Archive | February, 2012

Pesky Expectations!

28 Feb

Think back to the three best moments in your life. Think back to the three worst moments in your life. Remember them well, and realize that all six of those events occurred because of your perspective. While events may naturally be exciting and/or demoralizing, I am firmly convinced that the impact is because of what we thought would happen going into it.

Expectations have much to do with how we react to a situation. For example, objectively, someone could sit back and say LeBron James’s first year in Miami was a fantastic success. Forgetting the fact that Cleveland fell apart, showing his value, you have a team that was excellent all year, made it to the NBA Finals, and probably should have won, just as Dallas should have beaten Miami years earlier. Similarly, many a parent is frustrated when their adult daughter gets married to someone she loves.

In both cases, the disappointment is because we came in with pre-conceived notions. But this can work the other way also. My son took a test over a book that he read months ago and Kelly and I are confident he didn’t know anything about it. He did poorly, and we were frustrated. Then we looked at the facts and found that his taking the test finished his requirement for the year and he did well. We were elated, but only because we expected this test to kill his average.

It’s crazy how our thoughts of things beforehand can totally change how we feel about something. Last night there were primaries. We had people getting less than 20% of the vote in Arizona claiming success. Expectations colored their view of success.

Now why would anyone care enough to talk about this? Well recently, I have had things where people are curious why I am not ecstatic to which my only reply was I expected it. Similarly, I’ve had issues where people are wondering how I am remotely cheery, and again, my expectations led me to it.

I’ve heard it said that there are optimists, realists, and pessimists. I don’t know if those are the only three categories, but I do know that the mind is a powerful tool that can effect our emotions merely by believing something before it happens. So watch your thoughts as they become expectations. Of course that leads to the flip side of the same coin. Do not let your expectations drive you so much that you’re unpleasant to be around.

Now walking this edge may be something that you find simple, but I find the only time I can control my expectations are when I let them control me, and that isn’t good for anyone. So, as I struggle through controlling my expectations and still being moderately enjoyable to be around, I hope that I am able to do so. When I was young, I didn’t care, I was always hopeful. Now that I’ve grown, I hope that I am not so staunchly pessimistic as to be loathsome to be around!

Who are you When Life is Tougher Than You Thought?

26 Feb

It is just unavoidable in life where you will show up to something and just be taken completely by surprise. Hopefully it doesn’t happen often, but no matter how much you try to prepare yourself for some situations, the inevitable feeling of surprise will occasionally hit you. Now this has happened to me recently, and I have determined that the way you react to this unexpected situation tells a lot about who you are.

I ran into a situation several months ago, where a friend and I attended a meeting. The people we were meeting took one look at us and tried to leave. They wanted to retreat right away. To me, this is almost always unacceptable. You show up and don’t like what you see, it is cowardice to leave.

Another response is to fret and see if you can achieve what you originally intended. If the surprise took you off guard, your reaction is to do what you can to create the situation you were hoping for. If it is a competition, you attempt to achieve the hoped-for result on a technicality. If it is a meeting, you attempt to have certain factors disposed of. If it is a debate, you attempt to turn it back into a speech.

Finally, I feel the appropriate response, is to do the best you can and live with the results. Recently, I went somewhere with five young people, whom I am honored to call friends. They were totally surprised by something that happened when we arrived that totally altered what we came there to do. They did the best they could with the hand they were dealt, achieved more success than anyone thought they could and achieved a whole lot of respect in my eyes. We were all depressed that it ended up being something different than we thought it would be, but I was very proud of them.

Life is a series of surprising events, to one degree or another. When you face an adversity different than you thought, but you give everything you’ve got to make it work, that is incalculable greatness. And I hope that when I am backed up again, I can learn from my friends and perform as well as can be expected for my situation!

Women are just Better!

24 Feb

So the girls (Emily and Julia) were up all night sick. I watched nice little kid cartoons with them, which as we all know is pretty simple work. On the other hand, Kelly was a trooper, who cleaned everything up, got them the necessary equipment and food to feel better. This got me to thinking, “Why are men and children so helpless when they are sick or when someone else is sick?”

