Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waiting and the patience will practice patience as you read this one...

I know that patience is a virtue, but I don't have it yet. I don't really pray for it, because I figure that more patience testing will come if I do (just being honest). I don't like lines. I don't like following slow walkers in the mall or an airport. I hate traffic jams and drivers that stay in the fast lane driving 35 MPH. I dislike when my laptop has the spinning wheel of death or is slower than I think it should be. I can't stand sitting in the airport waiting on my flight (doing that now). Do you get the picture? I really detest waiting and patience - not saying it's a good thing that I don’t like it. It's just me. 

Now I know that patience has to be part of me and every other person and that waiting is a thing that we all do most everyday, so I have to be patient and wait lots, and I am patient when I have to be. I think there's a curve you get to, where you just get over the wait and realize your impatience is hurting you more than anyone, so you smile and sit and wait some more. You have to. Getting mad or frustrated will only make things worse and usually you will bother others and hurt your reputation in the process. 
I also think the curve gets silly at a point along the way too. Not long ago I was on a flight from New York City to Chicago. We were on the plane and rolling out to set our course, when a huge rain storm hit. The plane was actually being moved by the wind while we sat in line. The pilot said we would have to wait it out for about 45 minutes or so. There were a few moans and sighs, but we knew we were safer to wait. About 2 1/2 hours later, the pilot said we were going to go back to the gate (FCC regulations) because we were on the plane too long. Every 15 minutes, after that, we were told that it should be just 15 minutes more, but hundreds of planes were now backed up along the eastern seaboard and the line was growing, so we knew it would be awhile. 
I was sitting with some newlyweds and we hit the 5 hour mark and could do nothing but joke and laugh at every announcement and laugh at those that were getting upset. We got so tickled (southern word for laughing hard) that we could no longer do anything but laugh and smile at the situation. We passed the final curve of patience and realized that life would go on just fine. It took over 7 hours to finally get to Chicago...ouch.
I wrote this on a flight and directly after the flight, I had to put patience to the test twice. First, there was a luggage issue after my flight landed and it took about 45 minutes for the luggage to get off he plane and then it went to the wrong carousel. I kept my cool and just found the luggage and rode to the rental car facility (aren’t you proud of me?). 
I got to the Enterprise Rent-a-Car counter and there were over 20 people in line (no joke)! I just smiled and walked up to the line. The man in front of me (about 6’5” and 350 lbs), was dressed in his business attire, but was fuming. He could not believe the length of the line and he let everyone know it. He made several comments to anyone who would listen and asked me my thoughts on a worker that left with the line so long. I just said “They have to have a lunch break sometime.” He glared at me (I think I made a new friend for life), and when he finally got to the counter, he paid extra to get an upgraded car. When I got to the area to get my car, I chit-chatted with the employee and asked if they satisfied the man that was complaining. He smiled and took me over to get my car (mine was the cheapest economy price) and he said “Do you want the HHR, the Jeep, the minivan or the Volvo?” Volvo? Are you kidding me - the Volvo was it. He upgraded me because of some kind “patient” words. Patience sure pays off - I guess I will change my impatient ways.
Lessons Learned: Patience is needed and the wait won't hurt you (sometimes it means a Volvo), especially if you pass the final curve.
Thoughts: Have you laughed so hard you couldn't stand it? 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Time change and time zones...

I know that time zones have to be there and I understand the reason for daylight savings time, but both can be a pain. Today is just a pet peeve day - you can look at it as a failure if you want.  

