Archives For attitude

Perseverance

June 10, 2013 — Leave a comment

perseverance

If you could only know how tired I really am – tired of work, tired of church, tired of hearing the “perseverance” message. Like the (admittedly awesome) perseverance message I heard at church last night. There’s way more to it than the following, but this is what I heard:

  • Don’t quit!
  • What you’re looking for is just right past the next difficult challenge!
  • Don’t give up!
  • If you quit now, you’ll never see what’s around the next corner/over the next hill/behind the next door!

It made me want to vomit. I can’t hear this anymore. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t not quit anymore.

Ok – now that all the whining is out of the way, maybe I can move on.

I reallyreallyreallyreally want to just give up, but I can’t. No matter how hard, no matter how long, no matter how much it hurts. There’s been too much giving up in the past, too many people hurt because I lost my nerve, too many lessons learned.

What I thought was – look at all these successful people. It must have been so easy for them to get where they are. Look at them – out in front, doing what God designed them to do. God must not have had a plan for me since it’s so hard, and it’s so hard I just can’t do it anymore so I will do something else and forget about this.

Stupid. That’s what that was. And listen, taking the easy path is not so easy. Average is just as hard, in different ways.

What I mean is, if you’re not living your dream, you still have to live. You still have to work. You still have to provide for you family. And whatever job you end up in still wants quality work from you, and you have to do quality work while carrying the baggage of being a quitter – the person who ran away from their dream.

I so hate the word perseverance. I will find every dictionary on the earth and mark that word out with a Sharpie. It’s a bad, bad word when you’ve turned your back on your dream. If you’ve turned your back on your dream, hearing that word makes you crazy. It gets you into arguments, it makes your stomach hurt. It makes you want to go to Barnes & Noble with a Sharpie looking to do some vandalism.

I googled the word “perseverance.” Mostly to check that I was spelling it right. Did an image search, too. A bunch of pictures of cute sayings about making lemonade out of lemons came up. Here’s a few:

  • When life gives you lemons, squeeze the the juice into life’s eyes.
  • Life giving you lemons? Be glad it’s not (insert random horrible disease)
  • Unless life also gives you water and sugar, your lemonade is going to suck
  • If life gives you melons, you may be dyslexic
  • If life gives you lemons, you better blog about it
  • If life gives you lemons, keep them, because FREE LEMONS!

I like that last one. At least you’ve got something, right? Actually, I think I will make life take them back. I want a refund. Not store credit. No, I don’t want to trade them for limes. I want to trade them for something better. I want to trade up. I don’t want your stinking lemons. I demand to speak with your supervisor because these lemons are not what I want.

This is the part where you find out who you are, what you’re made of. Are you a quitter? Are you going to whine some more, then skulk back to that 9-5 and accept that this is what life has handed you, or are you going to take this life that you’ve been given and do something with it? Something only you can do – something that God dreamed up, put in your head and will take more than what you are to accomplish?

There’s a hazy future out there – that’s why it’s called a dream. When you’re in a dream it can seem so real, but when you wake up it all gets fuzzy. If you could just remember the details, maybe you could make something out of it.

Getting from A to Z sometimes takes you all the way through CDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWX&Y. And the people you meet, the challenges you face, and how you face them – those things determine how long it takes you to get there.

What I think I’m finding out, in my old age, is that perseverance is the work you do after you get tired of doing all the work you already did. Someone famous said something like that, don’t remember who. But yeah, thanks for that.

Someone else, also kinda famous, said something like this - “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Not crushed, not in despair, not abandoned, not destroyed. Renewed day by day.

How?

By not focusing on what to an eternal, powerful, loving God, are light and momentary troubles. By fixing our eyes on what is forever. By living in the Kingdom right now!

Fear is a liar – fear says “you can’t do this – it’s too hard, it will take too long, it will cost too much.” Tell fear to take it to your Dad. The enemy – and Satan is your enemy, don’t doubt it for a minute – wants you to be afraid, so that you will settle for average. God has so much more for you than average!

How long it takes you to get there is up to you -

Rubber Mallet

April 1, 2013 — Leave a comment

Rubber-Mallet

 

On the way home from work today, it was nice, I had my window down, nice breeze blowing in. Then at a stop light, a giant red wasp came in the window, so I jumped out. Everyone thought I was crazy, but at least I didn’t get stung. They always sting me in the head, too. Probably because I’m bald.

I picked my oldest daughter up from school, went to pick the youngest up at day care, and realized when I got there that my window would not roll back up. And, on top of that, there’s severe weather headed our way.

So, I popped off the door panel, whacked the motor with a hammer – nothing. I whacked it more. I whacked it with a wrench, then the hammer again, then with a ratchet just in case. Nothing.