When men are sick they mope around as if the world is coming to an end. We are useless (more useless than we normally are) as we don’t help out or do anything else. We want someone else to take care of us, make us soup, hand us the TV remote, and adjust our blanket. We want someone to cater to our every whim.

In that regard, men just don’t mature. Children are similarly challenged when they are sick, and while it seems natural for the wee ones to be helpless, there is just something about the extra helplessness of being sick that just makes it seem like extra work. Making them bathe is extra work, as is getting them to do menial things like walk to the table. So, children are also seemingly worthless while sick.

While the rest of us become worthless to society while we are sick, the worst part is probably that we also refuse to help others who are sick. While I certainly feel sympathy for my children when they are less than 100%, the odds of my doing anything extra (and considering the light workload I pull in comparison to my wife, there is a lot of room for extra work) are seemingly zero. And while children may say, “I’m sorry mommy” or “I’m sorry daddy,” there is just no way that they are going to be helpful.

This is where I must take pause and just marvel at women. I first noticed this when growing up, as my mom would cater to my every whim, even if she were just as sick as I was. As I grew a little older and was allowed to stay home alone with just my cousin Bek and my sister Jenni, the two of them, who were much closer to being a woman than I was, would take care of things.

And finally, I marvel at my wife Kelly, who despite the fact that she’s probably as sick as any of us when it happens will take care of us, get us soup, and just make sure our lives are as comfortable as can be. I guess I’m just in awe that people can call women weaker, when it is clear that they can put up with a lot more and perform better.

God clearly knew what he was doing when he gave man a help-mate. The family unit seems to have this perfectly functioning situation, and despite women around the world wanting we men to help, I think they know that we just aren’t as good at it. While I wish I were better at performing with or around sickness, I couldn’t be happier that I have the perfect companion as a gift from God! Kelly is amazing!

Which type of person are you?

22 Feb

There are many different types of people in this world and to attempt to categorize them into a number small enough to fit on a blog is impossible, but I want to talk about a few differences I’ve noticed.

First, there is painfully early guy, on time guy, and late guy. Unfortunately, I camp out in the late category. I annoy many a person with the fact that I cannot seem to be on time with things. This is definitely something I want to work on, as I think it is a bad representation of both me and my training, and I know better. While I would like to be on time, I find the obscenely early guy even more annoying than the late guy. There people will meet you at your hotel at four am when your flight leaves at around eight. I don’t need to be running to the gate, but sitting at the gate three hours early irks me just as much.

The second way people can be grouped is by patience. Granted, some of a perspective on patience is driven by the time category, but all things being equal, there are people who are just too patient. They are “patient” to the extent that they allow people to walk all over them. This is not good and needs to be corrected, before they get trampled in this cold, hard world. On the other hand, the people with on patience are equally annoying. These people try to take your plate while you’re still eating or yell when things take one more minute than promised. They hit the elevator button multiple times. We’re all waiting on certain things in life, and thes people just don’t get it. To some degree, I think it is that they are too selfish to consider the plight of those around you. While I have traces of this in my life, I feel I have begun to conquer this demon with God’s help.

Third, people can be sorted based on their consideration of the person next to them. Some people try to take up extra space and not allow anyone to sit (or even park, I guess) next to them. While others will purposefully make themselves small to allow for the person next to him to stretch out. Sitting (or parking) next to the former is a pain, while the latter is a joy.

Now, I only bring these up because I am at the airport and on an airplane whilst putting this together, and while I have improvements to make in these areas, I have had to deal with people from all these extremes. And instead of complaining or comparing, I decided to write and see if anyone else had experienced any of these type of people and had a funny anecdote to share. Have fun!

Struggling, but Encouraged

20 Feb

When I was young, I, like all other little kids, didn’t need to be taught to do the wrong thing. It came naturally to me. I did many stupid things as a child, to which I am sure my mother, father, and sister would attest.

Something happened along the way, however, and I began to show vestiges of being a new creature. This is the person that is occasionally likable. And when I am so, it is the work of Christ in me that you notice. I am so blessed to have been able to be used by God for years, and I hope to consistently walk worthy of that calling.