Daylight savings time messes me up more than just the two times it changes each year. I remember the changes this way: Spring forward and Fall back, so that's not the problem for me. Really, even the Spring forward, when we lose an hour of sleep, is not a big deal. The Fall part is what bugs me (I kinda like the extra hour sleep, that night, though). The days, this time of year, get shorter anyway, and then you add to this fact that the time change causes the sunrise to be an hour earlier and sunset follows that same path. This makes for a sunset at 4:45 in the afternoon - it's not even evening yet! You feel like you should get in the bed around 6:00 PM! That's the part that bugs me. 
Time zones are the next thing. We can't all live on the same clock because day would be night and night would be day depending on where you lived and that would be impossible to live with, but I still don't like them. I travel some and most of my customers are in the Eastern time zone, while I'm in the Central. Some of my customers are in the Mountain and Pacific, which makes things even more confusing. When I travel, I use my calendar on my iPhone and iPad and MacBook Pro (I actually use Calengoo - really good App when you have multiple calendars to combine). 
The problem is that I set the appointment in EST, while living in CST, and then when I travel, my phone automatically adjusts to the place I travel to and the time change adjusts the calendar to the different zone. I know there are ways to fix this, but after years of travel I still confuse myself and get frustrated.  So I have decided that I will just go to my appointments whenever I feel like it and my customers will have to be satisfied with the time I arrive. I am going to start living on island time - if you've ever been to an island, you fully understand the concept - set an appointment time but just show up when you feel like it!
Lessons Learned: Stop bring stressed out about time. 
Thoughts: Have you ever missed an appointment because of time zones?

Monday, November 28, 2011

What are you doing? (say it with a sarcastic tone)

I've said before that I like organization and I like the details of life. It drives me crazy to see someone planning something and not think through their plan or look ahead to see what the next step should be. One little missed detail can mess up the entire event being planned, just like one missed ingredient can ruin a meal or cake. We have to pay attention to what we are doing both now and to what's coming up down the road, so we can be effective in what we do.
I have plans for most all that I do. I put my business trips together with details for each hour I'm gone, so I use all the time I can, as wisely as possible. I put a personal budget together with year-out projections and set money aside in several different accounts (emergency, birthday, medical, kid's clothing, etc.) so I'm ahead of the plan for what's coming up during the year. I organize my cold calling and what I have to do for work each day. I plan what I will say in an upcoming meeting. I pack my suitcases two days ahead of a trip. I write out the details for any church function that I'm responsible to handle. I set out a plan for when we do what event on vacation. Call me OCD if you like.
Here's my fail with this. I'm not really flexible with what's going on, so if I get stuck in a traffic jam or if I get a call to say the meeting will start late, I get frustrated and bothered. I also forget that God has a better plan for the time I have each day and that He may be protecting me from something that I can't see ahead to.  I sometimes forget that the financial emergencies of life that eat up all of my budgets and leave me in a bind are to draw me closer to Him, so I can trust Him for His provision and see Him take care of the expense that I didn't see or couldn't plan for.
I still think it's important to be organized and on top of details, but I have to realize that God's plans are much higher than mine. 
Lessons Learned: Be as organized as possible, but trust the Lord for the details. He’s the great organizer, not you anyway...
Thoughts: What details have you been frustrated by lately? 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas is a comin’ and the goose is getting fat...sorry PETA...

This is from an old song/poem and every year I feel like I can start saying/singing this earlier and earlier. I don’t eat goose, but I understand the concept of getting fat during this time of year - hopefully I’m not headed for the slaughter though - again, sorry PETA. It seems like right after Valentine’s day, the Christmas sales and emails begin. I love Christmas and the true meaning of the season. Christmas is a tremendous season, however I think it’s way too commercialized now, but that’s another subject.

Since we are at the Thanksgiving season, I think this is a fine time to start thinking about Christmas. On the Friday after Thanksgiving my family puts up the Christmas trees and all the decorations around he house. We are not extreme with this, but we enjoy the season and all the things that go along with it. We even enjoy all of the silly movies that come along with this season - think Hallmark know what I mean. 
As we look forward to Christmas, we can enjoy all of the family get-togethers, the Church programs and functions, the work Christmas parties and the extra time with family, but don’t forget, even in this early part, to remember the true meaning of Christmas. God sent His Son to be born so that we could see salvation after He lived His life and died to be the final sacrifice for our sins. 
Be thankful as we finish the Thanksgiving season and look forward to Christmas coming soon.
Lessons Learned: Enjoy the season, but don’t forget the real reason.
Thoughts: How much of your Christmas list is finished already?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Amazed, grateful and in awe...

First of all, I’m amazed that God would love me the way He has and does! Why would I possibly deserve His love and grace in my life. That the Creator of the universe would send His Son to die for me and that He put me in a home that allowed me to hear the Gospel is truly amazing. The other part of that amazing, is that God not only saves us, but wants to be a regular part of our lives. He actually cares about my every need and wants me to share those needs with Him. That’s truly AMAZING!!!

