Google+ Followers

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

One Righteous Goal for 2016







 A fourth-grade teacher made it a practice to compliment each of her students as they left school each day. On one particular day, Billy was incredibly challenging and disruptive. By the time school ended, he was hyper and she was frazzled. As the pupils filed out of the room, she smiled at each one. "Susie, you really rocked that spelling test." "Johnny, great job on your report." "Bobby, you were very helpful today."

Next in line - Billy. Oh no, she thought to herself. He has been a royal pain all day. How can I  compliment him without lying? Approaching the classroom door, he locked eyes with the teacher. She finally found her tongue and said, "Billy, you're wearing a very nice shirt." He smiled and left. The relieved teacher returned to her desk. Mission accomplished.

Have you noticed how much easier it is to find something wrong with a person than it is to find something right? Pit criticism against compliments and criticism usually wins. Why? I think it's because we're naturally hard-wired to be more negative than positive, whether it's what we say or what we hear.

An article in Psychology Today states that there are more negative emotional words (62%) than positive words (32 %) in the English dictionary. According to Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Waldman, authors of Words Can Change Your Brain, a single negative word can increase the activity in our amygdala--the fear center of the brain. Negative words release dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters, which in turn interrupts our ability to reason logically. (see Therese Borchard's blog in World of Psychology.)

Some people are so used to hearing the negative that they don't know what to do when they hear something positive. Case in point--airport employees. A few days ago, my husband and I were waiting at the Atlanta airport during the ice/snowstorms that hit the Midwest and Northeast. Flight after flight was either delayed or canceled--including ours. I watched the attendants as they studied the computer monitors and every 20 minutes or so announced another delay. Disgruntled passengers made their way to the counter, and the attendants braced themselves for verbal attacks. I was curious to see how the employees would respond. It seemed like an invisible shield covered them. Their faces looked engaged but their ears were closed. They knew what was coming and they knew how to deflect.

When our flight was finally announced, we stood in line as the attendants robotically scanned boarding passes, almost oblivious to the passengers. As I approached the scanner, I leaned toward the attendants and said, "Thanks for serving us so well. Have a wonderful new year." They both looked at me like they had never received a compliment.

That one incident has stirred something inside of me. I am committing to make one simple change in 2016. I want to be more intentional about letting my words have a positive impact within my sphere of influence. I want to compliment more than I criticize. I want to point out the positive before I notice the negative. King Solomon actually compared our words to nourishment --"The lips of the righteous nourish many" (Proverbs 10:21). Maybe I can't change the world, but I can influence the lives of those around me with enriching words. 

It's a pretty righteous goal, don't you think? Anyone care to join me?



Monday, November 30, 2015

Wait A Minute!










 


Looking for a new devotional book for the new year? Wait A Minute - 30 Devotionals Inspired by Life's Breath-Catching Moments is now available at Amazon. Great idea for Christmas. Hope you enjoy this sample chapter:

Stuck at the Bottom of a Box

"For this is what the Lord says . . .without money you will be redeemed.
 Isaiah 52:3

"Better to sell it for a quarter than keep it for nothing." This was the motto purported by the coordinator of our church rummage sale. So, when I found a small saucer hidden at the bottom of a box of donated items, I ignored its appearance and dutifully stuck it with a twenty-five cent label. The plate soon found itself on a folding table holding numerous other cheap things.

Fortunately, another worker with a keener eye than mine saw possible value in the plate. She took it to an antique dealer who gasped when she saw the beautiful flower painted in the center of the dish. “Why this is an original Majolica!” she exclaimed, ripping off the twenty-five cent sticker. “This plate is worth at least $35!” And she bought it. How unfortunate that such a beautiful, valuable plate would end up relegated to the bottom of a box of devalued stuff.

The Lord reminded me of another time when I failed to recognize true value. Only this time it involved a person, not a plate. A woman attended our church for a short time. Her outward appearance was not attractive and her hygiene was—well—in need of serious attention. Her hair was stringy and her clothes ill-fitting. A couple of times I gave her a ride home and, even though it was wintertime, I kept my window down to avoid the unpleasant odor coming from the passenger’s side. The day she told us she was moving and would have to find a closer church, I secretly rejoiced—much to my shame.

Several months later, she called to tell me a woman at her new church was taking her for a complete make-over, including new clothes and a fresh hairstyle. “Wow,” I said, suppressing a little tinge of guilt. “That’s wonderful. What’s the occasion?”

“No special occasion,” she responded. “The woman said she saw value in me and wanted to help me look good.”

Obviously, I had a serious flaw in my vision. I couldn’t recognize beauty when it stared me in the face, and I couldn’t see potential when it sat next to me in my car! Thank God He can spot both beauty and potential, whether He’s looking at an individual—or an entire nation, like Israel.

No matter how rebellious the Israelites were, God never lost hope in them. He always recognized their true value and often spoke through the prophets to underscore that truth. In their original form, the Israelites were God's chosen people, highly favored and set apart from all others. However, they compromised their covenant with the Lord and, after resisting numerous opportunities to repent, ended up in Babylonian captivity for seventy years.

In the midst of their bondage, God looked at the bottom of the box and saw more than a discarded nation. Despite the Israelites’ defects, the Lord acknowledged their true worth and tagged them with a promise to redeem them without money (a prophetic word about Jesus who paid the ultimate price by giving His own life). They didn’t deserve it, but God couldn’t help Himself. He’s drawn to devalued throw-aways because He knows the original value.

Sometimes we may feel like we’re stuck at the bottom of a box—forgotten and worthless. How did we get there? Whether someone else did it to us, or whether we did it to ourselves, it’s not too late to be rescued. The Master is dying to retrieve us and restore our natural beauty. If we let Him, He’ll remove the old labels and mark us as His originals. We may not deserve it, but He just can’t help Himself.

Are you ready to get out of the box?


PRAYER

Lord, thank you for seeing enough value in my life to redeem me with yours. I give you permission to pull me from the bottom of the box so I can fulfill your purpose for my life. Help me treat others with the same kindness you have shown me so I can help them fulfill their purpose as well.  

______
Copyright 2015, Mary K. Selzer





























Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Valid Case Against Marijuana

This topic may be controversial, but I just have to speak out. First, let me offer congratulations to the voters of Ohio who last week rejected a proposal to legalize recreational use of marijuana. I couldn't be prouder of our neighboring state.

