Archive for November, 2013

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imagesCAMW6J44Can you believe that Thanksgiving is only two days  away?  It feels like this year has just zipped by. Thinking about Thanksgiving reminded me of a story that i had read some time ago. It’s a great story. This will also be my last post until next Monday at which time I will be sharing about what I call “Impression Management.”

A customer named, Jenny, stopped in a local florist shop to buy an arrangement for thanksgiving. She had no idea what she wanted and she really did not feel like celebrating thanksgiving as there were so many tragedies in her life lately that being thankful was the furthest thing on her mind.  In the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease. During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. “Had she lost a child? No – she has no idea what I’m feeling,” Sandra shuddered. Thanksgiving? “Thankful for what?” she wondered. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child?

“Good afternoon, can I help you?” The flower shop clerk’s approach startled her. “Sorry,” said Jenny, “I just didn’t want you to think I was ignoring you.” “I . . . . I need an arrangement.” “For Thanksgiving?” Sandra nodded. “Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the ‘Thanksgiving Special’?” Jenny saw Sandra’s curiosity and continued. “I’m convinced that flowers tell stories, that each arrangement insinuates a particular feeling. Are you looking for something that conveys gratitude this Thanksgiving?” “Not exactly!” Sandra blurted. “Sorry, but in the last five months, everything that could go wrong has.”

Sandra regretted her outburst but was surprised when Jenny said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.” The door’s small bell suddenly rang. “Barbara, hi!” Jenny said. She politely excused herself from Sandra and walked toward a small workroom. She quickly reappeared carrying a massive arrangement of green bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses. Only, the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped, no flowers. “Want this in a box?” Jenny asked. Sandra watched for Barbara’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems and no flowers! She waited for laughter, for someone to notice the absence of flowers atop the thorny stems, but neither woman did. “Yes, please. It’s exquisite.” said Barbara. “You’d think after three years of getting the special, I’d not be so moved by its significance, but it’s happening again. My family will love this one. Thanks.”

As the customer left Jenny asked the florist about the significance of that particular arrangement. The florist explained that that was the Thanksgiving special. Jenny could not believe anyone would pay for that. “Well,” she continued, “Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very much like you feel today. She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she faced major surgery.” “Ouch!” said Sandra. “That same year, I lost my husband. I assumed complete responsibility for the shop and for the first time, spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.” “What did you do?” “I learned to be thankful for thorns.” Sandra’s eyebrows lifted. “Thorns?”

“I’m a Christian, Sandra. I’ve always thanked God for good things in life and I never thought to ask Him why good things happened to me. But, when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time to learn that dark times are important. I always enjoyed the flowers of life but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.” Sandra gasped. “A friend read that passage to me and I was furious! I guess the truth is, I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.”

With that Jenny ordered her own  Thanksgiving Thorn Bouquet with a pledge to work on healing her heart. With that the florist encouraged her and said the first years arrangement is always free.

What a great story! It portrays so many things that i can be thankful for because it all makes me who I am today.

-Author Unknown

Before i close i have to share a personal experience from yesterday. As i arrived at the Onething Campus i prayed and said that i would be happy if just one of the churches would have paid there rent early. It’s actually due on Wednesday but things are a little tight. As i unlocked the drop box i saw a check folded up on the bottom of the box.  i was so delighted! Thank you God!! i reached in with great anticipation and unfolded it, literally, thanking God again as i did. i looked at the check… (pause) and i thought really…? The check was from our smallest renter. i was looking for a much bigger check than this one. In fact this one does not help at all. i realized that suddenly i wasn’t quite as thankful. Got what I asked for but not what i intended. my bad!

In closing 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says,“ed, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It is my plan to purchase my own bouquet of thorns and put them in a prominent place where i will be reminded to give thanks in all circumstances.

Destiny Dice…?