Next, I’m grateful! There are so many things in my life that I don’t deserve and I have been blessed beyond any possible measure. I am grateful for my family. I have an incredible Wife and four wonderful children that are a gift from the Lord. I have a tremendous church to be involved in. I have been given ministry opportunities that are a blessing. I have a great home to live in and nice vehicles to drive. I have a good job (I know others that are not in that position right now). I have friends that put up with me. I am very GRATEFUL!!!
Finally, I’m in awe! I already listed all the things that amaze me and some of the many things I’m grateful for, but I’m in awe of one unbelievable thing in my life. God never gives up on me. He is always faithful to me. Every time I fail, He picks me up and whenever I choose to sin, He forgives me. God loves me so much, that He takes me in His arms and comforts me as I struggle with failure. I am so grateful that I can fail and that He forgives me.
Lessons Learned: Always be amazed, grateful and in awe of what you have and who you are.
Thoughts: What have you been grateful for today?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Choose your thankfulness...

We all have choices in life. We can choose to be happy. We can choose to be upset. We can choose to be kind to others. We can choose to cut someone off when we drive. We can choose to say things that will impact others and encourage them. We can choose to say things that aren’t true and hurt others. The choices we make impact us and those around us daily.
We can also choose to be thankful. I think that thankfulness is an attitude and a choice, not just something we do once a year in November. I think, that people, that are truly grateful are grateful all year round. I think that being thankful is hard and takes constant effort to ensure you express your gratitude to others. I think that thankfulness is a choice and we either choose to be thankful or we don’t. It’s not natural, but it’s incredibly valuable to you and to the ones you thank.
In saying all that, I think that we should be thankful for everything we have, not just the positives in life. We’re all grateful for the good things that occur each day and week. We are grateful as we look back on a year of good things that have occurred and we take time to express that to others and to the Lord, but we forget the “bad” things. I think the “bad” things come to us for a reason and God wants us to be grateful for them and the lessons we learn from them too. We need to look at the positives within the negatives and find what we should be thankful for with them too.
Finally, just be thankful! Make it a lifestyle and not just a happenstance...
Lessons Learned: God is good - Always!!!
Thoughts: Have you said thanks for the tough things that happened this year?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanks...I mean it...

I notice a couple of things about thankfulness that seem odd to me...

Lots of folks are not thankful. I see nice things done for people all the time and yet the people who received the act of kindness seem to think they deserve it. This would not be completely odd in a young child, but it’s really strange with an adult. Why would someone not say thanks for a kindness done to or for them? Have we trained people to expect everything as an entitlement? Do people truly believe that they owe nothing to others? To those who have helped them?
It is amazing to me that people do not say thanks. I would rather thank someone twice to be sure they heard it than leave it alone and say nothing. Not everyone expects thanks and they shouldn't, but it encourages the one who gave, when they are thanked for the thing they did. We should look at thankfulness as a ministry and know that we impact others by being grateful. Giving is better than receiving so we should give thanks.
On the other hand, lots of folks say thanks, but don't mean it. They say it in passing, as if they feel obliged to do so. They feel like a cosmic force pushes them to say the word “thanks.” Sometimes people say thanks just to get credit or look good to others. They will say thanks in front of a group or certain individuals so that those people think well of them. This is not effective and, usually people see through it, so it hurts rather than helps. 
One of the points of being thankful is understanding that something was done for you that you didn’t deserve, and another, is to be a blessing to the one who was kind to you. 
Lessons Learned: Be thankful...and mean it. 
Thoughts: When was the last time you took someone aside and truly thanked them?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Admit your mistakes...

Most people, not only hate failure, but they hate admitting their failures even more. I can't say that I'm at a point where I truly enthusiastically embrace failure or desire to fail everyday, but I have learned to deal with it as it happens and to learn from it. There are tons of valuable lessons to be learned from every mistake we make, whether it was on purpose or by accident. 

