Welcoming In Spring Changes

Today it was windy. It was one of those days where you don’t plan a hair style and you certainly don’t wear a hat or scarf because it would be four towns over before you could even think about trying to catch it. I know there’s the old saying about March how it can “come in like a lion and go out like a lamb” or “come in like a lamb and go out like a lion,” while the saying for April is supposed to be “April showers bring May flowers.” So while I’m glad it was a sunny day, it made me think of these sayings as well as one that fit better: the winds of change are coming.

I think we’re at the right time of year to really embrace change. Yes, there are different periods of time during the year that we talk about change more, and one of them is in the spring time with all the exciting new life around us. With this new month we’re also entering the second quarter of 2019, if you can believe the year is moving ahead that quickly. So now is a great time to not only be open to but also excited about changes that could be happening in your life.

Change happens for many different reasons, sometimes because we really encourage it to move forward, other times because we’ve taken actions that have put changes in motion, other times because the world around us is changing and growing, and sometimes there’s no real direction from change other than to see that it’s happening. I’ve been doing some planning and working ahead in anticipation of some things I already know are coming up this month and I’m open to change happening, so we’ll see if that brings along positive changes and improvements.

What about you? Could you use some ‘winds of change’ in your life, relationship or career?

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Kindness for April

Yesterday was one of my least favorite holidays of the year: April Fool’s Day. I have no problem with having fun in life and having fun with each other, but to play pranks on others and tell half truths or lies to people is just cruel on top of all that the world throws at you. I did hear one person’s rules on it for their kid that I could almost get behind and that was there could be no permanent damage, personal injury or cruelty in any of their pranks. That almost makes it OK but I’m still not a fan.

The past few days in my Lent and other devotionals there’s been a lot of talk of the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). Luke 15 also shares the story of a lost coin and a lost sheep. These devotionals reminded me of how much we can lose in life, from the seemingly small to the life-altering and how that loss affects each of us differently. Some may not have felt so strongly about a lost coin or sheep as the people in Luke 15 did, but to these people those individual coins and sheep were important.

We can screw up our lives on our own without help from anyone else. We rely on the honesty, predictability, and reliability of other people and businesses to run our lives as easily and peacefully as possible and with the least amount of stress. So when we’re faced with something like April Fool’s that gives the not-so-nice people of the world leave to play jokes (regardless of how many ‘just kidding’s’ that are said or sent with the joke), it almost makes me want to stay in bed all day and pretend the world doesn’t exist.

Unfortunately, I think we’re a lot closer to getting rid of the time change than we are of April Fool’s Day (I’d like to get rid of both). So my suggestion to help with the darkness, bad energy and bad karma that was added to the world yesterday, is that we all share a little more kindness and compassion with the world for the rest of the week. We should always have it in our minds and actions to be helpful and considerate to others, but with how yesterday may have gone for some people I think it’s more important than ever.

Missing Out on Communication

I’m back to a topic that alternately frustrates and excites me: communication.  This week I dealt with several non-responsive clients.  These are people who have already put money on the table to work with me and yet can’t be bothered to respond to my multiple communications with them over the course of several days. It results in a very frustrating experience for me, and they’re missing out on all they initially believed I could help them with by not responding. It boggles my mind to think that people pay good money for goods and services yet they don’t actually seem to care that they bought it. It’s like going out to the store, buying bananas and just putting them on the counter to turn brown because you think they look nice sitting there, meanwhile ignoring the facts that you’ll soon have fruit flies, you’re wasting money and (the big one) you’re actually allergic to bananas. Yet many people do this every day, and not just in the course of purchasing things.

My partner and I have a great relationship. It’s taken a lot of communication, time and effort to get there, but we’ve made it work. One of the things we’ve realized is important for us to do is to communicate if we’re not going to be reachable for a while. For example I have one client who doesn’t have good cell service at their location so I remind my partner each time I go there that I won’t be reachable for several hours (I’ve also learned that he forgets that I’ve told him and calls anyway, but that’s another story). But there were times when we would get frustrated because the other person wasn’t responding to texts and calls only to find out there was a nap going on or a phone was left in the car.

If we just take the extra 30 seconds to communicate an answer life would be so much less frustrating and we’d miss out on fewer awesome opportunities. No, you don’t have to have an immediate response to someone, that’s what society wants you to think with the fast food and super-speed internet. A response within a reasonable period of time or a heads up if that’s not going to be possible is all that’s necessary. I encourage you to be more attentive to your communications, and the people who matter to you.

A Life of Mindfulness

One of the things I enjoy about Lent is how it encourages us to really be mindful about our lives and what goes on in them, where we go, what we say, how we live, the choices we make. People talk about the importance of taking time to meditate, and I certainly believe that quiet time can help you work thoughts or problems out or just help to find a little peace in all the chaos of life today. But some people struggle to find time to meditate and some struggle with the concept of sitting and being still and quiet. Which is where being mindful comes in.