Posted: November 22, 2013 in Podcasts, Wandering Thoughts

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i want answers! When i can’t find them for myself i begin searching.

i shared yesterday about “The Book of Answers” and today i’m continuing in that same vein. At the same time that i bought the book, i also found another option for people. This option is called “Destiny Dice.” You heard me right, “Destiny Dice.” i think the name explains the purpose. Remember i found these things while trying to figure out why people wouldn’t want the best thing i had to offer them, which was the Word. Now i had three options in my arsenal. You might say i have some version of Good, Better, and Best. Best being the Word of God.

The Book of Answers offered a quick and easy way to get an answer but both the publisher and the author made it clear that they accepted no responsibility for the advice offered nor the results or lack of.

With “Destiny Dice” you just give them a throw and then read what comes up and act accordingly. Do i really want to leave my destiny up to a roll of the dice? So if people don’t want the word which is the best I have they can choose between the “Book of Answers” or a roll of the “Destiny Dice”. I think this plays out in these posts. i find that i get many more comments and likes when i do the light easy stuff, the socially acceptable, the sounds like fun, verse just sharing the truth word as it is unveiled to me.

In the book Sacred Romance, it says that the problem with most of us is that we live our lives like a movie that we’ve arrived at twenty minutes late. The action is well under way and we haven’t a clue what’s happening.

The questions flood in, Who are these people? Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? Why are they doing that? What’s going on? It’s so annoying when people come in that have been in the church for years or more importantly in relationship with God and yet have no clue. i know that my task is to get over it just as God does with me, because truth be told, in God’s big picture i have no clue, yet, He still speaks to me, teaches me and meets me right where i am.

How many times is my identity defined in my circumstances. Sometimes those circumstances are terrible and other times they are wonderful. Those two things, terrible and wonderful compete for my attention, my emotions and my feelings. i used to live with an expectation of one or the other. If i’m happy and things are going well i’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

In both of these options i am allowing for my situations and my circumstances to be explanations or interpretations of who i am and where i’m going. But the truth is, they are just reference points.     

i am finding out that there’s a story that is bigger than i have, or could imagine. It’s bigger than my life and no pat answer book or rolling a pair of dice is going to help me experience the Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

If i’m looking how to be a success, how to be a better speaker, how to write the next best seller, how to win friends and influence people, i can find that in anyone of thousands of books. If i’m willing to roll the dice and take a chance i may actually win once in a while. But if i’m looking for a witness to my life, there is only one place that will provide it with a lasting, fulfilling eternal certainty. God has promised to care about everything, my so called good things, my so called bad things, my so called terrible things and my so called mundane things. All of it, all the time, every day. He says that my life will not go unnoticed because He will notice it. He says my life will not go unwitnessed because He will witness it.

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Years ago i realized that not everyone wanted to hear the Word of God in response to a circumstance or situation they were going through or facing. At the time there were plenty of people around me who were not afraid to tell me so and not on their behalf but on behalf of others. i have felt for a very long time that the best i have to offer anyone in any situation is the Word of God. It has not always been received that way and in many cases you would have thought i was handing out the plague. It was during that period of my life, while shopping one day I found, The Book of Answers by Carol Bolt.

When I opened it the first page says, Hyperion and the author of this book take no credit or responsibility for what “The Book of Answers” advises or the results thereof. Now that’s says, a lot right there. Imagine Jesus saying that about His book. Here I am sharing pages from a book that comes with a guarantee of the results and takes full responsibility for what it advises and people aren’t interested. But this book… was a hit.

The second page is filled with instructions on how to use “The Book of Answers.”

1. Hold the closed book in your hand, on your lap, or on a table.

2. Take 10 or 15 seconds to concentrate on your question. Questions should be phrased closed-end, “Is the job i’m applying for the right one?” or “Should I travel this weekend?”

3. While visualizing or speaking your question (one question at a time), place one hand palm down on the book’s front cover and stroke the edge of the pages, back to front.

4. When you sense the time is right, open the book and there will be your answer.

Enough of that. From there on except for the very last page which houses the acknowledgements, there are about 200 pages of so-called answers.