I went to Walmart last week, where I had too pick up a couple of items and I had three experiences where someone failed and didn't want to admit it.
  1. I came up to a line to pay for my items and a lady quickly cut in front of me as she saw me approach the line. She had nothing in her hands and no buggy. I had only two items. She was trying to save a spot for her husband, who had a cartful of stuff and was 20 feet behind her. She made no apology and I let her stay in front of me, without saying anything. Her husband saw my two items and what she had done and quickly told me to go ahead because I had so few things to pay for. He got a glare and I'm sure he has a nice sofa to sleep on tonight. She failed, but didn't admit it or let it go. I thanked them as i left the checkout, for allowing me to go ahead of them. He smiled and she glared.
  2. I pulled out of my parking spot and began to head down the lane. As I slowly moved along, a man speedily backed out right in front of me and I beeped so I wouldn't get hit and, hopefully would cause him to stop. He didn't stop, but I got out of the way alright. He waved at me, as if to say thanks for letting me out. He, very likely, knew he was in the wrong, but tried to pass it off instead of admitting his wrong.   
  3. I pulled out onto the road and was driving along and a young guy turned left directly in front of me. He saw me, but turned his head pretending that he was looking at something else and didn't face me. I see this all the time while driving - people cut you off and then look away with the hope you don't get mad at them or act like they did nothing wrong. They react to their guilt by ignoring the problem, instead of facing you and waving in apology. 
Lessons Learned: When we make a mistake or fail, just admit it and move on, being sure to make it right to the best of our ability. 
Thoughts: Did you cut someone off today? 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Guy and the Bozos...

I was able to attend a leadership seminar where Guy Kawasaki shared some insights about business. It was very helpful and he was dead on target with his approach to business and growing companies. He had several points that were simple and gave direction for how to move a business forward.

I like these types of events because they are motivating and they give me principles that can help me in my daily work. I also like them because, sometimes I can apply them to my life personally and to ministry, that I may be involved with. In today’s case, he reminded us not to let the bozos get us down and he gave several examples, in business where people thought the next great idea or invention was a waste of time - Yahoo, the telephone, the computer, etc.
This made me think about my life. I am not perfect and I fail a bunch, thus my entire premise for this blog. I do things the way I believe they should be done and I try to give my best. Sometimes that’s not good enough and sometimes people talk behind my back with their own ideas. I don’t get hurt by that, because they are the bozos in my life. Once in awhile they even say something to me directly, telling me how I have done the wrong thing or done it the wrong way.
One example of this is in ministry. I work in several areas of my church and try my best to help our Pastor and the ministry with the gifts God has given me. One of my favorite areas is our annual Mission’s Conference every February. We do a lot that week and it takes me, literally, hundreds of hours in preparation and detail to get all the work done, set up and orchestrate all the segments of the week. I don’t try and do it for the praise (sure I get selfish once in awhile), but I really put a bunch of work into it.
Last year, I remember someone (they were well meaning, I think) came up to me near the end of the week and told me several items I did wrong and ways they would do it to make it better. I took he advice (I have actually asked them to help this year), but inside, I thought “Why didn’t you come to me and help me at the beginning?” “Why didn’t you put any work into this week other than the criticism?” I could have taken the thoughts and become discouraged, but instead, I realized they were being a bozo at that moment and I just finished the week to the best of my ability.
Lessons Learned: Don’t let the bozos get you down. They will take your plans, ideas and work, and discourage you from moving forward. (Credit to Guy Kawasaki)
Thoughts: Have you been a bozo to someone this week?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

First napkin experience...

Recently I was in a restaurant on another business trip in Texas and went out to eat for supper. When I sat down there was a napkin folded neatly around my silverware neatly placed and ready for me. It's nice to walk into a restaurant and have it already set up for your meal, so I was impressed. 

I ordered my Coke Zero with lemon and lime (this is the only way to have it) and also ordered my meal. As I was eating, I realized that I needed some extra napkins (I'm a sloppy eater), so I asked the waiter for a couple more. This is where the story changes. The napkins that he brought we're the little drink napkins that you put under your Coke Zero with lemon and lime. Those napkins are just about useless! They generally fall apart when you use them and really aren't that good under your Coke Zero with lemon and lime.  This was not the first time this had happened to me at a restaurant. 
These are some thoughts that came to mind as I was looking at the useless napkins:
Are first impressions the only impressions we need to make, or does our character shine through even more effectively when we consistently have the same attitude of excellence? Are we, as people in life and in business, supposed to just do our best at first? Are we to focus on the initial impression so much that we forget about all the other details? Should we just hook people by the outward show or should we have that true intrinsic desire to do our absolute best all the way through? 
Lessons learned: Think about how deep our principles run and how important the little things are along the way.
Thoughts: Do you give people a first napkin experience all the time?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Compliance and the donut shop...