The subject of drugs seems to have recently become front and center as a topic of news and discussions. Not too long ago I met a retired judge, and in the course of our conversation he asked what I thought about legalizing marijuana for recreational use. I vigorously shook my head. “An absolutely bad idea,” I said. "Why?" he asked.

I told him about the 20 years I spent as a staff member at Teen Challenge, a residential-care program for people with life-controlling problems--mostly alcoholics and drug addicts. Our staff heard countless stories from students who admitted that their journey to hard drugs all too often began with the seemingly "innocent" marijuana.They told us that very few people only smoke marijuana. A majority of marijuana users also pop pills, drink booze, shoot heroin or snort cocaine.
One woman, who had been addicted to heroin for 15 years, described her first encounter with marijuana: "When I smoked my first marijuana cigarette, I felt like someone had undressed me inside. I didn't care what I did or who I did it with. It wasn't long before I was using harder drugs." 
Someone else said, "When I was smoking marijuana, I became so mellow--almost care-free. Now that I'm completely off drugs, I'm at the top of my game. I have a lot of energy and drive, and I have the work responsibilities to go with it. If I were still smoking pot, I'd be so laid back that I wouldn't care about anything. I wouldn't even be able to keep my job."
Another long-time drug addict was asked what he considered the most dangerous drug. "Marijuana," he responded without hesitation. "The problem is that people just don't want to admit that it is definitely a gateway drug."
  
If the very individuals who enter a rehabilitation program in order to free themselves of their addiction declare that marijuana is a gateway drug, who am I to argue?

Even the National Institute of Drug Abuse cautions that marijuana use causes . . . 
  • altered senses (for example, seeing brighter colors)
  • altered sense of time
  • changes in mood
  • impaired body movement
  • difficulty with thinking and problem-solving
  • impaired memory
When I shared this information with my judge friend, he called it all a "theory." "Look at it from a business point of view," he argued. "One man in Denver said the first day marijuana was legalized, he profited over $35,000. That’s pretty impressive. I think legalizing marijuana is a good business proposition, even if it is for recreational use."

I bit my tongue because of the irony in his comment. This same judge had told me earlier that he had  sentenced drug addicts to the Teen Challenge program in lieu of jail time. A high percentage of those individuals began their tumultuous lifestyles using the very drug he wants to see legalized because of the savvy business benefit.

His Honor isn't the only person who wants to make a little profit. Actor / musician Nick Lachey, Ohio native, saw a great business opportunity for himself and a handful of other marijuana moguls if Ohio voted yes to pot. For weeks prior to the election, Nick appeared on television ads encouraging Ohioans to approve recreational use of marijuana because it would benefit the state. In reality, it would have actually benefited Nick and his cronies. If Ohio had said "yes," Nick & Co. would have a monopoly on the profits realized from the sale of marijuana.

With every financial profit, there is a cost. Someone pays so someone else can profit. What is happening in our nation that so many people view opportunities through the lens of money without considering the cost to those who are making them rich? It's a heavy price to pay, don't you think?   

Thanks, Ohio. Your message came through loud and clear. Hopefully other states will follow your lead before our entire country goes to pot.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Don't Neglect Your Mess

 http://blogs.thepoconos.com/i-like-pike/files/2012/05/messy-desk-2-490x348.jpgNot far from our home is a dentist office that advertises the latest in dental technology. The building is beautiful and modern. The fancy sign on the roof includes the time and temperature, as if to say, "We set trends in the dental world." Driving by the office gives a person the impression that if you were in the market for a new dentist, you'd be crazy not to go there. Walking by, however, is another story.

The building has two large front windows minus blinds or shades. One window gives a person a view of the waiting room. From the outside it looks neat and welcoming with neatly-arranged magazines and comfortable chairs. The other window gives a clear view of the administrator's office. I don't know how else to say this except that it's an absolutely disastrous mess. Sloppy files are piled along the window. Papers are stacked on the counter, the desk and the floor. It looks like someone tossed their unfinished work into a room and shut the door, forgetting the mess they left behind. Out of sight, out of mind. What they fail to realize is that there's a large uncovered window through which the rest of the world can view the mess.

One day when I was out for my morning walk, the administrator pulled into the parking lot at the side of the building where the entrance is. Since the windows are situated at the front of the building, she doesn't see what the office looks like to people on the outside. I'll wager the dentist isn't aware of it either. A quick walk around the building would show them that what they think is safely hidden inside is in full view of everyone else.

I almost said something to the administrator about the outside-to-inside view, but I just quickened my pace and finished my walk. "It's their problem," I thought to myself. Now that I think about it, I might have done them a tremendous favor by pointing out the inconsistency. 

I hope people will tell me if they see something "messy" in me that I don't see. Sometimes I'm like the administrator who parks in one spot and sees things only from one view, when a quick 360 walk-around of my life would make me aware of things that need to be changed and fixed.

So, before I point out all of the flaws at the dental office, maybe I should step back and look through  my own windows to see what things I've neglected by carelessly throwing them into a room, locking the door and hoping no one else will notice.

Sigh . . . Another thing on my emotional to-do list. But I always feel better when I straighten out a mess. It'll be worth it.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Case for Abstinence

It takes a lot to get my ire up, but this guy came very close. Around three years ago, he introduced me to his pregnant girlfriend. "This is my baby mama," he bragged. "Baby's due in six months." I smiled at the young girl who shyly smiled back.

A few months later he informed me, "Hey--I have a six-month-old baby." I was a stunned. "Did your girlfriend have her baby already?" I asked, wondering if maybe she was more than three months pregnant when I met her.

"Oh, no," he said. "That baby mama not due until June. My six-month-old baby was one I didn't know I had until last week." Before I could stop myself, I responded, "You know, when God said to populate the earth, I think He meant to get married first."

A couple of months ago I ran into the same guy. Puffing out his chest he said, "Hey! Guess how many kids I have now. Five! And the oldest one is two." I silently tried to digest this mathematical conundrum. "What do you mean? How can you have five children ages two and under?"

"Three baby mamas. Three baby mamas and five babies," he boasted like he was waiting for me to give him an Emmy or an Oscar or whatever award would be given to reward such behavior. I blurted out, "Look . . . You gotta close this thing up. That's too many babies with too many women."  I know. It was a bit blunt, but someone had to say it. Once he realized I wasn't going to sing accolades about his exploits, he turned and walked away. I haven't seen him since.