Now, we can afford to have this fixed. It’s not a problem. It’s not a great time to be spending money. We have it. But it’s earmarked for other things – important things. So I was mad, Cheryl was mad, the kids were mad that we weren’t going to take a walk and that Cheryl and I were mad. I didn’t say a word through dinner. I was really mad!

Half way through eating, something (God) told me to hit it with a rubber mallet after dinner. All of this is going on in my head – Me: I don’t have a rubber mallet. The Voice: Yes you do. In the garage by the Christmas tree. Hit the door right by where the motor is. Me: No. The Voice: Yes. One good whack. Me: I’ve hit it with a hammer and a wrench and ratchet. I’m not going to hit it with a rubber mallet. The Voice: HIT YOUR DOOR WITH A RUBBER MALLET AND THE WINDOW WILL GO UP.

So, I stopped eating, went and found the rubber mallet right where I was told it was, hit the door, flipped the switch, and the window went up.

Imagine that.

Most people will not have a conversation like that in their head. I generally don’t. God doesn’t generally speak to me like that. It’s feelings, impressions, ideas. Not real words.

But I think God does still speak this way – he did with me tonight. Over a busted power window. Think what might happen if I listen to Him when it’s really important – think if we all learned to listen! What a world this would be!

Change

September 18, 2012 — Leave a comment

loose-change

I’ve got a little change in my pocket. Not a lot, mind you. Just a little. Not enough to make a phone call, as if there were any pay phones anymore. I expect the ones that are not completely vandalized or uninstalled probably have forgotten how to work at this point.

Change – it’s like a four-letter word to most people, but with 2 vowels – making six letters total, but it wouldn’t look right if it was “chng.” You’d all be thinking, “ching? What’s ching?”

If you’ve ever grown up, grown hair, grown fingernails or grown a chia pet, you have experienced change in some form or another. It’s constant, necessary, sometimes beneficial, sometimes not so much. But one thing is for sure in life – change is always coming.

Some people like their change in a mason jar on the shelf, where you can pull it out every now and then and snag a few quarters for a coke. Others like change similar to what Loki did to New York in Avengers. If you think about it, there’s really no in-between. It’s either grand and sweeping, or subtle and underplayed. But most of the time there’s pain involved.

Some people like change just for the sake of change. “I’m tired of the way it is, let’s change things up!” These types of leaders irritate me. If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.

Some people like change because of the possibilities it can offer – “This is broken and needs to be fixed,” or, “this could be better if we tweak it here and here.” I like those kinds of leaders.

I have been both in the past.

One church where I was an associate pastor, well, let’s just say I thought it was broken, and the only way to fix it was to totally deconstruct everything. I did not seek approval, did not seek wise counsel, did not even pray about it much. I just outlined a 12 month plan and dove in.

Nobody knew what I was doing except I was really pissing them off. Sorry – that’s what they literally said to me.

I went from 30 in the youth group to 10, back up to 50+ pretty quick, but because my thinking was off, it was never enough – I broke it, fixed it, tweaked it, shined it up and spray painted it and when I stood back to admire my creation, there was just not much good about it. Plus that whole losing the trust and good-will of the people thing.

After that I was gun shy, and vowed not to change anything for 12 months, and it ended up pretty much the same as before. I think next time I will at least pray a bit, and ask for some help.

I think that’s what leaders are doing on a world scale these days. It’s really broken. It’s bad. Nobody has a clue what to do about it and what is being done is breaking it more. And we are at each other’s throats.

Will prayer and wise counsel even work? For our nation? For our world?

I think yes, if we have leaders who are humble, who don’t think they know everything, who know they don’t have all the answers, but are willing to listen to “we the people” and accept that they are “we the people” just like you and me.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 exhorts us to pray for our leaders, so that life can be good for us. Life is not all that bad for me. It is pretty bad for a lot of people though – I wonder if prayer really does change things? I wonder…

Crazy Ideas

August 5, 2012 — Leave a comment

ace site idea 1

I have a fairly active imagination. In other words, I’m a dreamer. It’s not a bad thing, except for that whole “loser” component that so often accompanies dreaming. Don’t get me wrong – I have a great job, and we don’t live in a van down by the river or anything. But I’m often up late at night just thinking stuff up. Most of it is rubbish, but every once in a while I come up with something that could be helpful.

Take a look at the pic above. I just got an idea while eating breakfast this morning and spent a few minutes sketching out what it might look like.

I got this idea because of my current job. I’m a claims adjuster. About 95% of what I handle are smaller water damage claims – pipe burst, water heater leak, toilet overflow. Generally losses that will cost less than $10k to repair.