I was talking to my sales team last week about what motivates people. The lowest common denominator that motivates each of us is simply compliance. DO IT OR ELSE! Our parents used it. Lots of bosses use it. Many people use it with their friends. We use it. Compliance motivates us to just obey. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s important to obey and be in line with what you should be doing, but sometimes we get demotivated by obeying for obedience sake. We have to take it to the next level.

We have to change our attitudes to do right because it’s right, not just to comply with the authority figure in our lives. We shouldn't serve the Lord, just because we think that others want us to. We should do it because we want to and we know it’s right and that it will please the Lord. We often hear a good preacher say what he does and then we emulate it because he said we should.  It truly may be a good thing to do, but it should be done for more than “just because.” it should be a want to inside of us.
I want my children to comply to my authority in their lives and my boss wants me to comply to his authority on the job, but as a leader we should help those that follow us understand why it’s a good idea to obey the commands we give. If we take a few minutes to give a simple explanation of the importance of the compliance item, we will go a lot further than just saying “DO IT, BECAUSE I SAID SO!”
Lessons Learned: Lead with leadership and not just the “I said so” attitude.
Thoughts: Do you like donuts? (has nothing to do with my thoughts today - I just like donuts)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Messy piles...

I like to have things orderly, neat if possible (a thing for every place and a place for everything). I don’t like when my children leave clothing, toys or other items sitting around. I get bothered by junk just hanging out in spots that it shouldn't. If you have to have a stack of papers, then make the stack neat. If you have to have a pile of clothing sitting, then fold them and make it look nice. Way picky, but I want to train my children to be the best that they can be.
If you look in my dresser, you will see that my stuff is neatly stacked and folder and not jammed in. Even my socks have two sections: dress/work socks and athletic socks. I like things to have order. I like things to be taken care of and not just wadded up or set aside. The items we have in life cost money and I believe we should be good stewards of what we have. If we take care of what we have today, it will last for tomorrow too. I know that it sounds old fashioned, and maybe a little simple, but I live by it to the best of my ability.
What is created by this can be a monster though. My children know that I don’t like for anything to just sit for days on end, so they see me get frustrated with them and they feel pressure to have everything in order when I get home. It also puts pressure on my wife because she feels like the house has to be perfect when I arrive home from a trip. It also puts undue pressure on me. I can’t walk by anything without picking it up or making sure that all of my stuff is put away neatly and correctly.
Lessons Learned: There are times in life that a pile or two won’t hurt anything - relax a bit, but still take care of your stuff.
Thoughts: What pile do you need to clean up today? What pile can you just leave sit?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ouch, Ouch, Ouch...

It’s so easy to fail. I know that I tell you failing is okay, but it still hurts when you fail, and in failing sometimes you hurt others.  I don’t mind failing when it just hurts me, but when it causes pain to a loved one, friend or colleague, I'm not so happy. Sometimes you don’t even realize that you’ve hurt them until it’s too late. 

That’s when you have to kick into a different gear to correct your failure. You then have to seek forgiveness and make it right. You can’t just let it sit there and hope all works out. You have to make sure you correct the mistake (intentional or not) and then make sure that you don’t do it again. It’s never easy eating humble pie and many folks don’t like to even bother with making things right, but I’ve found, over the years, that it’s always best to be as right as possible with others.
Why did I say all this? Because I can be too firm at times (sometimes I even come across harsh because my voice is so loud, and I am a little too quick to react). I have tried to work on this and have a soft answer, but I struggle. I have high expectations for myself and for those around me and this causes me to get upset more easily than I should. Sometimes I overact like this with my children when they need to be corrected. Often it’s a little thing that I'm bothered by, and I have just wasted time, energy and chipped away at a relationship when I overreact to that small thing. I often have to go back to my children and ask them to forgive me so I don’t break our relationship. It's not easy being human...we all struggle with failures in life and this is one that I don't like in me.  
All of this hurts and it’s one of the areas of failure that I have come to dislike and that I’m glad won’t be in Heaven.
Lessons Learned (Learning): I have to be sure to take time to respond correctly rather than just react. Counting to 10 works and praying first works better...
Thoughts: Who have you hurt today? What are some failures that you struggle with? Do you overreact and get bothered too easy sometimes?


