Image provided by gowindstar.com
Well, my annual trip to the Fair for 11 days has ended and it is time to refocus on my work. It is always wonderful to have a time to focus on something completely different and my time at the Fair allows me to do just that. As a volunteer, I can give of myself and benefit the Fair for others. Since I work in a merchandise trailer, it takes me back to the days of my retail work and is a completely different set of circumstances than the work I do throughout the rest of the year. The time away also provides for me to have a new outlook on the work that I do in my employed position. So I see that three areas of my life experience value when I am at the Fair; the State Fair and its patrons, the job which I do on a daily basis when the Fair is not taking place, and my own spirit.
Now, it is time to get back to my duties as a leader and the daily responsibilities. I find that I have new energy. I know that I have a new perspective. I think I also have some adjusted priorities. Getting back into routines also provides a sense of normalcy which can be comforting in a strange way. I have already begun to do some catch up which always is necessary after being gone for a period of time. By the end of the day, I will have a much clearer perspective of the tasks which I need to accomplish in the days ahead. But even those tasks will occur in a little different manner because of my ability to take a fresher look at each of them.
So my blog is back and I hope that you read it regularly and share it with others. Let me know if you have any topics you would like me to explore here.
It has been a combination of whirlwind weeks over the last couple of weeks. I have had some travel, some retreat time, and now am preparing for a couple of weeks of vacation time. There have been some unexpected events in my personal life over the last couple of weeks which always adds a little chaos. However, I have survived the craziness and busyness and now will be preparing for some time of relaxation at one of my favorite locations.
So how do you survive the whirlwinds of your life? I have found that a helpful survival tool is to take each day as it comes. If I allow my self to get caught up in all the craziness and start stressing over what may lie ahead, I can easily lose track of where I am and what I need to accomplish. While I always keep an eye on what is coming my way, I become very methodical about how approach the day and strive to live in the day. Once I complete whatever tasks or commitments I have in a specific day, then I can look a little ahead and see if there are pieces that I can accomplish which will make me better prepared for the next day or two. But above all, I live in the day.
I would be interested in hearing from my readers regarding how they manage the whirlwinds in their lives.
Since I will be on vacation until August 17, I am not sure how much posting I may or may not do. So be sure to check back and I promise to return to regular posts after the 17th.
Passenger planes being shot down by missiles. Peace shattered in Israel and Palestine. Mass shootings in various parts of the country. Ongoing battles in Iraq and Afghanistan. Everywhere you turn there seems to be violence, hatred, and death. These realities in the world can be overwhelming. As a person looks at all of this, it is easy to come to the conclusion that God is not here. It would not be the first time in our history that people came to such a conclusion; remember the “God is Dead” statements from a few decades ago? But this conclusion could not be farther from the truth.
This last Sunday we heard about a man named Jacob who was fleeing for his life. He felt all alone and had no sense of where to go or what future might exist. He laid down his head to attempt to get some rest before he continued his flight journey. During the night he had a vision which appeared to open to the very throne room of God. God spoke to Jacob and affirmed promises of home and future to Jacob. God also made a promise that I think we need to hear today, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:15, NIV) God was still with Jacob even during scary and dangerous times. God is still here now.
As a believer, I need to continue to pray about the situations in the world that are scary and dangerous. I need to continue to pray for those impacted by the events of violence, hatred, and injustice. I need to question why these events continue to occur and seek ways to prevent them. However, I must never lose sight of the promise that God gave Jacob and gives to all of us today; God’s unending presence with us. Whether it be on a global scale or the raging battles in my life, God has not abandoned us.
GOD IS STILL HERE!
This morning, this song just keeps playing in my head so I thought I would share it.
I want my life to be flowing water and not a stagnant pond!
Let me give a little background into that statement. One of the realities of life is that change is going to occur. In a conversation that I was having today, we both acknowledged this reality. I think there is always a part of each of us that hopes that things do not change. This is most often true when there are a lot of positives occurring in our lives. Just as much as there is a part of us that wishes to avoid change, there is an equal part that hopes for change. This hope arises most frequently when there are a lot of negatives taking place. However, we often have limited impact on change other than our ability to respond to, and at times, guide change. We cannot stop change.