When does it stop? I'm not just talking about this young guy who thinks making babies is his life's mission. I'm talking about the loss of morality that is culminating in unfathomable decisions with often serious consequences.

Did you know that 78% of abortions in the United States are performed on unmarried women? (see www.abortionfacts.com) Freedom of choice? Couples make their choice when they decide to sleep together without fully considering the end results.

While the family unit disintegrates and the percentage of single-mother pregnancies soars, the so-called experts beat around the bush by offering ineffective solutions such as "shotgun weddings" (where you immediately marry the girl you get pregnant), readily-available contraceptives, or government-funded abortions.

One contributor posted on the Dads' Rights Newsgroup blog site, "Since the decision to have the child is solely up to the mother, I don't see how both parents have responsibility to that child."
Whatever happened to taking responsibility for one's actions?

The wedding night used to be sacred. Now it seems there is no such thing because the anticipated "wedding night activity" occurs long before the marriage takes place. Even King Solomon knew the importance of waiting when he said three different times, "Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires."

At the risk of sounding outdated, why not take the safest, sanest route--wait until marriage to have sex. Good Ol' Fashioned Abstinence. What if parents educated their kids about moral values instead of wimpy reasoning like, "Well, they're gonna have sex anyway, so they might as well have it here at home instead of in the back seat of a car"? What if teens grew a spine instead of surrendering to peer pressure by compromising, "Everyone is doing it. I want to be accepted"? What if  self control was once again respected instead of rejected?

So, here's my old-fashioned advice: Guys, respect your woman by showing enough self-control to insist that you both wait until after marriage to express your love in a physical manner. Gals, don't you dare lower your standards by letting any guy anywhere call you his "baby mama" until he makes you his wife first. It's the proper and healthy order of things.

I hope someone out there agrees with me.  Can I get an Amen?











Friday, September 4, 2015

Learning contentment from a 7-year-old

This past week my husband and I attended a birthday party for the seven-year-old son of some friends. We tucked seven crisp one-dollar bills in a Superman card and, when the birthday boy met us on the driveway of his home, I handed him the card. He glanced at it briefly and said sweetly, "No thank you."

"Honey, this is your birthday gift," I urged, surprised at his response. "It has money in it. Don't you want it?"

"No thank you," he repeated.

We were a little taken back. What normal kid doesn't want a gift--especially money? Meanwhile, his young friends surrounded us, clamoring, "I want it! I'll take the money!" I held the card high in the air so his "normal" friends couldn't extricate it from my hands. Then I headed toward the birthday boy's parents and gave them the gift, commenting on their son's refusal to accept it. The mother explained that he's always been like that, wondering why people give him gifts if he hasn't asked for anything. He's simply content and creative with what he has.

Personally, I find the young boy's attitude extremely refreshing. Think of how many times you've attended children's parties and, while the guest of honor is opening his/her gifts, other kids are crying, "What about me? Where's my gift?" Where do kids learn this stuff?

I was in a store check-out line while the cashier and the customer in front of me lamented how unfair it was that some famous person had received an enormous inheritance. "He's so greedy," the cashier complained. "The least he could do is share his wealth with other people."

"I know," opined the customer. "It's not fair that some people have so much and others have so little." He grabbed his bags and walked off. I stepped up in line, smiled at the cashier and said, "So, if you receive a large inheritance will you share it with me? It just wouldn't be fair if you kept it all yourself."  If looks could kill . . .

Isn't human nature funny. When we don't have much, we despise those who do. (I think that's called envy.)  But when we DO enjoy abundance, greed can cause us to keep it all to ourselves. (I think that's called jealousy.) Where do we learn this stuff?


I know a seven-year-old kid who could teach us a thing or two about contentment. He obviously learned it somewhere. Hats off to his parents.





Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Closing the Relationship Gap

The "six degrees of separation" theory -- the idea that everyone in the world is separated from everyone else by only six links -- has been around since the early 1960's. A few years ago ABC's Primetime reported on an experiment conducted by Columbia University professor Duncan Watts to see who could connect themselves to a random third individual the fastest.

Each participant, or "searcher," was assigned a random "target," one of 18 people around the world. Their job was to link to this person via e-mail by creating a human chain. First, the participants e-mailed someone they knew. Then they asked that person to continue the links by e-mailing someone else they knew. The hope was to eventually send an e-mail to someone who knew the "target" personally, completing the chain. 

Around 60,000 people from 170 countries took part in the experiment. Of the hundreds of chains that were completed, they discovered that the average number of links was six, supporting the six degrees of separation theory. (To read the full report, visit abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=2717038.)

Funny. I've always thought the separation between people was greater than six degrees. Maybe I learned it from living in a less-than-friendly Detroit suburb. When we moved here twelve years ago, I was eager to meet our neighbors, build relationships and just enjoy new friends. Shortly after moving in, my husband saw the elderly woman who lives next door and told her how eager I was to meet her. Her chilly response was, "Well, winter's coming soon. Tell your wife I'll meet her next spring." After all these years, I still haven't had a conversation with the woman.

I experienced the exact opposite a few weeks ago on a visit with our daughter and son-in-law, who live in Edgewood, New Mexico, a small town east of Albuquerque. While our next-door neighbor in Michigan is separated from us by a mere stone's throw, my daughter's next-door neighbor lives on the other side of their five-acre ranch. We walked the equivalent of a couple of city blocks to get to the nearest house.

The neighbors were thrilled for our company. They warmly invited us in, offered something to drink and spent a couple of hours just chewing the fat. Two other neighbors gave us freshly-laid eggs from their chickens and offered their horses and mules for us to ride. One of them said they were going to visit Michigan soon and asked if we could meet them for dinner. Another neighbor paid our way and served as our personal tour guide at a local wildlife rescue zoo.

In the five days I spent in New Mexico, I learned more about my kids' neighbors than I know about my own neighbors after living here for more than a decade. Our kids have lived in Edgewood for only five months. My son-in-law has already added all of his distant neighbors to the contact list on his phone. I have a few neighbors' names and numbers jotted down on pieces of paper sloppily tacked to a bulletin board in my laundry room. My son-in-law gets calls like, "Do you have a minute to come and help me bury a dead rattlesnake?" (He was out the door in a flash, by the way.) I observe from the window of our kitchen as an ambulance pulls up and whisks the neighbor whose name I don't know to the hospital.

Edgewood might be a small town, but they're big on time, genuine concern for each other and availability to develop relationships. If there are degrees of separation in our relationships, we have created them ourselves.