How do we get to the place where we would come to buy this book and actually live our lives through it? The answer is simple and no i’m not getting this answer from the book. Many are not able to come to their own understanding so they turn to other things and places. i understand, i’ve been in that place.

PAUSE: while i’m preparing this post i get a phone call from someone very close to us. They share that they need to vent. No problem vent away. They proceed to tell me that the new meds they’re on are causing them to be cloudy and it’s frustrating them. They want to get the right meds and be done with it, now, today! After some listening and two-sided discussion i shared about this post and the book. As i was hanging up i gave them an example by asking this question to the book, “is so and so on the right track? Open The book and it says, “Your actions will improve things,” we both laughed and agreed that the “answer” was valid yet not all that helpful.

i told them i was going to use this example, so i have permission. i know that firing off a half a dozen verses was not what they were looking for. They wanted and actually said they wanted a “clear head,” some “clear thoughts” but most of all, someone to listen while they expressed their dissatisfaction with the situation.

Okay, i left off with sometimes we are able to come to our own understanding so we turn to other things and places. The people or places we turn to are usually the people who are most visible in our lives. Our parents or grandparents, our neighbors or those we work with or attend church with.

The problem is that if that’s how we live life regularly, our life just becomes an extension of the people who surround us and have influence over us. i may find myself settling for advice and opinion.

Opinion: a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.

i can find myself settling for a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty. Thus “The Book of Answers.”

I can lose my identity! i become a creature of circumstance. i become a creature of habit. i become a creature of survival. Eventually i become a self-made victim.

For me there is only one Book of Answers and it wasn’t written by Carol Bolt. i will continue to offer the best that i have from the word of God. Romans 15:3-5 says, “That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next.”

Let me close today by going back to Verse 1 and 2 of Romans 15. “Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us (like handing them “The Book of Answers”). Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”

Nothing personal toward Carol Bolt but you’ll only get a cheap imitation of this from “The Book of Answers.” “How Can I Help” by sharing a book called “The Word of God.”

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Monday was “Nothing.” Tuesday was “How Do I Know?” And today is “Not in the mood.” What exactly am I saying? Is it a good thing or a bad thing. How long will it last and where did it come from?

Wikipedia says that, “my mood is an emotional state. But my moods differ from emotions in that moods are less specific, less intense, and less likely to be triggered by a particular stimulus or event.” That is such a relief! Now I don’t have to figure out why i’m not in the mood. Wikipedia also says that “my moods generally have either a positive or negative valence. In other words, people typically speak of being in a good mood or a bad mood.” That’s not the case as far as i can tell at this point. i am neither feeling good nor bad… just not in the mood. At this point many would just chalk it up to this or that and let it go, but no not me.

my mood differs from temperament or personality traits which last longer. There are cases of long-term disturbances of mood such as clinical depression and bipolar disorder and they are considered mood disorders. my mood is an internal, subjective state but it can be seen or sensed by others from my posture and other behaviors.

It’s said that sleep or more specifically lack of can be an influencing factor in my mood. If i am sleep deprived I may become more irritable, angry, more prone to stress, and less energized throughout the day. Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that “subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When the subjects resumed normal sleep, they reported a dramatic improvement in mood.” This could have some substance as recently I willingly decided that I needed more hours in my day so I began getting up 3 hours earlier and then as we prayed for additional income we got a catering job that requires that I get up even earlier on those days. I am quite sure my body has not physically nor mentally made the full adjustment and thus it could be a part of my “not being in the mood.”

I could go into the details of “Bad Moods” versus “Good Moods” but as i said this doesn’t feel like that and trust me i have experienced both of them plenty of times in the past. No this is just simply “Not in the Mood.” I’m not angry, disappointed or frustrated with anyone or anything. That would require me to be in the mood and i’m not so it can’t be any of that. On the other hand i am not jumping for joy, excited or chomping at the bit to do something. Again that would require me to be in the mood.