While I’d love to be that guy all the time, occasionally, I still fall far short of what I desire and Christ would have for me to do. There have been moments where I think that I am in good company. However, while I can take solace in the fact that the Apostle Paul was likewise falling short, I don’t ever want that to be an excuse for me. I need to take ownership when I make a mistake.

So, while it is still this journey of life through which I am muddling, I guarantee that there will be days where I shake my head as I do something generally stupid. Hopefully, I will be challenged to fix it and then I will do the same thing as the apostle Paul. I will confess and conclude, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”

Now that you realize I am not perfect, I hope that you will treat me with gentleness and care when I make one of these bone-headed decisions. Recently this happened, and I had a couple friends who were so gracious to me in their exemplification of the Lord by correcting me with grace and truth, that I am all the more thankful for them.

So, as determined as I am to be perfect, I know that I will fail, but I am thankful that not only does God work through the things where it is easy to see him, but He sharpens me with the bad ones and gives me people who invest in my life, and that is something that I can always cherish!

Are you comfortable?

18 Feb

Comfort. We define it in different ways. We seek it in different elements. We may want it from our food. We definitely want it in our relationships. We seek to make it an element in making our house a home. We read about different ways to achieve it. We may even seek it from our clothes. But, ultimately, what is it?

Is comfort something that we should attempt to achieve? Is comfort a beneficial thing by any means? Does comfort lead to anything? Is comfort an acceptable end, no matter the means?

On a personal note, comfort is what I’ve spent the last few years attempting to attain. Aside from the occassional frustrating day or two, comfort is something I’ve treated like a desirable conclusion. As I strive ever the more to live a life of comfort, I sit on the edge of proverbial seat of life hoping that nothing upsets the delicate balance so that I might fall out of the seat in an uncomfortable way.

Here I stand. As I look through the human history of which I am aware, noone ever accomplished something great by maintaining comfort. Comfort never led to anything other than complacency. I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes, A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships were built for. And while I am forever wanting to improve, occassionally, I need a messenger to give me a nudge in the right direction.

In my life, God has blessed me with many good friends, and recently one of them gave me such a nudge. I had become very comfortable in my life, and I need to strive for improvement, despite my belief that contentment is important. While I fear the pain that change may bring, I fear more the pain of not being obedient or worthy of my call.

So, if you know me, and you see me striving harder on something that you thought I had let become something that I just did not strive for hard enough previously, it probably means a friend has given me a nudge. As one who is thankful for these nudges, maybe if you see me failing in a given area, you, too, will give me a gentle nudge.

After all maybe the thing you need to get better at is giving the gentle nudges to people who miss part of the picture like me, and I am now giving you the gentle nudge to do so. And while comfort is not always easiest in the wake of a storm, I find that my faith and belief in God are most strengthened by these times of growth!

So, I guess I will conclude that I hope to no longer be comfortable!:)

Life Doesn’t Turn Out the Way We Plan

16 Feb

Growing up, I always thought that I was a terrible writer. I think much of our esteem as children is based purely on comparative means. I grew up with one sister and I always felt that I was not as good of a writer as she was. This was confirmed by teachers comments about our writing. Of course, this could be because Jenni is quite possibly the best writer on the planet.

There was a time when I began to think I might be decent. I won a writing contest in 4th grade. I began to develop a little pride, when my father and Stuart informed me that noone else entered and that much of my writing was crazy. I specifically remember a sentence I wrote that said, “The Master’s Academy is far and away the best school I’ve ever been to.” Obviously, as a ten year old, that isn’t saying a whole lot.

Then when I graduated from graduate school, I got a job as the Curriculum Coordinator of Belhaven College. Then, I left there and became a writing consultant on several books for Kambuck Resources. And it hit me last night, as I was writing a review of a movie that three people will read, I actually kind of like writing.

Before you get bored with my writing of how I’m not a good writer, I guess it might be important to assert that many things are different than I thought. For example, after my senior year of high school, I never thought I would see a Bible Quiz again. And now, I travel the countryside doing events, while also assisting in local leagues.

I could list many other things, as several things are different than I thought they would be. This is something about which I am frequently in awe. As well as I think I know myself, it seems as if my prayers and pleas are frequently over-ridden and improved by God. Therefore, I find myself often thanking God for these “unanswered prayers”!