Maybe I'll try burying a dead rattlesnake in the yard, right on the property line. It may not build a relationship with my elderly neighbor, but it certainly would get her attention. That's a good way to start, don't you think?














Friday, July 17, 2015

Talk like a woman. Think like a man

 The other day my husband and I had a little disagreement. Nothing major. It was just enough to annoy me into verbalizing more than I should have. After a few minutes, I could tell my husband had lost interest in our discussion. He picked up the remote, turned on the TV and relaxed on the couch. I was very tempted to say, "Excuse me, but I'm not finished with our conversation." But that would have been futile. Obviously, he was finished.

I sat on the far side of our curvy couch and fought the temptation to talk over the TV. Then I stole a look at him. He had moved on from our little discussion and was totally engrossed in the TV program. "How does he do that?" I asked myself. I was fighting the urge to argue. He had no urge to fight. My blood pressure was rising. He was stable and calm.

Finally, the cool hand of reason brought me to my senses: Why make a big deal out of something that doesn't need to be dealt with? You talked like a woman. Now think like a man!

It has been said that a woman's brain is like spaghetti--her thoughts, feelings and emotions are all intertwined and difficult to separate. Everything is scrambled with no easy exit. A man's brain, on the other hand, is like a waffle. His thoughts are separated into neat little compartments and he can easily move from one to another with no overlap. Men can turn on and off as quickly as they can jump from one little box to another without looking back. They don't need an exit. They just escape to the next compartment. Men have a definite advantage. It's almost not fair.

The night of our disagreement, I decided to intentionally try to think like a man. Imagine turning spaghetti into a waffle. Messy! Plus, the flavor and texture are worlds apart. I suppose if everything is mixed, mashed and remolded, the compartmental concept can be created. I shoved the disagreement into a little mental box and forced myself to jump to a new topic of conversation. My husband never missed a beat. We engaged in pleasant banter for a while and shortly after, I headed for bed amazed at how easy it was to think manly thoughts. We have not discussed the "off-limits" topic since. Apparently the waffle compartments also have extremely tight lids.

My fellow females, try it. You'll appreciate how good it feels to let things go. Although I have noticed an increased craving for spaghetti and I can't imagine why.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Insight from Blight

Around a year ago I drove by my old elementary school in Detroit's inner city. Back in the day, it was one of the best schools in the city. It's where I learned to read, write, add and spell. The teachers were stern but dedicated, and they helped shape and challenge my young mind.

Today the school is closed. Not only is it closed. The building is in horrible disrepair with broken windows, unkempt grounds and a naked flagpole signifying neglect and loss of interest.

A few months ago, my husband and I drove by my alma mater where I spent four years of my young adult life and received my degree. The school recently merged with another university and my old campus that at one time bustled with life now stood cold and vacant. It was pretty depressing, and I'm glad we didn't stop for a lingering look.

Both schools are situated along busy interstates. I didn't step foot on either campus, but viewed them from the safety of the car as we slowed our speed to get a better look. The elementary school is located in a bleak, unsafe, crime-ridden area of Detroit. The college stands by itself on a quiet, lonely corner. Ironically, life swirls at a fast pace around the two lifeless campuses.

I'm usually pretty good about handling change. In fact sometimes I like to implement change just for the sake of change itself. But when it meddles with my nostalgic memories, I tend to put up an emotional resistance.

I suppose I could sit by the schools and mourn over what once was and is no more. But, just because someone has permanently locked the doors and boarded the windows, nothing can stifle the investment of learning, counsel and guidance I received over the accumulated ten years I spent at those two institutions.The campuses may have died, but the experiences and knowledge I received will remain for the rest of my life.While nostalgia draws me back, reality keeps me grounded. I can live and thrive in my reality. I can't thrive in nostalgia.

Change is inevitable, whether we like it or not. However, we don't have to change with the change. We will witness transitions in our families, friendships, employment, municipalities, states, federal government and laws, many of them unraveling the moral fiber to which we cling. It can be unsettling, to say the least.

When everything around us is shaken, we can remain unshaken by not staring at the moral blight and nostalgia of what once was. Instead, let's focus on the truth of our convictions and create change from a reality of morality.

God knows the world needs it.













Monday, June 15, 2015

Change We Can't Live With

It seems that today's buzz words all begin with "trans." Bruce Jenner's "transgender" debut and Rachel Dolezal's "transracial" issue are just two more cars on the Trans Train. How long will this train become? And where is it headed?

Fighting to join the trans-entourage is a group called "transabled"--people who are perfectly normal but insist they are actually disabled.  Clive Baldwin, a professor at St. Thomas University, has studied transable for years and has identified 37 transabled individuals, including a man who insists his arm doesn't belong to his body. This poor guy is trying to figure out how he can cut off his own limb so he can be deemed disabled--because he "feels" disabled. (Check out Alex Griswold's article at dailycaller.com/2015/06/02/meet-the-transabled-able-bodied-people.)

We live in a nation where the moral fabric is quickly becoming unraveled. Add "trans" confusion to the mix and we're headed for a morally chaotic world with absolutely no absolutes. If you don't think our country is confused, just listen to newscasters try to explain Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner's identity. They still can't land on a definite pronoun--he or she? I guess it depends on how Bruce/Caitlyn is feeling for the moment.

Not wanting to miss out on the latest craze, I'd like to add my contributions to the trans vocabulary:


Transelfish - Those who put other people and their feelings ahead of their own

Transvictim -  People who consider themselves warriors, not wounded 

Transdiscontent - People who want to change from being discontent to becoming satisfied with who they are and how they've been created.

Transfeeling - Individuals who overlook how they "feel" for the moment and choose instead to live in reality.

May I be transparent? If our nation doesn't get a grip soon and put a caboose on this Trans Train, it's going to get completely out of control and our whole country will derail. The tragedy is that when it happens, we may not feel a thing.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

The ODDity of Personal Responsibility

http://nursemommylaughs.com/google-site-verification:%20googlea62865ad08b11bde.html/2012/02/Stealing_21-300x248.jpg

I was stunned as a mother explained her teenage son's rebellious behavior. "He has O.D.D." she said.  Thinking she had spoken in error, I said, "You mean O.C.D.--Obsessive Compulsive Disorder." 

"No," she countered. "He has O.D.D.--Oppositional Deviant Disorder."