Friday, November 11, 2011

Connect with Ministry in Mind...

I have recently been able to connect with a number of old (used intentionally - not me, just them) college friends. This has been awesome and we have reminisced about our time in school together and have shared some very humorous stories on our FaceBook reunion page - now these are only funny to those that were involved in the situations, but to us, they bring back great memories and many laughs. 

I have said before that I think smiling and laughter is very important. It’s not just about drawing attention to yourself, it’s about taking the seriousness out of a day and enjoying the current and past experiences of life. This, in my mind, is a simple way to minister to to others. I have said many times to Sunday school classes, that one easy way for everyone to minister is to smile and shake someone's hand at church. It connects with ministry.
This reminded me that when I connect or reconnect with people from the past or present, that I need always keep focused on other’s needs and not mine.  I can tend to focus on how I’m feeling or a current stress in my life or a need that has come up with me and forget that we all hurt. Some of my old friends have some very serious issues they are dealing with in many areas - finances, health, personal issues, etc.  Life is sometimes hard for all of us, but we can (I can) be a help to others if I will put it on my mind when I connect by FaceBook, Twitter, text messages, IM, phone calls, and especially, in person.
Lessons Learned: It’s great to connect, but more important to minister. Other’s needs are just as great as mine - I need to help them.
Thoughts: How have you met someone else’s needs today? Today is also tomorrow, and the next day and next week, next month, next get it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Listening with a deaf ear...

I was reminded this week that often the people that we talk to don’t actually pay attention to what we say. I also realized that most people do not give undivided focus to any single item or person anymore, at all. We live in a diverse and busy multi-tasking world and it divides our attention among many things at one time. I am not saying that I don’t like multi-tasking, because I like to have more than one thing going at a time, but I don’t like to be ignored or forgotten and I don't like that I ignore or forget others too.

I guess this made me think about whether or not I focus on those that speak to me or if I have 20 others things grabbing my attention, so that, I don’t hear what they are saying. It takes diligence to focus on one person and one conversation, rather than allowing your mind to jump from item to item. I used to think it was just ADD or ADHD or any of those ABCD’s, but I think it just might be human nature and not a disease or disorder. We all do it. My children do it, I do it, my coworkers do it - everyone loses the needed focus that we should have.
This is a challenging thought because we all tend to be selfish and want to talk and think about what we want to talk and think about. We don’t want to focus on another’s need or what they are saying, and that often hurts them, because they need us to care about them and hear them. Ouch! This really caused me to think today that I have to be more focused on the needs of others rather than just on me.
Lessons Learned: Others need us. We need others. Pay attention.
Thoughts: When was the last time that you actually focused, on purpose, to another person’s conversation?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Ugly Guy and the Smile...

I think smiling is of huge value in life. It’s contagious. I sometimes look at one of my children and just smile...they can't help but begin to smile back, even if they are in a terrible mood or really don’t want to. Sometimes it bugs them, but after they smile, they always feel better and they have renewed energy for the next thing in the day.  I know that when I smile it impacts me positively every time.

The other thing about a smile is that even the absolute ugliest person can make you grin when they smile. I saw a guy recently that was truly ugly, not just a little bit not handsome, but painfully ugly. He said something to someone and then he smiled and all the ugliness went away (well most of it) and the smile was catching because I then smiled too.  I couldn't believe the difference in this guy when he smiled.
This reminded me that we often don't smile enough. We have lots of stress in life and we have so much to focus on with multitasking our work, families, church and other portions of our lives, that we forget to smile. I try to make it a point to find something that makes me smile everyday, and sometimes I try to find something that makes me absolutely laugh hysterically, because I know it boosts my spirit and gives me the enthusiasm to move forward with my day, no matter the pain.
Lessons Learned: Smiling and laughter are great medicine and can impact not only you but all those around you (find an ugly person and make them laugh - you will see - by the way, if you have someone come up to you and make you laugh, you might just be that ugly person).
Thoughts: Have you caused a smile today?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Free speech and foul words...