Okay, “not in the mood” needs a little more, like the question what? What, am i not in the mood for? Well… i’m not in the mood to be here today, but i’m not in the mood to go home either, or anywhere else for that matter. i’m not in the mood to do the post and podcast today, yet here i am doing it, without anyone twisting my arm. i’m not in the mood to listen to music, but it has been playing in the background all morning, and… i could just reach over and turn it off, but i’m not in the mood so it plays on.

So for how long can one be, “not be in the mood?” Am i to search for a cure as though this is a sickness or something to be cured? Or do i just embrace it as “where i am” for this moment?

i found information as to what to do with a bad mood but nothing for a “Not in the Mood.” Psychologists say that if i were in a bad mood, i could instantly lift my spirits by forcing myself to smile. Numerous amounts of research studies have shown that making a facial expression, such as smiling, can produce effects on the body that are similar to those that result from the actual emotion, such as happiness. i’m not completely sure that forcing myself to smile will change anything in this case but i have nothing to lose so imagine a big smile on my face right now. Nope, i’m still “Not in the Mood.”

i know… i haven’t come to any conclusion.  “Not in the mood.” i get it, no conclusion as to whether it’s okay for me to be “not in the mood,” or do i have an issue that demands attention. J.D. Salinger author of The Catcher in the Rye says, “If you’re not in the mood, you can’t do that stuff right.” Maybe he’s right, i certainly don’t want to not do my stuff… whatever it is right. Look i wouldn’t want to live in this place everyday but maybe i just need some down time, or better yet some catch my breath time. Time that isn’t filled with good or bad but time that is filled with His grace. Sometimes that grace allows me to endure and other times it allows me to enjoy. Either way it’s His grace.

So here’s what i’m going to do. First i’ll keep forcing myself to smile and then i’m going to follow Robert McKee’s advice, He says, “When we want mood experiences, we go to concerts or museums.  When we want meaningful emotional experience, we go to the storyteller.”  The best story-teller i know is a man called Jesus.

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i’ve heard this over and over, and have said it myself as well, “i’ve struggled with trying to hear God’s voice concerning my future and where he wants me. i’ve searched for His direction and all i really want to do is His will. The problem is, i feel like i’ve had no response. What am i missing or doing wrong?

i don’t claim to have all the answers but, i can share from my experiences in dealing with these questions. Sometimes i’ve  made it hard. What i mean by that is sometimes i was “too spiritual” to hear what was actually in black and white and right in front of me. Example, as i was working a job and raising my children i used to constantly ask God about what he wanted me to do with my life.

Long after my children were raised i came to the conclusion that what He wanted me to do with my life at that time was work and raise my children. Earning a living and paying bills on time is important. Investing in my son’s and daughter’s character and godly upbringing was the highest item on God’s priority list for me. God was very practical and His will was clearer than i recognized.

So, now when asked by someone about knowing God’s will i tell them that the first question to ask themselves is, what are their current responsibilities and what is their life situation? Are they married? God wants men to be fabulous, loving husbands. If they have children, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). Nothing will have greater significance. Do i have elderly parents? If so help and assist them through their end of life.

An old saying says, “Bloom where you are planted.” That means, right where i am is filled with plenty of God’s will for my life. However, there are times when I’ve been at a crossroads and i could go several directions. In those instances i want to know which way is God’s choice.

In those times i need to look at what my natural giftings and desires are? i have things that i am good at, things that i have a passion for, or have some natural ability for. Early in my life i learned to not skip past these gifts but to develop them. Ann Marie went to a seminar one time and they told her to do what she enjoyed doing and then find a way to make a living at it. Looking for something harder or more complicated in order to serve God may just complicate the process or plan that He has already equipped me for.

When it comes to ministry, it is important to understand my spiritual gifts because that’s the area where God probably wishes to use me. Reading the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Romans 12:6-8 and Ephesians 4:11 give us an idea of the value of the gifts that Christ gives to the Body of Christ. i have taken many gift assessment tests which have helped me identify the unique way God gifted me.

So…as i continue to search for God’s direction, i ask myself what do i LIKE to do? my career choice should match that and ministry may also involve that same thing. If i get along well with teens, then that’s a natural and maybe i should volunteer to help with Youth. i need to experience several of these possible passions by volunteering until something really hits home.

