Thursday, June 28, 2012


Remember the days when teachers took attendance expecting the student response, "Present!"? These days a teacher calling the attendance roll might be lucky enough to get a student who cheerfully answers, "Here!" Working in a school I have noticed students responding to their attendance name call in a variety of ways, many respectful, but often with a bored, matter-of-fact, let's-just-get-this-over-with attitude. How often do you and I approach life that way? Are we truly "present" as we interact with people? Do our families and loved ones really have our attention or are we projecting an attitude that says, "Let's just get this over with. I have something else I'd rather be doing"?

I'll be honest with you. I am pretty tired today and it's hard to be "present" even as I write this.  Yet, this day is just as sacred as any other. If I "check out" while in conversation with those around me, what will I miss and what will I be communicating to them about their value? I understand that we all need a little slack sometimes. Today is definitely one of those days for me! However, I don't want to use fatigue as an excuse to devalue those around me and brush off their concerns. They deserve the best I can give, even if I am not my best.

That's it, short and sweet. Be present. Each day is a gift and each person a unique and valuable creation of God. Is there any better reason to be "present"?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Transit Perspective

' "You see the bigger picture" when you look through the telescope at the heavens, he said. "You don't get so stressed out by living when you realize that we're just this little speck in space." ' That quote was taken from a USA Today article about the many people who took the time and effort to watch the recent Transit of Venus across the sun. The gentleman quoted was identified as a neurosurgeon. What a perspective to have when you are responsible for people's lives! What a perspective to offer them as they face whatever difficulties have brought them to a neurosurgeon.
Years ago I remember my two older children coming home from elementary school in the middle of an argument. Evidently, they had started arguing on the bus and the whole bus heard about it. Of course, I can't remember a thing about the argument now, and if I asked them they probably wouldn't remember it at all.  I was mortified at the time, so disappointed and embarrassed that they would have it out in a public place rather than keeping it quiet and talking, or fighting, about it at home.  I saw it as a reflection on my parenting and felt like a total failure. But as I thought it over and prayed as best as I could in the midst of my mortification, I had a mental picture of the whole earth and then the picture zoomed down until it was a picture of my kids on the bus. Suddenly, the whole thing didn't seem like such a big deal. We talked about it and then it was over.
So often as we face our daily difficulties, or even our larger, more profound difficulties,we get "stressed out". The issue that is troubling us can seem like the most important thing in the world at that moment. Maybe it would be good to keep a photo of the Transit of Venus somewhere to remind us of the larger perspective.
My recent difficulties have not been the kind that put one in "survival mode", although I have experienced those as well. Whether in "survival mode" or daily inconveniences, over the years I have learned to remember that in the larger picture of life these things are just a small speck in transit.  Whatever trial I am going through will come to an end, even the ones that have seemed to last for years. At the very end, when my life is over, my life will be that little speck in transit. Then the transit will be over and I will have a permanent Home elsewhere. Keeping that in mind helps me keep the difficulties of my life in transit perspective.

Dear One, whatever you are going through right now is a speck in transit. I don't mean to minimize your difficulty. A life-threatening illness or financial catastrophe caused by job loss or a fluctuating stock market are not small troubles, nor are the emotional difficulties of strained relationships or personal loss. What I mean to say is that when you and I keep a transit perspective on the larger and smaller difficulties of life it helps us to pass through them knowing that there will be an end and to keep that end in view rather than the trouble of the moment.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cliff Hanging

I am a cliff hanger. I know that we usually think of cliffhangers as stories without resolution meant to draw you back for the next installment. No, I don't mean that kind of cliffhanger.

When it is time for me to embark on a new adventure, I tend to stand on the cliff looking over the edge and try to evaluate the situation. I am a thinker. I am not a " ready, shoot, aim" person. I want to look before I leap. I want to know where I'm going to land. The difficulty is that usually when you are standing on the cliff, there is a lot of mist at the bottom and you can't really evaluate what kind of landing you are going to make.

I recently made a jump I'd been trying to evaluate for....well, a long time. Maybe you have experienced a nagging feeling that there is something you are supposed to do. As a Christian, when I feel that way I try to determine if that nagging feeling is the still, small voice of God. Over time I became convinced that in this case it was. But in this situation, I basically tried to talk God out of it. Maybe you've done that, too. When the nagging feeling didn't go away, I determined that it really was God and He wasn't giving up. So, even though I don't really know where I am going to land, I made the jump and obeyed that still, small voice.

The thing about it is that once I went ahead and began the process, "made the jump", a lot of my waffling and attempts to make excuses for not doing it seemed to disappear. I am confident that I jumped off the right cliff, so to speak, and that wherever I land will be the right place at the right time.

Sometimes you just have to jump into new things. When you get right down to it, the reason that I wasn't willing to jump was lack of trust. A lack of trust in my ability to follow through in what God was asking me was not really the problem. At the core, my unwillingness to jump was a lack of trust in God Himself. If He is asking me to do something, to jump off the cliff, then He's got to have the landing all figured out even though I can't see it, right? When I land, I'll tell you more about the trip.

Are you hanging onto a cliff right now? If you are, what is your reason for not making the jump? I can tell you from experience that once you commit yourself and get airborne, the view is going to be awesome. So stop hanging onto the cliff and enjoy the ride!