I think that free speech is a tremendous privilege we have in our country.  It’s awesome that we can say what we think. It’s incredible that we don't have to be politically correct when we express ourselves, although many push for that in our country.  We can say it and we can say it proud, when and where we want.

On the other side of this, I think we have confused the importance of saying what we think and when it is appropriate to say what we think. We also get mixed up on the consequences of what we say. This is a deep one today...
I absolutely believe we should be able to say what we believe, but I think we need to keep our speech audience appropriate, and be sure that we don't offend those we are near. The reason I say this is because as I have traveled, over the years, it has become common place to hear foul words by most anyone. Most folks don't hide it, don’t think about it or don’t care that it may not be appropriate for those around them, such as children or even adults. 
It may seem strange in this day and age, but almost 30 years ago, I chose not to cuss or use vulgar language, so I would not be offensive to others or build a reputation that includes that language. I am not being “holier that thou” in this, but it was a personal choice that I made. I am not judging others that chose to use words that I may not, but I still think there is an appropriateness to when we say things. Words have impact and I want people to remember me for more than some foul or vulgar words. 
This doesn't have to go as far as cuss words, it can simply be complaining or gossiping or criticizing. Other people do not need to know that I'm frustrated with the line I am in or that my neighbor’s cat keeps getting in my yard or that the owner of a company is not a good guy. We just need to be aware that others don't need to hear all that we think, even if we can say it.
Lessons Learned: We have to realize that what we say impacts others and not just us. Go on with free speech, but remember that your words impact others and that we are remembered for what we say.
Thoughts: What have you said that has impacted others in a positive way today? What is your reputation based on your words?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Joy, Joy, Joy...

There's a Christmas song that says "Joy, Joy, Joy!" I don't remember the name of the song, and I know that it is mostly referring to Christ's birth, but as I think about it, we should be repeating these words everyday.  We are often caught in the doldrums of what we do each day and we get caught up in the "disaster" or "business" of our day, forgetting to have joy.

This makes me think of a man at our church. His name is Ray and I'm not sure of his age, but I would guess that he's in his early 30's. Ray has a smile that lights up a room and always has true joy on his face. He regularly comes up to me and talks with me. He particularly likes to tease me about my wife. He asks me a "Where's my Baby at?" He's a big flirt. He also likes just listen as I talk to him. He is one of the most friendly and kind people I know. He loves to laugh and smile. He is truly one of those people that you could punch in the nose and they would just smile at you.  Ray is one of a kind.
The thing about Ray is that he is almost completely paralyzed from the neck down and his hands are curled way back to where he can only bump your hand with the back of his wrist when he shakes hands. Ray doesn't know how old he is and can't really speak.  He just mumbles some words and you have to be around Him a lot to understand how to speak "Ray." He can understand most of what is said and thrives on the attention he gets when someone takes a few minutes just to talk to him. He dives his wheelchair thought out our church rooms and sometimes I have to direct traffic for him so no one gets run over. He always brightens my day and when I see him, he is like a magnet - I just have to go and say "hey" to him. Ray is an example to many. He absolutely exudes joy every time I see him.
Lessons Learned: We have no reason to be down. God has blessed us so much and has put folks in our lives, like Ray, to reminds us of how good we have it. Ray has joy, so why shouldn't I everyday?
Thoughts: Have you been a blessing to the Ray in your life lately? Do you have the kind of joy that Ray has all the time? Why do you let the little things get you down?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Rest is a four letter word...

I have often said to family and some friends that I wish I didn't ever have to sleep.  It's not that I hate sleeping, it's that there's so much to do and learn in life, that I could use every minute of every day to get more in.  I know that we need to rest and I try to balance that out with my family, church and work lives, but if I could truly survive on just 2 hours of sleep a day, I would be thrilled.  I may be a wreck, but I would sure get a lot done and learn a lot.

I think God made us to need rest so that we could be more efficient with the wake time we have and to help us realize the need to be organized with the time we have in each day.  I know that I have learned to prioritize my day based on the fact that I only have a certain number of hours to utilize.  As you know, God even rested when He created our world and the entire universe around it.  I don't really think he was tired, but rest allowed Him to reflect on his accomplishments of the day.  As we get to rest, we should reflect on our day and see how we can use the next day even better.
Lessons Learned: Rest is needed to be better in the next step in our lives, which may be simply be the next day.
Thoughts: Have you thought about how to grow yourself as you laid down to rest? Have you applied what you thought about? 