Sometimes other people have seen me much clearer than i have seen myself. i am never afraid to ask others what they think about me doing this or that. Get input from a few friends, the pastor or other church leadership, see what they see as your spiritual gifts.

Many people say that in asking God for direction they feel they have had no response. It’s during those times that i feel that God is silent because He’s saying, “ed you decide this one for yourself.” This is a silly example but i don’t need to ask God whether to go to the grocery store if the refrigerator is empty – i am to just go.

Now that I’ve said all that, i should be hearing God’s voice on a regular basis. God desires it; he is not trying to withhold himself from me and he does not delight in my frustration or confusion. God is speaking all the time but i need to learn to tune in to his frequency.

God speaks to me through His Word, through others, though my dreams, and most quite often through my circumstances. He also speaks to me directly in a still small voice right into my heart. Learning to tune out all the distractions and distinguish HIS voice verses my own voice or the voice of the enemy of my soul is possible and highly desirable.

A good way to begin is through journaling. Journaling is a spiritual exercise whereby you write out your thoughts, questions to God, and impressions from scripture and then also leave time for stillness and listening. Posting these blogs do that for me.

It’s up to me to still myself before the Lord and focus on Him. As i do i sense his heart and hear his voice. How do i avoid mistakes? First i slow down and don’t let so-called “once in a lifetime opportunities” rush me. i give time to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and ask for his help as i work through the process. i can also ask spiritually mature disciples to read my journaling as they can help me distinguish voices. A big one for me is to compare what i’ve write down as God’s voice against God’s Word. If it doesn’t match it’s not God’s voice. He never contradicts Himself or His written Word.

In closing, rely on God’s promise. “…and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. And a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:4-5)

Nothing…?

Posted: November 18, 2013 in Wandering Thoughts
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Nothing is a pronoun denoting the absence of anything. In nontechnical uses, nothing denotes things lacking importance, interest, value, relevance, or significance. Nothing the state of nonexistence.

That’s what I have today. An absence of anything of importance, interest, value, relevance or significance. That’s not to say that i don’t have material to post about, i certainly do. There’s the outline that i had planned on using for the rest of the year, about how i was going to finish strong. There’s another 5 days of material where i was going to share about Enoch. And then there’s at least 10 days of material regarding renewing the mind, but none of it seems important or of significance. Technically it’s all of value and has relevance but at this moment it’s of no interest to me. Therefore “nothing.”

So do i just post something because i can, i should, or i must? i think not so how about if i post today about “nothing?”

As i was speaking to someone this morning and sharing about my apparent dilemma i told them that i could do just that, post about nothing. The television show Sienfeld, one of the most successful, went for years, it’s claim to fame was that it was a show about, nothing. There are over a hundred thousand rating of William Shakespeares book titled, “Much Ado About Nothing.” So surely i can post one day, about “nothing,” and i’ll try to do it without much ado!

Jarod Kintz said, “Nothing, Everything, Anything, Something: If you have nothing, then you have everything, because you have the freedom to do anything, without the fear of losing something.”

Some would consider the study or posting of “nothing” to be foolish. However, “nothingness” has been treated as a serious subject worthy of research for a long time. In philosophy, to avoid linguistic traps over the meaning of “nothing”, a phrase such as not-being is often used to indirectly make clear what is being discussed.

Early western philosophers considered nothing as a concept and argued that “nothing” cannot exist by the following line of reasoning: To speak of a thing, one has to speak of a thing that exists. It could be argued that “nothing” is a concept, and since concepts are things, the concept of “nothing” itself is a thing.

There is an error in this type of non-sense as demonstrated by the following, called, the fallacy of four terms:

  1. The Devil is greater than nothing.
  2. No-thing is greater than God.
  3. Therefore, the Devil is greater than God.

The four terms in this example are God, the Devil, nothing-as-a-thing that the Devil is greater than, and nothing as no-thing or not-some-thing (there does not exist something that is greater than God). The error in the conclusion comes from equating nothing-as-a-thing with no-thing which are not the same thing.