Before I could catch myself, I blurted out, "Isn't that a fancy name for rebellion?" The mother pushed back and defended her son's deviant and sometimes abusive behavior. She continued, "I'm taking him to the doctor tomorrow so he can get some medication because I just can't control him." Behind her stood the boy's older sister who vigorously shook her head and said, "Mom, he's rebellious. He doesn't need medication. He needs discipline."

Okay. Now I'm going to tread where angels may fear to go and I'll ask a couple of questions that angels may fear to ask: When did we become a society filled with "disorders" that are actually the results of people's own behavior?What ever happened to taking personal responsibility instead of  medication? 

Please understand--I am not anti-medication. Some people legitimately need meds for their bodies, minds or emotions to function normally. Sometimes our systems are off-kilter and the only way back to normalcy is a doctor's prescription. My issue is when medication becomes the substitute for lack of personal responsibility or absence of discipline.

When my brother was eight, he stole a small toy from the store. The manager caught him and gave him a choice: "Either you tell your parents or I will tell your parents for you." Fortunately, my brother was innocent enough to run home and spill his guts to my mother. She was horrified. "No son of mine is going to steal, and I'll make sure you never steal again." And she did. After a sound spanking on his little tush, she marched him back to the store where he tearfully apologized to the manager and vowed never to do it again. (Today my brother says the spanking was a piece of cake compared to facing the manager with an apology.) What our mother accomplished in thirty minutes of discipline and learning has lasted a lifetime.

It's a shame that parental authority, child discipline and apologies have been replaced with excuses, medication and labels that stick for a lifetime. I just find that a little O.D.D.--don't you?










Saturday, May 16, 2015

What ever happened to trust?

Recently a friend invited me to visit her at work--the Chrysler Headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. I hadn't been to Chrysler since my brief employment following college graduation. Those were the pre-Auburn Hills days, when a person could walk into the main building, tell the front desk you were applying for a job, fill out the app, get tested and hired all in one day. I never once pulled out my ID to prove who I was. My word was good enough.

I must admit I was a bit overwhelmed at the new headquarters. First, I had to have an official invite from my friend. When I entered the building from the "Visitor Only" parking area in the garage, I had only one choice of direction--the "up" escalator that deposited me into a huge imposing lobby blocked by a security desk that ran the width of the room.


The security agent behind the front desk told me to enter my name on the computer in the kiosk to see if I was "in the system." Funny - I've always thought being "in the system" was a bad thing. But here, it was good.

Yes, indeed, there I was. In the system. I inwardly smiled when my name appeared on the screen. Then I saw a flash of light as the computer camera took my picture which would be sent to my friend who would verify that I was indeed the person she had invited. I just hoped she could recognize me by my forehead because that's pretty much what the camera captured. "Do you want a retake?" the security agent asked. "Nah," I replied. "I'm sure it's not going into the yearbook or anything embarrassing like that, is it?" No response.

She handed me a lanyard with a visitor badge that I had to wear at all times. It was my ticket into the secure part of the building. It was also my exit pass. For a brief moment I panicked--What if I inadvertently lose the lanyard? Do I remain the property of Chrysler forever? Then I remembered the picture of my forehead which was now probably a permanent part of the intellectual property of Chrysler. Surely they'd release me once they matched my face to that section of my head.

"Have a seat and wait for your host to come and escort you in," the security agent instructed. As I waited, I watched the comings and goings of other visitors. No one was allowed in without an escort who met them on the "secure" side of the desk. And everyone was escorted back to the security desk when their visit concluded. The security guard searched backpacks and briefcases of exiting visitors.

When my friend arrived, I couldn't enter until I scanned my visitor card. The computer recorded my entrance time. After our very pleasant visit and brief tour of the building, my friend escorted me back to the front lobby where a second security guard asked for my lanyard. If I was who I said I was, the security door would release me and record my time of departure. From that point, I only had one choice--take the "down" escalator back to the security of the visitor garage.

Several years ago entering and exiting the Chrysler Headquarters was a breeze. I worked in the legal department and we didn't even carry ID badges. Today we're scanned as we enter, searched as we exit, and then reposited to the parking garage. "Thanks for stopping by. Now leave." 

At what point did Chrysler have to implement such extreme security measures? Possibly when a trusted employee stole a confidential document or some intellectual property--or maybe when a visitor trespassed into a restricted area. Chrysler doesn't have anything to hide. But they do have a lot to protect--and understandably so. It's unfortunate that the misdeeds of a few people affect everyone else.

Sometimes we're tempted to make ourselves as secure as the Chrysler building. We block out anyone who tries to become close because years ago one person stole something--one person trespassed where they shouldn't. Granted, some people are unhealthy and dangerous and we should protect ourselves from them. However, not everyone should pay the price for the misdoings of one--or even a few.

Maybe we need to look past the bad photo of the forehead and see the bigger picture by looking people in the eye again. It's worth removing unnecessary barriers if trust can be restored.

Presbyterian minister Frank Crane said it best - “We're never so vulnerable than when we trust someone - but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.”











Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Total Lifestyle Workout

I reached an all-new low last night. I texted my husband.

What's wrong with that? you might ask. Well, I was sitting in the family room and he was reading a book in another room. I was too lazy . . . I mean it was more convenient to simply text from my comfortable position than to get up from the couch and talk to him face-to-face.Why look someone in the eye when you can stare at your phone. Right?

To make matters worse, we had just returned from a one-mile after-dinner walk so we could "get some fresh air and exercise" all in the name of better health. If I could walk a mile with someone, why couldn't I walk down the hall for a simple discussion with the same person? 

The same question could be asked of the athlete who takes pride in how physically fit he is, but he vies for the prime parking spot closest to the door in order to walk a shorter distance. What about the aerobics instructor who pushes her students to the point of exhaustion, but she can't push her shopping cart back to the cart corral.

Please understand. I'm not being critical. I'm just pointing out a huge inconsistency in our society. The inconsistency doesn't apply only to exercise. It affects life in general. We act and talk one way in one setting, but a completely different way in another. The teenage son of a church deacon nailed it when he told his Sunday School teacher, "You think my dad is a spiritual giant? You should see him at home. He's like two different people. He knows how to turn it on and turn it off. I wish he'd be a deacon at home. Then he'd be a lot easier to live with."