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I have always been a fan of tipping (or at least as long as I have been an adult). I think that if a person is in a position that is of the tipping type, and they do a good job, then a tip is deserved. I don't like when people automatically expect a tip and assume they deserve it just because they did their job (I usually still tip them something though).

I was in a restaurant the other night in Millville, NJ and my waitress did a job of excellence. She kept my Coke zero full, she brought me extra napkins (even though I didn’t ask for them), she made sure I had all that I needed to have a nice meal.  She also took the time to make sure I had salsa to go for the extra chips I had left and gave me some reheating tips for my food.  This is not the norm and I tipped her well for her efforts.

In another location, I had a meal and I had three different waiter/waitresses and didn't know who was really helping me.  I had to look around for somebody to get me some more Coke zero and napkins and couldn't find them. I also had to search for someone to get me my check at the end of the meal. They did as little as possible to get me taken care of that night and I also tipped them accordingly. 
This made me think about how I work. I am not in a position that has tips involved, nor do I ever expect a tip from my customers, but do I work like the first waitress or do I create a confusing and frustrating environment for my customers, like the second restaurant? I have to strive for the highest tip possible in all I do.
Lessons Learned: Simple. Always do your best and work as if your paycheck depended upon it, because it does...
Thoughts: Have you done a job worthy of a big tip this week?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

North and South...

I live in the South.  I am not from the South.  I like the South and am glad that I live there.  I like the culture, the food, the common courtesy, the respect and the hospitality.  We are not a perfect area to live, but it is a great place to live and raise a family.  I am really glad that God put me where I am.

I travel some and sometimes end up in the North.  I have mostly been in the Baltimore/DC area so I have not been truly that far up into the true northern States.  This week that changed. I am in Philadelphia and the surrounding area in New Jersey. I have always thought that people up in this area of the Country were gruff and had a harshness that the South doesn't have.  I was wrong.

I have been pleasantly surprised. I have met many people over the past few days that have been more than hospitable, more than courteous, and more than hospitable. They say a fe words differently than I'm used to (like "cauwfee" which means "coffee") but this has been a great experience.

Lessons Learned: Don't assume anything about people. Don't ball a group of people up into one type. People are generally nice in any area of the Country.

Thoughts: Who have you made an assumption about? Have you had your "cauwfee" today?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Line cutters...and being gracious...

I have always been a rule follower. I like to go by the rules in board games. I like a standard for companies that I work with. I like to have rules of engagement for just about everything in life. Being a details person, I like to have a plan. I don't like to cut corners, or lines for that matter. It bothers me when I see others not follow the rules. Now, don't get me wrong, I speed some and I fail in obeying some rules in life.

As I was standing in line waiting to check in at Southwest (great way to fly), I was asked to come to the counter. Just as I got up there, a guy jumped out of the back of the line directly in front of me and scanned his boarding pass. The gate agent asked if he had cut and he nodded but proceeded to finish. I was a little frustrated with this since I, and others, stood in line and waited, doing the right thing. He finished and left, with no apology. I finished and then followed him into security and tripped him into the TSA agent at the scanner.  Just kidding - I never saw him again. 
This could have been something that ruined a person's day, if they dwelt on it and let it fester. It bothered me for a few minutes, but then I thought that he might be late and maybe he was heading home to his family. No need to let it bother me.  
In the TSA line that day, I hit the front of the de-robing line (I call it that because you remove just about all you own to get through) at the same time another man did. I waived him on. He thanked me and I said I was ahead of schedule. He then got tubs and also grabbed one for me. Now the difference here is that he was grateful and kind in his need to move forward in the lines where the other guy just cut. 
We all have situations to respond to each day. We have to respond to those who treat us kindly and fairly and we have to respond to those that put their own selfishness and bad attitude ahead of ours. We don't want to react, we want to respond. The difference in my mind is that reacting is not planned, where responding is thought through ahead of situations in life. 
Lessons Learned: Who God brings in your path each day allows you to learn and grow. The negative situations in life can always have a positive outcome. 
Thoughts: How have you reacted (responded) to a tough situation today?