Many have an opinion about “nothing.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne said,  “To do nothing is the way to be nothing.”

Ayn Rand said, “If you write a line of zeroes, it´s still nothing.”

How about this from Jarod Kintz, “If I can delay your action with my inaction, then I’ll gladly do nothing for the good of the no good.”

There you have it, just over six hundred words about nothing… or… is it about nothing? i’ll leave you with the following quote as my spiritual input for this post today. It may require more than one reading and a bit of thought to get what it means. It’s from Margaret Atwood who said this about “nothing,” “More powerful than God, more evil than the Devil; the poor have it, the rich lack it, and if you eat it you die?”

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Doing my best doesn’t just happen. It must be intentional. i begin by having a plan for making small, but consistent improvements each day and thus that is MEASURE #14.

Being the best isn’t about knowing the most. Being the best is about confidently admitting i don’t know it all, while embracing every opportunity to learn and grow from the wisdom of others and through circumstances. i need to have confidence in my ability to learn, not in the amount of information i already know. i must remember that wisdom comes from gaining knowledge and experience over the course of time – not a day or a week – but over a lifetime.

Wanting to do my best, means becoming proficient at what i do. Here‘s a few things i consider and am working towards:

  • Despise not small beginnings.
  • Don’t be satisfied with Good or Better.
  • Never stop learning.
  • Outwork everyone.
  • Serve.
  • By the end of the day make sure i am a better person than when it started.

Small consistent improvements of the above each and every day allows me to be the best that i can be each and every day. Let me expand on these small consistent improvements.

Despise not small beginnings:

It’s amazing to me to see how many people think certain jobs are beneath them. i guess it’s alright for them, so long as they understand that as long as certain kinds of work is beneath them so will certain grades of pay be beneath them.

Then there are those who have the idea that they have already “paid their dues,” or who have “not-in- my-pay grade” syndrome. i am always willing to roll up my sleeves and “chip in” and help others finish the task.

Don’t overestimate myself:

One of the saddest moments i’ve experienced is having a conversation with someone who once was “all that,” but who now has decided to live off of his or her previous successes. In many cases these types of people have one year of experience at this or that, and then just repeated it over and over? I understand that past accomplishments are merely a foundation for what i am currently doing.

Never Stop Learning:

When i meet people, the number-one thing i try to discern is whether they possess personal integrity. The second thing i try to discern is are they teachable. A teachable spirit is one of the most important traits leading to success in life. Basically, it is an attitude that drives the individual to find out the “why” and “how” of things, rather than just the “what.” One tool to discern this attitude is to ask, “what’s the  most interesting book or article you’ve read recently.”

Outwork Everyone:

It’s said that, “the only place you’ll find “success” before “work” is in the dictionary. It’s sad to say this, but it is such a treat these days to come across someone who really knows how to work. The following poem says it all. The heights by great men, reached and kept, Were not achieved by sudden flight. But they, while their companions slept, Were toiling upward in the night. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Serve Others:

The great philosopher and physician, Albert Schweitzer said, “The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”

That says it all.

By the end of the day make sure i am a better person than when it started:

Let me share a secret that i’ve found useful when it comes to taking on big projects – such as changing my life. The secret is, take life one step at a time. i don’t need to conquer the world today, but my small consistent improvements will surely make me better at the end of the day than when i started.

This all takes discipline. Discipline that many are not willing to apply and thus at the end of the day, week or even year they will be exactly the same or even worse than when they began. That’s why i continually remind myself that i must do today what others will not so that tomorrow i can do what others can not.

MEASURE #14 is this, Start right now, whether you have to make the plan or whether you have to implement the plan, regardless the goal is for small, consistent improvements and to that, i say “yes!”

Prior to reading or listening to this post or podcast there is a short 1 minute video regarding this idea of doing my best. Please click that link first and then come back to the post to read or listen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xn9tt0zgY9E

PLEASE CLICK THE PLAYER OR THE LINK TO LISTEN.