Being mindful means that you’re attentive and aware according to the dictionary. Mindfulness is an opportunity for anyone to be more present in the moment, to be more conscious about what’s going on around them and what they’re doing and how they’re treating others, to think more before speaking or acting, and to be more appreciative both to the universe/God and others.

While most of us have (many) more tomorrows in front of us all we’re promised is the moment we’re living now. Being mindful can help you enjoy today and all yoru days more thoroughly, to make better decisions that will serve you both presently and in the future, to invest in the relationships that add the most value to your life, and make decisions that will positively impact the people and world around you. It can also help you be more even tempered and more at peace even with the chaos of the world and all the commitments we take on.

If “right now counts forever” as Dr. R.C. Sproul said, what are you doing with your right now? Is it something that you want to look back on forever? Will it help you build a better tomorrow? Are you working for more peace in your life and the world? What are you doing with your day today?

Spring to Life

Today I am thinking spring. I’m thinking all things that come along with spring, from clearing out the clutter and cobwebs of winter to bursts of life to warmer weather and being more active. As I was reading through my Lent devotions for this week and the other regular devotions a couple of verses caught my attention:

Spring will have some dark days:
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” Psalm 23:4a

Spring is a time to be refreshed:
“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”” John 4:13-14 NIV

Spring is a time for thrive:
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

Spring is a time to celebrate:
“This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Spring is a time to search for God (and find Him):
“But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “God is great!”” Psalm 70:4

This spring can be whatever you make it out to be. It’s totally up to you. My hope is that you would take inspiration from spring slowly (or quickly) coming to life and you would do a little spring cleaning on your life so that you get rid of the things that are holding you back or down so that you can celebrate, thrive and grow into the person God has created you to be for this season in your life.

Reality Reflection: A Question of Value

Each time I sit down to write a blog post and try to come up with a topic I have to ask myself if it’s something valuable to you. Sure I could write about tons of things, but would you really find value in the book I recently read, something my partner said or something I saw? Sometimes the answer is yes, and I share with you. Other times the answer is no and I have to keep thinking about what to write.

But blog posts aren’t the only place that we question value, it happens many days at work, or with our significant others, or with our kids or parents. Sometimes we do make mistakes and it makes us question what we’re good for, sometimes it feels like all we’re doing is busy work anyone could do and it makes us doubt that we have anything unique we bring to the table.

I think we sometimes forget that value can be added or created in many different ways, including ways that can’t be measured like we often want to. There isn’t always a tangible or numerical answer to the value that you’re creating. It can be frustrating to do the same thing several times because your boss loses stuff, hear the same argument from your significant other because they refuse to see things in another way, or have to take on the same stuff for your family each week without anyone else really being willing to contribute. But in all of those things and countless other ways, you are adding value to the world.

This week I encourage you to check in with yourself before you do something to make sure that you are adding value, or how you could better add value, or if something should be dropped from the commitments of your life. Yes there will always be things that seem pointless in your life, we can’t typically get rid of all of that stuff, but we can do a better job recognizing and celebrating the good work we do, as well as making better decisions about how best to spend our time and resources. How will you add value to the world this week?

Personal (Purim) Victories

Today the Jewish communities are celebrating Purim. Purim is an interesting spiritual celebration, because it’s one of the few that the story behind it crosses more than the usual spiritual lines (to all who read the Old Testament in the Bible). In case you forget, it’s the story of Esther, and how she becomes queen and is able to plead to the king to save her life and the life of her people (the Jews). If you haven’t read it [lately], I’d encourage you to check it out here.

Before you head off because you think this might be a spiritual post, no, I’m not actually planning to talk about Purim or the story of Esther. Because while it is a faith-based story, the story is one that many of us can identify with and is really a hero/heroine story that countless people read each day. One with true love, respect, victory, the defeat of a villain, and a happily ever after. It’s also a rags to riches story, and one that shows more bravery in a few short chapters than most of us will ever show in our entire lives.

So if this isn’t a spiritual post, what is it? It’s a reminder to myself and you that anything can happen to anyone. Anyone can get lucky. Anyone can totally transform their life from the bottom to a much better life. Anyone can find the courage to do the right thing. Anyone can make the world a better place. Anyone can be a leader. Anyone can work to create a happy ending.

If the future is that bright, why are people struggling? Some struggle because they don’t find the courage to try. Some refuse the help others are offering. Some get paralyzed by all the options and can’t pick one. Some don’t believe in themselves. Some don’t get out there and look for answers or do the work to get there.

What about you? How does your future look and what are you doing to make it better?