences they’ve had and put the things they’ve seen on paper, which is a lot harder to do than it sounds. As I sit here listening to snow fall off tree branches from the first significant snowfall I’ve seen in quite a few years a poem came to mind that I heard as a child. It’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost. It’s a great story poem and shares some wisdom too.

“Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

I love a good story and really appreciate how Robert Frost has taken the time to set the stage and really makes us feel like we’re there, but without the cold! I really appreciate that the person has taken the time to really notice what’s going on around them. I know that horses travel much slower than we do in cars so it’s easier to really take things in that are going on around us, but even in our regular lives we’re power walking, thinking of where we’re heading, talking on the phone or doing something, and as good as we are at multitasking it’s just not easy to really take in this kind of detail without stopping and looking.

But the poem ends with a reminder to both the person telling the poem and the reader that there are miles to go yet. It’s a challenge and an encouragement that the journey isn’t over yet. So if the journey you’re on seems to be a little longer than you were thinking and you’re getting tired, don’t give up yet. Maybe it’s the perfect time to stop and take a moment and look at the world around you.

Plans and Victories

One of the most interesting and memorable victories in the Bible is found in the book of Joshua. To give a little background, the story of Jericho happens about 40 years after the Israelites leave Egypt and is part of their conquering of the promised land. The story begins with Joshua meeting the Commander of the Lord’s Armies, then God telling Joshua that the battle plan was to march around Jericho once a day for 6 days. On the 7th day they were to march around the city 7 times while the priests blew trumpets then shout and the walls would fall down allowing the soldiers to enter Jericho and conquer it.

We’ve learned a lot about sound since the days of Joshua and Jericho and can use it in some pretty fantastic ways, but if any of us made a plan to win a war I don’t think our first choice would be marching and yelling. It would be great if we could solve more problems with our words and a nice walk but that’s not how battles usually go. They usually start with a grand entry strategy followed more quickly by violence. No, violence wasn’t excluded from God’s plan, but it wasn’t the first part of His plan, and yes, the Israelites did conquer Jericho successfully and destroyed it like God told them to (with the exception of Rahab and her family).

Jericho was one of several tests that God gave to the Israelites to make sure they were faithful to Him and followed His instructions. The goal of the current phase of life the Israelites were in was to get to the promised land, and in order to do that they had to defeat the current occupants, including the people of Jericho. In this specific case God asked the Israelites to walk, shout, fight and then destroy Jericho, which is what they did, bringing them one step closer to owning the promised land.

In our lives God gives us instructions and sometimes He’ll give us a specific set of steps to take while other times He leaves it up to us to figure out how to get from point “a” to point “b.” If God gives you a specific set of steps to take it’s not an insult on your intelligence, it’s how He sees things going best for all who may be involved. If God leaves it up to you He knows you’re able to make a good plan up and/or you’ll learn lessons along the way that you need to learn.

If you’re struggling with victories in your life is it because you’re not following the steps God has given you or because your plan isn’t working out so well? If you’re going against God’s plan you may never get to the victory. If your plan isn’t working out well and none of the previous ones did, don’t be discouraged, maybe God has a new direction for you, you’re not quite understanding the time line for the victory, or you need to get more creative and try something you haven’t tried before. What victory are you and God working on right now?

Victories Yesterday and Today

Today ends the celebration of the Jewish holiday Purim. It’s technically an event that’s celebrated by multiple religions, including Christians, but for the Jews it’s a very important holiday. Purim is the celebration of the defeat of Haman’s plot to kill all the Jews. God, Mordecai and Esther intervened and saved the day, and I would encourage you to take time to read the whole story, it’s only 10 chapters long and more of a story than anything, in the book of Esther. Typically in the middle of the week I blog about victories, and the story of Esther is certainly a story of victories. There’s some trial and tribulation, as there is with just about every victory, but ultimately the bad guy loses and there’s a happy ending.