Good, Better, Best, never let it rest, till your Good is the Better and your Better is the Best.

Og Mandino said, “Always  do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.”

Something happened the other day that reminded me of doing my best. It’s been a month ago when i shared about how foolish i felt after forgetting a catering event and the potential of 50 people standing outside of the building expecting breakfast, was not going to to as expected. i shared in that post about a woman who came in a few minutes early and after i share my dilemma she volunteered to help in any way i would like. She was the woman who went to the local Dunkin Donuts for me.

Yesterday we gave away the final donuts left in the freezer from that event. Today she came in and handed me some money and explained, “when you asked me to get donuts i doubled your request thinking that it wasn’t going to be enough and ever since then i have felt terrible for taking the money for my poor discission, so i’m returning it today.

i tried to convince her otherwise but nothing i said was changing her mind. She said, “it was a heart issue and that she had to be the best person she knew how to be and that she had felt terrible ever since.” i then understood that her returning the money was the only option. Here’s the amazing part, i had been sitting there working on this weeks posts about Good, Better, Best.

Vanessa  Kerry said, “One of the things I’ve learned is that when you fight for something you believe in  and you tell the truth and you do your best, you can always hold your head up  high and no one can take that away from you.

This woman wanted to hold her head up high. In-spite of my trying to make light of it and trying to convince her that there was no need to repay the money she would have no part of it, she was telling the truth, and doing her best.

i am learning to recognize the reality that just because something is good, is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things i can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Also true is the fact that some things are better than good, and these things deserve more attention in my life. But then there are the best things that should out-weigh any other options.

Perhaps this story will help? A childhood experience introduced a now elderly man to the idea that some choices are good but others are better. He lived for two years on a farm. He rarely went to town. His Christmas shopping was done in the Sears, Roebuck catalog. He spent hours poring over its pages. For the rural families of that day, catalog pages were like the shopping mall or the Internet of our time.

Something about some displays of merchandise in the catalog fixed itself in his mind. There were three degrees of quality: good, better, and best. For example, some men’s shoes were labeled good ($1.84), some better ($2.98), and some best ($3.45).    1

Today as he considers various choices, he remembers that it is not enough that something is good. He is still very much aware that other choices are better, and still others are best. Even though a particular choice is more costly, it’s far greater value may make it the best choice of all.

In closing… Whether it’s in regard to my actions or my words… Best: is of the highest quality, excellence, or standing. Best is most advantageous, suitable, or desirable.

PLEASE CLICK ON PLAYER OR LINK TO LISTEN.

Good, Better, Best, never let it rest, Till your Good is the Better and your Better is the Best.

It seems like there is always one post that is odd or different in nature from all the rest even though it is in regards to the same topic. Today is that post. While all the other posts talk about doing or being at my best today’s post is about finding my BEST ideas. Today’s post contains more research information then spiritual application but i found it interesting so please, bear with me. If you don’t care for this kind of post perhaps you could change your mind and everything will change. Find some value, some nugget in the information. Stop counting the cost of having listened to what your currently viewing as worthless. By the closing of this post i found several elements to be thankful for, hot showers being one.

i’m in the shower, mindlessly scrubbing my toes when—bam!—a prophetic thought pops into my head. Maybe i finally solve that glitch bugging me on my computer, pad or smart phone. That’s the glitch right there, too much electronics. Maybe i learn something terribly more important. The meaning of life, perhaps.

Those aha! moments aren’t locked inside my bottle of shampoo. It would seem that the shower creates the perfect conditions for a creative flash, drawing out my inner genius, so to speak.

Research actually shows i’m more likely to have a creative epiphany when i’m doing something monotonous, like fishing, exercising, or showering. Since these  routines don’t require much thought, my mind flips to autopilot. This frees up my unconscious to work on something else. my mind goes wandering, leaving my brain to quietly play a no-holds-barred game of free thoughts.