As I reflected on change this morning, the image of water came to my mind. If you stand by a flowing creek or river, you realize that there is constant motion, constant change. This movement provides opportunity for life and can be very refreshing on hot day. Through the flowing water, we can capture some energy. We see forward progress of everything caught up in its flow.
Another scene with water is one that takes place at a pond which is neither spring feed or receiving the flow of a stream. When you stand alongside one of these bodies of water, you often detect an unpleasant odor. Many times there are all forms of algae or other plant life covering the top of the water. This pond is stagnant. There is no movement and often no lasting life. The reason is there is no change occurring with the water.
So if I carry the water image into my thoughts about life, I would prefer that my life be flowing water and not a stagnant pond.
Image provided by someinterestingfacts.net
Crediting either Longfellow and/or Ella Fitzgerald and the Ink Spots, the familiar phrase, “Into every life a little rain must fall,” comes to my mind this morning. We are having another small thunderstorm moving through our area. It seems to be that we are currently in a weather pattern which includes a thunderstorm at least once a week. I would have to say that it is much better than the weather pattern we have seen over the last few years during the summer when we saw little to no rain of any kind fall on our land. However, I know that for some people, this cycle of rain has become annoying.
As I thought about the recent rains and the phrase that I mentioned at the start of this post, I was thinking about the benefits of the rainfall. All of creation needs those drinks of rain for survival. During periods of drought, we clearly see what happens to trees, plants, animals, and humans when the rain does not come. Our world seems to dry up and wither around us. Everything takes on a brown cast. People’s attitudes tend to become negative and they become cranky. Rain on a regular basis can create a lushness in the world, settle the dust, and bring about an attitude of freshness and renewal.
Now, I realize some of you may be thinking that too much of even a good thing can be too much. We know of areas that are experiencing flooding because of all the rain. However, I would like to throw out the idea that even the flooding brings benefits. I am sure that if your property is damaged or you incur some financial lost due to flooding, you are not eager to agree with me. But flooding can provide opportunity to begin again, to start anew from the foundation up. Going through that experience can be difficult but the end result may be wonderfully beneficial.
I think that these ideas can apply not only to our physical reality but also to our lives in general. Everyone experiences sadness, difficult times, strains in relationships, and other challenges. We could look at these experiences as being the metaphorical rain that falls in our lives. As the quote mentions, “into every life a little rain must fall.” I think the key word in this situation is must. Just as our physical world must have rainfall for the benefits listed above, such is true in our lives as well. The benefits of renewal, settling of life’s dust and a fresh attitude can result from the rain in our lives. Even when we are overwhelmed with this rain, we may be given the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and begin again.
So explore the benefits of rain in your life!
Image provided by rappingmanual.com
In our lives, we engage in a variety of conversations and receive information from many different sources. The period of time in which we live is characterized with endless threads of information from television, internet, talk shows, speakers, and printed materials. If you are able to manage your way through the rivers of information, you can easily become skeptical because often the information conflicts. These conflicts arise when a person hears from different sources on the same subject. It is very easy to become skeptical and dismiss almost all information that you receive unless you have first-hand involvement in the events or situation.
For me, this raises the importance of doing my own research and study. I believe that we were created with a very inquisitive mind for a reason. Humans were given intelligence in order that a person learns, discovers, and comes to observations by making an effort to gather information from various sources. Unfortunately, too many people do not desire to spend the time looking into matters and weighing the source of the information. Too many hear something on the radio, read something in an article, or hear someone speak and accept it as accurate and reliable information. There are many cases when this is true and totally acceptable. However, history shows us that there are unfortunately many times when people have been deceived, the information has been inaccurate, and individuals and/or the world have suffered.
So all of this leads me to put out a warning. Keep listening and reading but do so with some level of caution. Take the information that you are receiving and do some research on your own so that you know if you accept something as truth it is because you have gathered input from a variety of sources and come to the conclusion on your own. For me, this applies to everything from politics to world events to religion. Spend the time to verify that what you are hearing and receiving is accurate before passing the information along. Also, be prepared to be corrected or revise your opinions based upon new information which may be obtained. No one knows it all and everyone is able to make mistakes.