This is a big victory for Moredecai, Esther and the Jews. Many times you hear about the struggles that the Jewish people have gone through and don’t hear about the victories they’ve had, especially since they don’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah that they’re waiting for and Jerusalem has been a hotly contested location for a very long time. But the events surrounding Purim are a very real and tangible opportunity for them (and us) to celebrate, it’s a good day any time a people group isn’t persecuted or massacred. For Esther especially it’s a victory for her personally, for women and for Jewish women because she took the opportunity God presented to her, stood up for what she believed, prepared and presented the situation to the King (her husband), and got all that she asked for.

Something else to consider is that Purim is really a remembrance celebration. I was thinking recently about the balance that it’s necessary to find in remembering the past and moving forward. Each year we celebrate the day that we were born, after all we would not be here if it was not for that day. There’s value in celebrating the recent victories as well as the victories from the past, as long as the focus on celebrating past victories don’t hold you back from celebrating future ones.

So what are you celebrating today, either from years ago or today that recently happened?

Reality Reflection: Right and Wrong

Let’s be honest, no one really likes to be wrong. We sometimes find a little too much joy in others being wrong, but it’s not so much fun when we’re the issue or we did wrong. I’m secure enough in my relationship with my partner, as well as in my relationship with myself, to almost always be able to admit when I’m wrong. I’m not perfect in that if I don’t have to admit I’m wrong I may not, but when the situation calls for it I can admit I was wrong.

When it comes to being wrong, we’re not usually completely wrong, typically we’re at least partially right or moving in the right direction. Which brings me to the questions that I wanted to talk about today: “what if you were right?” and “what if you were wrong?”

The reason I want to spend time talking about these questions is because they can really open up your perspective and get you to think more creatively about what is possible. What if you were right about how perfect you and your partner are for each other? What if you were right that the weather won’t be too bad tomorrow? What if you were right that you’re worth more as an employee? What if you were right that dogs are the best animal on the planet? What if you were right that you’ve got a dream worth pursuing? What if you were right about your boss being a sexist jerk? What if you were right about the bad direction one of your kids was going in? What if you were right about your partner never changing into the person you thought they were? If you were right what would you do or what would be different in your life?

But what if you were wrong? Would your life fall apart? Would you be able to repair a relationship? Would you spiral into a depression? Would you be able to keep your head high? Would you be able to move away? Would you be able to start over? Would you be able to make new friends? Would you be able to try something new? Would you be able to pay the fine? Would you be able to admit you’re wrong and move on to making changes so you can be right?

What would change in your attitude, your perspective or your hope if you were right or wrong? I encourage you to take time considering these questions as we begin this new week, and seeing how they can open your mind to a different, hopefully better, future.

More Victories for 2018

The new year is here and it’s time to talk about resolutions and making changes. I’m not a big fan of setting resolutions, they add extra stress to life that most of us don’t need. But, I do like the concepts behind resolutions: taking action and making changes. If you didn’t have as many victories last year as you wanted, there’s no time like the present to make changes so that you do have the victories you want this year.

Each day is a new opportunity to be better, live better, love better, work better and build better relationships than you did yesterday. You don’t have to wait for a new year, but there are reasons people choose to start fresh or make changes at the beginning of the year. And there’s nothing wrong with making resolutions and changes now, it’s as good an opportunity as any.

So what are you going to do with this new year and this day? Here are a few keys for making the most of it:

-set up a plan and take at least a little action each and every day that will bring you towards your goals. You can do something as simple as cleaning off your desk at the end of the day or journaling every day, or as big as cooking/preparing meals for the week or creating content for your business for the month.

-make sure there are plenty of rewards along the way. Maybe that means you get cookies or ice cream at the end of the day after eating really well all day long. Maybe that means having 30 minutes to yourself at the end of the day with no interruptions or other people involved unless you want them there.

-expect and plan for setbacks. There will be issues that appear along the way so it’s better to be prepared now for them to happen. That means having extra money in the bank, extra time in your schedule and extra plans (plan b, c, d, e etc.) thought of that you can put into action if necessary.

What are you going to work on accomplishing this year and how will you make it happen?