Ideas i have in the shower are so different from the ideas i have at work. Thinking hard about a problem deactivates my default thought process. This isn’t a bad thing—it allows me to focus and gives me the strength to stop day dreaming and hit the deadline. But it can also trap me. When i’m deeply focused on a task, my brain is more likely to censor unconventional, and creative, solutions… and who am i to disagree with the researchers

Strange as it sounds, my brain is not most active when i’m focused on a task. Research shows it’s more active when i let go of the controls and  allow it to wander. Shelley Carson at Harvard found that highly creative people share one amazing  trait, they’re easily distracted. And, that’s the beauty of a warm shower. It  distracts me. It makes me defocus. It lets my brain roam.

But what makes the shower different from a boring board meeting? Doesn’t my  mind wander there, too?

Well, yeah. i have the scribbles to prove it. But a  shower is relaxing. It’s a small, safe, enclosed space. i feel comfortable there. On top of that, i’m alone. It may be the only alone time i get all day. It’s my chance to get away from the outside.

When i’m that relaxed, my brain releases everyone’s favorite happy-go-lucky neurotransmitter, dopamine. A flush of dopamine boosts my  creative juices. More alpha waves will also ripple through my brain. Alphas accompany my brain’s daydreamy default setting and encourages creative fireworks.

Wait! There’s more! The time i shower, also plays into the equation. Most wash up either in the morning or at night, when we’re most tired. According to the journal Thinking  and Reasoning, that’s our creative peak. The groggy morning fog weakens my brain’s censors, keeping me from blocking the irrelevant, distracting thoughts that make great ideas possible.

There you have it. i’m distracted, relaxed, and tired. The shower creates the perfect storm  for my BEST ideas.

PLEASE CLICK ON PLAYER OR LINK TO LISTEN.

Laura Ingalls Wilder says, “Every job is good if you do your best and work hard. A man who works hard stinks only  to the ones that have nothing to do but smell.”

If you read these posts with any regularity you’ll know that i refer to something i call the “flip side.” It’s the other side of what i’m sharing, usually it’s the negative side or effects of something. So would the “flip side” of Good, Better, Best, never let it rest till your Good is the Better and your Better is the Best, be, Bad, Worse, Worst, never let it rest till you bad is worse and your worse is the worst?

No! i’m not going there, just throwing out the thought. Sometime in the future i or you will be making a decision about whether to do something Good, Better or Best and i or you will remember the Bad, Worse, Worst and it will encourage us to make the wiser choice or at leas smile.

There are some things that i know about myself and when i do my best.

i do my best when i do what God wants me to do, in words and actions.

i do my best by challenging the way i did things yesterday.

i do my best when i’m part of the solution instead of the problem. W.  Edwards Deming said, “It  is not enough to do your best, you must know what to do, and then do your  best.”

i do my best by expecting nothing less than my best.

i do my best by giving away the credit (especially if i crave it).

i do my best by practicing my gifts so i become skilled in using them. Daniel Defoe says, “The soul is placed in the body like a rough diamond, and must be polished, or the luster of it will never appear”

i do my best by eliminating excuses and taking responsibility.

i do my best by getting up when i’ve been knocked down.

i do my best by allowing my passion to see action. Maya Angelou says, “Nothing will work unless you do.”

i do my best by keeping my promises, to others and to myself.

i do my best by showing integrity.

i do my best by delivering more than what was expect.

i do my best by making time to refresh and refill my inner spirit.

i do my best by having a strong foundation in the Word. Albert Einstein said, “There are two ways to live your life – one is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle.”

i do my best by training my mind like a pro athlete. Thomas Edison said, “If we did all the things we are capable of doing,
we would literally astound ourselves.”

i do my best by doing tasks that make a difference and inspire others to do the same. Norman Vincent Peale says, “If you have zest and enthusiasm you attract zest and enthusiasm. Life does give back in kind.”

i do my best by serving others even when it’s at great cost to me.

In closing… i have to let go of  some GOOD things in order to choose others that are BETTER, then i have to let go of some BETTER things for the BEST, because the BEST, my BEST, develops faith in God.