What I hear every day is, “who can help me with these repairs?” If there is a covered loss that exceeds deductible, I can assign one of our approved vendors. If there’s no coverage, or the loss doesn’t exceed deductible (which is typically 1% or more in Texas!), that means your insurance company can’t help – but your house still needs to be fixed, right? What can you do then?

I can’t recommend anyone at that point. You have to find your own people and pay out of pocket, which kinda sucks. But what if there was a referal network that anyone could access – not just for home repairs, but for just about anything you could imagine? What if there was a network that existed simply to get people in touch with people who are willing to help?

I’m not talking for free, but maybe at a reduced cost, depending on what a person can or is willing to pay, compared to what a person is willing to do or provide.

Maybe this isn’t even all that original. Maybe I’m just dreaming. But maybe people who can help and who are willing to do so – sacrificially – actually exist. Maybe there are people in this world who just want to help, but don’t know who or how.

Maybe there’s something to this. It doesn’t have to be my idea, and I know others are doing similar things, and this isn’t even all that well thought out yet.

One thing I do know about myself – I love people and I love helping and most days after work I just come home and sit here. And think. I’d rather be doing – doing energizes us, it frees us to do even more. It changes other people’s lives and it changes us. I gives significance to the ones giving and receiving.

Yes – we all have our own laundry to do and yards to mow and kids to raise. But you could mow an elderly man’s lawn for free in no time. You could change the oil in a single mom’s car at very little expense to yourself – in time or money.

I think it’s time to take responsibility for those around us – to start meeting the needs of the people we drive right past 30 times a week. More than anything, I think it has to do with gratitude for the blessings I have been given, and wanting to be a good steward of those thing. It doesn’t have to be this idea, but I do think it has to be me -  I want to help! How about you?

I love that kind of music – kind of a smooth jazz. Don’t let this be well known, but I also kinda like Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr., Michael Buble, and others. Not as much as I like Def Leppard, but sometimes you’re just in the mood.

I like this particular song by Dean Martin because it talks about getting kicked in the head. Which is funny to me for some reason.

“How lucky can one guy be? I kissed her and she kissed me. Like the fella once said, ‘Ain’t that a kick in the head?’”

Why would a kiss be compared to a kick in the head? Well, have you ever kissed someone? Remember your first kiss, or a kiss with that special someone? Yes, I just said that. It’s electric, it gets your heart racing, your mind goes numb, your body tenses up. Like if you were to get kicked in the head.

I only mention that because Cheryl busted her head real good last night. We had to go to the doctor because of it. She bent over real quick, right into the door frame, which has a huge dent in it now. I heard the sound, saw her legs get rubbery, saw her collapse. I mean, she hit it hard. She was almost completely out when I got to her. Nothing like a kick in the head – her eyes were glazed over, she was dazed, her heart was racing.

Have you ever hit your head like that? It’s a surreal experience. Out of body, metaphysical, electric. Spiritual.

Have you ever had an encounter like that with God? Have you ever had the Spirit come over you, out of the blue, and just flat out kick you in the head? Metaphorically speaking obviously. God doesn’t kick people in the head. But sometimes he kinda does. Right?

I’m thinking about myself – how hard headed I am, and the lengths God went to to not just redeem me, but to get my attention. Sometimes it’s a gentle voice, like a spring breeze. Mostly if he wants my attention it’s a bone jarring experience and we pick up the pieces together and move on.

I’m also thinking about Israel. How many times in the bible were they walking with God, turned their back on him, got overrun by the Philistines or whoever then remembered how things were before they went their own way?

We all do this. Unfortunately. It’s normal. We are so blessed, we praise God, we worship him, we get all caught up in our lives, we get to a point where our worship is just songs, our prayers are just words, and our power is our own. Then something happens and we run back to God.

That’s not the way it’s supposed to be – you know that right? We are supposed to walk with God daily, we are supposed to be empowered by the Spirit daily, we are supposed to always be in a mindset of worship and prayer – continually. That’s the trick right there.

I think we all deserve a good kick to the head from time to time – it sets us straight, it reminds us what’s real, it reminds us who paid the price for us. Ideally, it would just happen once, but then again we’re human and we all need a course correction from time to time.

If you’re one of those that recognizes immediately when something is wrong and immediately correct it, good on you. Me? I’ll probably continue to need a good swift kick every now and then.

Pray for me, and with me – God is working in my life right now! He’s shaking things up, making me see the reality around me. Cheryl’s head wound reminded me that God has a plan for me, he’s not done, I’m not used up, too old, too broken – not ever – God still has a plan. I just wish it was my head that got hit - it can take a lot more abuse that Cheryl’s.