Think about this . . .
  • What if we talked as kindly to our family members as we do our customers?
  • What if we served those closest to us the same way we serve others when we're hoping for a hefty tip?
  • What if we listened at home as carefully as we do in our meetings at work?
  • What if we tried as hard to please our spouses as we do our bosses?
Isn't it funny how people-pleasing or a paycheck can make a difference how we treat people? It's almost like politeness and respect clock in at 9 and out at 5. Then we relax and become who we really are.

Someone said what we do defines who we are. I think who we are determines what we do. What would happen if politeness and respect became who we are and not simply what we do?

Here's my proposal: Let's never quit "working out." Let's determine to be consistent with who we are wherever we are. We can call it The Total Lifestyle Workout. We won't break a sweat and results will be realized immediately! I think it will help all of us shape up.



I'm going to start right now--just as soon as I put this grocery cart back where it belongs.

Friday, March 27, 2015

One Last Time

Earlier this week, 149 people boarded a Germanwings Airbus headed from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, Germany. None of them, including the pilot and flight crew, had any idea that it would be their final flight--their last trip anywhere. The co-pilot locked himself in the cockpit and intentionally steered the plane into the French Alps killing everyone on board, including himself. A horrific tragedy, yet one that leaves us with some sobering thoughts.

How many "last times" have you had in your life? How many more will you have?

Some "last times" celebrate victories, like--
  • The last diaper change because your son's finally potty trained.
  • The last cap and gown you purchase because all your kids graduated.
  • The last college exam because you earned your degree.


Other "last times" are a little emotional--
  • The last time your son sleeps in his bedroom down the hall because he's getting married tomorrow. 
  • The last time your father drives a car because you had to take his keys away.
  • The last time you kiss your mother goodbye.
Little did the families of the Germanwings passengers know when they dropped their loved ones off at the Barcelona airport that it would be the last time. And, the families waiting in Dusseldorf for their return didn't have a "last time" to welcome them home.

Wouldn't the world be a softer, kinder place if we lived every day as if it was our last? The Psalmist said, "Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). We're not guaranteed tomorrow, but here we are, alive today--one more day to walk in wisdom.
 
Whatever you do today, it may be the last time. Do what you can to make it last.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Taking the Bite Out of Rejection

Nobody wants to be rejected. It opens the door to discouragement, defeat and low self-esteem. Rejection can become the ultimate dream-killer for a person who hinges his success on someone else's nod of acceptance.

Did you know that Agatha Christie experienced five years worth of rejections before a manuscript was accepted. J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter series) was rejected twelve times; and Louis L'Amour heard "no" two hundred times before he heard "yes" from a publisher.

Rejection gives us three choices: (1) Give up. (2) Try again. (3) Improve. One publisher rejected the first 100 pages of Peter Benchley's book Jaws. Benchley started over from scratch and ended up selling 20 million copies! He chose door number three.

Recently I've become intrigued with the television show "Shark Tank" - where fledgling business people and entrepreneurs present their ideas/inventions before a panel of five "sharks" in hopes of luring them to make an investment for a percentage of their business. The risk of rejection is pretty high. Not only is the risk high--if the idea is rejected, it takes place before an audience of millions. As if that's not enough, the shows are taped and rerun for the enjoyment of those who lick their chops over rejection left-overs.

The sharks are "self-made million/billionaires" who are ready to pounce on what smells like a lucrative opportunity. The testimonials that are shown periodically certainly indicate that those who are fortunate enough to land a deal really do fare well, thanks to the financial backing, experience and influence of the Shark. However, each investee who enters the Tank takes the risk of being humiliated by public rejection.

Someone said, "Rejection is an imperative test of one's character." Do we give up quickly and skulk away, crushed by words of criticism? Or, do we build on those words and make necessary adjustments to become the best person we can. A mentor once told me there are two types of criticism: Deserved and Undeserved. She said when receiving deserved criticism, take it to heart and learn from it. "But," she continued, "If you receive undeserved criticism, don't reject it. Instead, search for the tiniest tidbit of truth and do what you can to improve."

Shark Tank admittedly exudes more entertainment than it does education. However, some valuable lessons about rejection have emerged from the Tank:

  • Cocky people don't get deals. The sharks can be as snarky as they want; but, if they sense cockiness from an investee, they back off. Like the young arrogant guy who told the sharks he expected them to work as many hours a day as he did. Or the woman who constantly pushed back as the sharks tried to give their input about her clothing design. Who wants to work with an arrogant, unteachable partner? The sharks don't.
  • Don't give up. In one of the earlier seasons of Shark Tank, a man was turned down because, although his idea was great, he didn't have enough information about the business end of his venture. He reappeared on the show a few seasons later and told the sharks, "When I was rejected last time, I walked out and held my head high, but I took your advice and worked on my numbers." He began to rattle off percentages and dollar amounts that were so impressive, four of the sharks ended up fighting each other for a piece of the action. C.S. Lewis was right when he said, "Failures are fingerprints on the road to achievement."
  • If you don't believe in yourself, neither will anyone else. A few times, the sharks have made deals with people simply because they were impressed with the person's enthusiasm over their own product. A teenager who created a cosmetic product and started a fledgling business was mildly mocked by one of the sharks because of her youth and inexperience. After four rejected her request, the last shark standing grabbed on to her enthusiasm and sealed a deal. "I really like your product," he explained, "but more than that, I'm impressed with you and your attitude. I'm going to make you a millionaire." And, he did!
  • Pressure is healthy. Imagine the tension of standing in front of a panel of potential investors with television cameras pointed at your face. On top of that, the sharks are peppering you with questions about your sales, gross profit, purchase orders, marketing strategies and other staggering subjects, expecting you to have it all memorized and ready to recite at the drop of a hat. The sharks want to see if a potential partner will fold under pressure. One nervous woman did fold, crying as she explained, "I'm just a housewife, you know. How can I do justice to this business when I also have to manage a house and a family?" The sharks swam the other way.
The chances of you or me appearing on Shark Tank are pretty slim. But, the chance of us wading through the shark tank of life are pretty definite. Learning lies in the midst of rejection. We can do a "dead man's float" and let the waves of discouragement control our destiny. Or, we can accept the learning curve and swim to success.

Every one of life's bites carries a valuable lesson. I think it's worth being bitten, don't you?







Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Age of Irrelevance - Part One

In the movie Ocean's Eleven, Reuben Tishkoff makes a deal with shyster Willy Bank to go in half in building a casino. Danny Ocean warns Reuben not to make the deal with Bank, but Reuben responds, "Danny I gotta do dis!" Of course, Bank turns the tables on Reuben and coerces him out of the investment he made. As a result, Reuben slips into a serious bedridden depression, rendering him pretty much useless.

When Danny confronts him about what he did to Reuben, Bank replies, "He's old. He's irrelevant. Let him roll over and die."

The movie is pretty funny, and in the end Bank gets his. However the Reuben vs. Bank vs. Ocean segment is pretty eye-opening.

Who determines when a person has become irrelevant?

An attractive, talented young woman in her 30s lamented that she feels she is no longer needed, convinced that the ship of opportunity has sailed as a younger generation pushes her into irrelevance.

A man in his 50s is a musical genius. However, he has been relegated to working with senior citizens because he is considered too old to capture the more modern styles of music. Now, instead of flowing in his natural giftings, he is forced to function in an area where there may be a need, but passion is lacking.

When did man assume the responsibility of putting a cap on God-given gifts? Some people cap themselves when they become convinced they are no longer relevant, as they glide through a passionless life. Others listen to age-biased, self-serving Willy Bank-type people who squeeze whatever value they can out of a person and then toss the peelings to the side. God never caps His gifts. He grows and inspires and perfectly connects the gifts to the needs.

I'm not going to share my exact age; however, I will admit that I am enjoying the benefits of Medicare. At my senior age, I lead the young adult class at our church. Currently, we are studying the book Experiencing God - Young Adult Version. The book takes the readers through the process of making important decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives. When I first started reading the book, panic almost set in as I realized nearly all of my life-affecting decisions have already been made and I am now living the consequences (good and bad) of those decisions. My class, on the other hand, is just at the threshold of facing those important decisions, and I have the privilege of walking through the process with them.

The class doesn't judge me for my age or stodginess, and I don't look down on them for their inexperience and immaturity. We have a mutual respect for one another. They know I love their excitement and energy; and I know they appreciate my wisdom and experience (and my scrumptious brownies). They feed my "I gotta do dis!" passion and I feed their "You better do dis!" need.

Maybe it's time for those who feel they are irrelevant to put the "I gotta do dis!" passion into gear and start making tracks. After all, they've been around the block a few times. And, if the GPS isn't working for them, they can always rely on the good old-fashioned folded paper map to find their way. It's all relevant, isn't it?


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Closing Our Borders

 

During a recent medical check-up, my doctor advised that my husband and I have the DTP shot--Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (whooping cough).  "Especially if you're going to be around newborn babies," she cautioned.

Since we are being blessed with two brand-new grand babies within two months of each other, we decided to lean on the side of caution and get shot--for the sake of Evelyn Elizabeth and Baby James. Today I have a nagging ache in my upper right arm, a reminder of yesterday's visit to the health clinic. The guy who said "love hurts" may have been on to something.

My consternation over the whole shot thing came when I learned that our country has experienced a revival of whooping cough, measles and TB. I thought those maladies were conquered years ago! How did they creep back into our country?

Open borders.

No, I'm not going political in this blog. However, it's no secret that the recent flood of immigrants has reintroduced certain viruses that had been under control for decades. In taking a closer look, we can see a couple of similarities between our nation's borders and '"borders" of protection that we should establish for our own mental, emotional and spiritual protection.

1. Caution vs. compassion - When Ellis Island opened in the late 1800s, it became the protective border for the U.S.   Immigrants were screened and examined. Those deemed too unhealthy to enter were deported. Today some might consider such screenings as a lack of compassion or an invasion of privacy. But, think about it. A cautionary physical exam was probably the most compassionate act any immigrant could have received. Contagions were discovered and treated immediately.  It was healing for them and protection for others.

Be careful that your compassion doesn't go overboard and you allow unhealthy, infectious people into your life who remain a danger to themselves, as well as to you and others. Sometimes caution is the greatest act of compassion. 


2. Changing values - During the years of the heaviest immigration, only around 2% of aliens were deported, as Boards of Special Inquiry screened each case.The boards were not so much concerned with preventing immigration as they were with preventing the immigration of those who might become public charges. (See article at www.devlin-family.com/EllisHappened.htm) America was the land of opportunity and it was expected that immigrants would work hard to make the American Dream a reality. Today, our immigration laws are much more relaxed and the expectation of hard-working immigrants has been traded for generous government handouts whether people work or not. This is very unfortunate, because people who don't work won't develop muscle, and they end up  becoming weak and dependent.

It is vital that we establish unchanging, unrelaxed values in our own lives. For example, who am I willing to help? When should my assistance end? What do I need to see from them to determine if my support should continue? Without our own solid, consistent values, we can easily enable others rather than empower them; and the values they create for themselves will be weak or, worse, non-existent.


Our country has changed and will continue to do so. Whether or not we agree with the direction our nation is headed, we all need a periodic dose of reality to remind us that disregarding cautionary actions or breaching our own values weakens our boundaries. I would rather endure an inconvenient  shot of reality than live in unhealthy oblivion.

If I allow open borders in my life, Evelyn Elizabeth and Baby James could be exposed to something more harmful than whooping cough.





Sunday, February 1, 2015

Move your furniture!




A funny thing happened at our house recently. Let me go back ten years and bring you up to date.

When we moved into the home where we currently live, we purchased new furniture for the living room because we had moved our old furniture into the family room of the new house.

Over the years, the living room (and the new furniture) has remained unused because we spend most of our time in the family room. I have religiously dusted and vacuumed the living room, and even treated the leather furniture, sometimes wondering what purpose it had.

A few months ago my husband made a trip to Florida and brought back some of his mother's possessions, including beautiful antique hand-carved furniture. Three of the ornate pieces landed in my office. Now we had TWO rooms of unused furniture. Our home was quickly turning into a museum.

At first I enjoyed the antique pieces in the office. Although they didn't quite blend in with the African decor, they did look classy. One day, I was busy at my desk and decided I wanted to change positions and sit on a more comfortable seat. Alas! No where in the office to sit. It had furniture, but not for practical use.

I approached my husband with the idea to move the living room furniture into the office and relocate his mother's antique pieces into the living room. He (reluctantly) agreed and we began the moving process. After a few sweaty hours, the switch was complete.

Now with my mother-in-law's treasured possessions on display, the living room looks even more like a museum. The ornate furniture has found a perfect place, but it remains unused. And, I still dust it religiously.

However, an amazing transformation took place in the office. After we moved and resettled the furniture, I walked down the hall and glanced in the office. There sat my husband on the couch that had been unused for years. Grinning at me, he said, "This couch really is comfortable. I found my new reading spot." He had even adjusted the track lighting so it would illuminate his new corner of the world.

The next morning, I fixed my coffee and avoided the family room. Instead, I made my way to the office to test the comfortable couch. Ahhh. My husband was right. Now I had found my new morning quiet-time spot.

A few days later, my husband announced, "If you need me, I'll be in the study." Study? We have a study? I watched as he disappeared into the office.

It's amazing the transformation that can take place just by moving a few pieces of furniture to a different room. The office suddenly transitioned into a study. The furniture that looked stiff in the living room was actually extremely comfortable and useful. Making the move redefined the purpose and identity of the furniture AND the room. And, furniture that is used more often requires less dusting! Go figure.

Our lives are a lot like furniture. We can be stiff, ornate dust collectors, silently communicating "Do not touch." Or we can reposition ourselves (no matter how inconvenient) and discover a new sense of fulfillment from which others can benefit.Just because God created us from dust doesn't mean we should spend a lifetime collecting it.

Now please excuse me while I make my way to the office--I mean the study.









Thursday, January 15, 2015

Playing the Game of Transition


For the past 3 years I have served as treasurer of an organization. Since I moved to a new position on the board, a new treasurer was named and we went through the process of transitioning the responsibilities, files and bank signatures.

To be honest, I really thought I'd be delighted to relinquish the books. But, as we sat in the banker's office and I watched while she deleted my name from the account and destroyed the debit card I had guarded for three years, I felt like I had just adopted out my baby.

The new treasurer is a young capable guy and I know the books will be in good hands. But releasing something you've controlled for so long is not easy. Will he be as conscientious as I was? What if he changes the way I did things? Does he think he's smarter? Will I feel less capable with someone else at the reins? Or (worse) what will the board think about the young fresh breath of air compared to the stale way things had been done for three years?

I suppose a lot of people struggle with similar thoughts during transitions. Kenny Rogers  knew what he was talking about when he sang, "You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away, know when to run . . ." Of course, Kenny was talking about the game of poker. But, there's a great principle buried in those lyrics. I didn't run from the treasurer's position. It was just time to fold 'em and move over to a new responsibility so someone else could step up and hold 'em.

How do we know when it's time to walk away from a responsibility? When our mission is accomplished and someone else is ready to replace us. In fact, the Jenga game holds the secret.

Jenga contains 54 tiles stacked three across, making a tower 18 stories (tiles) high. The object of the game is to carefully move one tile at a time and restack it at the top of the tower without the entire structure collapsing. If the game is played correctly, the structure will double its height to 36 stories. (The current record is a rebuilt Jenga tower measuring 40 stories high.)

The key in moving a Jenga tile is to gently touch it to see if it's movable. If the tile is loose, the player carefully removes it from its lower spot to a position at the top of the tower. The process continues until all of the pliable pieces have been relocated and those remaining serve as solid support from below for the newly-positioned tiles.

We will know when to relinquish a position when someone else is pliable and ready to move up. Sometimes our only responsibility is to serve as the solid support for our replacement, which is just as important as serving in the actual position. If we play our cards right by knowing when to "hold" and when to "fold", the organization/team/ministry can substantially increase its effectiveness as it grows higher, thanks to the fresh resources that were pulled from the bottom and relocated to the top.

The most valuable benefit is that EVERYONE grows in the process. Those delegated to a new position at the top can express creativity and fresh ideas. Those remaining at the base become stronger as they flex their muscle in support of others.

Wherever you are--top or bottom--play the game right.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

A New Year Reset

During a recent visit with my daughter and son-in-law I casually mentioned that I was having trouble updating my  iPhone. "No problem," my daughter said. "Josh can help you with that. He loves technology." A little warning bell went off in my mind that the wonderful relationship I have with my son-in-law might be jeopardized if he started probing into my technological limitations and realized how lame his mother-in-law really is.

You see, my iPad, iPhone and laptop are like self-destructive weapons in my hands. No doubt any Malware on my computer entered through a door that I opened myself.  I have a love/hate relationship with my equipment; and, if they could talk, I'm sure the iPad, iPhone and laptop would say the feeling is mutual.

However, I was desperate for help so I asked Josh to come to my electronic rescue. Within just a few minutes, we both knew we were in trouble when he began asking questions.

  • When was the last time you updated your phone? [I can't remember the last time]
  • How did these other programs start running on your computer? [Ummm - what programs?]
  • What happened to ITunes? [Why? Is it gone?]
His diagnosis and recommendations: (1) If your phone doesn't update, we may have to reset it, which means you might lose some data. I'm sure you've saved everything to the Cloud, right? [gulp] (2) Somehow unknown programs have invaded your computer. Some of them are pretty stubborn. We need to do some uninstalling. Just be careful from now on, o.k.? (3) Your phone is updated through ITunes. And, since ITunes has somehow been deleted from your computer, we need to reinstall it.

It was a long, arduous process with several glitches along the way. I noticed he used his properly-running equipment to make queries and searches for information so my equipment could function with equal ease.

Later that evening I enjoyed my updated phone and faster-running computer, and I blessed Josh for his concern and patience. But, apparently he wasn't satisfied. A couple of days later he and my daughter presented me with a brand new laptop. He spent another day transferring data from my old "relic" to the new laptop punctuated with periodic warnings about unknown and uninvited malicious programs that can cause more harm than good.

It's amazing the effect a brand new shiny laptop has on how a person performs and thinks. Suddenly I find myself being extremely careful with how I use it, especially making sure that nothing uninvited finds its way into my pristine machine.

You see, it was a gift and I want to treat it as such.

The new year may be a good time for a reset in life. Ponder this:

  • When was the last time you let God update your mind? Can't remember? It's o.k. if some data gets lost in the renewal process. ("Be transformed by the renewing of your mind" Romans 12:2.)
  • What unknown "programs" have invaded your life? God is the perfect antivirus to warn about and remove malicious software. ("[God] will protect me from trouble" Psalms 32:7.)
  •  What happened to your "iTunes"? Let God reinstall your joy. ("He put a new song in my mouth" Psalms 40:3).
And if you think you're an old relic, God will perform a brand new work if you'll let Him. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17.

You'll be amazed at how differently you'll think, talk and act. It's a gift. Enjoy it.

Happy NEW Year!