I try not to engage in too much scrutinizing of past events and actions. People who are wiser than I say that such scrutinizing will only lead into an ever tightening spiral of self absorption. We need to keep our gaze fixed on the here and now; today, with an occasional glance up to the future so we know we are still on course. When exceptional events occur we should make note of contributing factors in the log book, but we should not obsess over them.
While wallowing in the past can be detrimental to mental health, this is one day; New Years Day, when I make it a tradition to go back over my notes and review the things I’ve done, the results of those actions, and how I may be able to build upon – or avoid repeating – said results in the future. Knowing how I got to where I am helps me know how to get where I want to be… assuming I know where I want to be. Continue reading “Goal Setting and Hindsight”
Do you have a dream? Yes, you do. You may answer in the negative because your dream has become buried under so many layers of life that you’ve lost track of it, but everyone has a dream: an aspiration, a goal of some sort. For some, the dream may be grandiose: “I want to be an NBA superstar”, for others the dream may be simply to have a stable family and a nice home where they can all be content. I have had a number of aspirations during my life; I’ve pursued several careers in different fields but through them all has been the desire – the need – to teach.
Even as a kid, I remember my sister and I setting up a play school and inviting the neighborhood kids to attend. Looking back, it boggles my mind that those youngsters chose to spend their summer vacations – at least an hour of each day – attending a pretend school! Continue reading “Pursue the Dream”
Sometimes we find ourselves wishing things could be the way they were. However “the way they were” did not last very long. Whatever past circumstances we long for were temporary at best. Nostalgia is a fickle feeling. It can give us pleasant thoughts about days gone by and yet it can cause us to be so unrealistic about the past that we penalize our present and our future. Time moves on and change is inevitable. The “good old days” are but a memory of a time when we thought we had less stress and strain. We tend to forget the complications of life back then because present complications overshadow anything that ever has been. In an attempt to escape the painful perplexities of today we try to reconstruct yesterday according to how we wish it had been.
Even though things never were exactly the way we think they were, we must never stop making beautiful memories. It may be out of the way we think things were that we find the motivation to create a tomorrow in the way we want it to be. In this manner our memories are closely connected to our dreams. Perhaps the only way we can construct our dreams is by remembering the way we wish things had been.
Therefore, as we long for the “good old days”, we can actually prepare ourselves for a better “new day” if we understand that every day has its share of hopes and horrors. The key is to be realistically aware that today we are making memories for the future. Yesterday is but a reminder that today contains the ingredients for a healthier tomorrow.
The major focus of our lives needs to be on the present. It is the only time we have. We cannot honestly reconstruct the past nor can we accurately produce the future. “Today is the day of salvation. Now is the accepted time.” Forgiveness and grace as well as beautiful memories enable us to live with our past. The kind of hope that produces a positive attitude enables us to move graciously into the future. It is the disposition of the present moment that controls our appraisal of both.
Let us, therefore, never minimize this present breath of life, this existing heartbeat of love, and this moment of consciousness. Indeed the psalmist gave us great insight when he wrote, “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Everyone knows that stress is a bad thing. Too much stress leads to many health problems and can be a major contributor to a seriously shortened life span. Stress also tends to take the joy out of our lives. Attempting to eliminate stress is a fruitless task because stress is a natural by-product of our modern lives. If we are attempting to make a living, pay our bills, feed our family, keep up with all the goings-ons of our family and friends, stress will result. Even if we become mega-millionaires and retire to a beach in Maui to sip margaritas for the rest of our lives, stress will search us out. So, if we can not avoid it, we must learn to manage it. Fortunately, that is not as hard as we might think. We may still have deadlines to meet, and writer’s block to climb over, and writing to do, but if we can get the anxiety under control, all that will be easier to deal with too. Here are come of my favorite ways to defuse the time-bomb of stress. Continue reading “How to Defuse the Stress Time Bomb”
There is a Sabbath principle in life that must be observed if we are to be healthy and productive. It simply means that we cannot work nonstop without some time to recover our emotional and physical stamina. We cannot endure long periods of stress without some wholesome diversion. Our human physique has many limitations which requires periods of rest and relaxation. God made us this way. When He rested on the seventh day of creation, He punctuated the Sabbath principle for all His creatures. The fact that we have night and day, sunshine and rain, summer and winter reminds us that there is a time to work and a time to rest. This law of God is carved into the cycle of the seasons. How well have we learned it?
In our scientific world where nature no longer restricts our work, we tend to ignore the Sabbath principle. We fail to listen to the alarm system within our own weary bodies and, in so doing, we bankrupt our souls before our years are spent. Insecurity and greed have sent us on an exhausting search for that pot of gold at the end of a very demanding rainbow. We are often overwhelmed by life’s circumstances as stress takes its toll.
Yet, we are reluctant to find our rest in the Lord. God gave us the Sabbath principle, not to restrict us, but to restore us. God does not wish to inhibit our days of productivity. He wants to give our days a greater sense of fulfillment. Anxiety and fatigue will never allow us to be at our best. Overwork results in underachievement. Perhaps keeping a Sabbath day holy makes all our days holy unto the Lord.
On several occasions Jesus our Lord needed downtime and turned aside for uninterrupted moments with the Father. His human limitations left Him exhausted from dealing with the crowd. He taught His disciples and He is teaching us the need to stop what we are doing long enough to revive our mental, spiritual and physical energies.
It is a sin against our spirit and the spirit of God that lives within to destroy the house in which they dwell. Of course we are not equipped to live forever on this earth, but we are equipped to make the most of our years. In our mad rush to be materially secure, we must be still and know that He is God. In knowing Him we discover His Sabbath principle of rest for our work-weary lives. It is possible to find rest and recreation in the Lord.
You’ve heard the saying “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.” and you probably recognize that it refers to a slowly increasing load or burden that eventually crushes the one carrying it, but have you ever given the saying much thought? Have you ever considered whether it applies to you? Or perhaps you’ve been through an experience that could be described by this prophetic witticism. Our modern society is very good at pushing the idea that if you’re not flitting around like a hummingbird, involved in everything, and severely stressed by it all; you’re not normal. I say if that’s normal, strive for abnormality!
The energy of anger is a force to be reckoned with in our world. It can cause nation to rise against nation. It can cause neighbor to mistreat neighbor and families to crumble in pain. It can cause normally decent people to harbor hatred. It can cause all of us to lose our composure and make fools our of ourselves.
What is there about this mysterious power which causes us so much inner pain and frustration? Sometimes anger gains its strength from our exaggerated selfishness. It receives momentum from the “mighty me” complex. Anger preys on our weaknesses to make us feel strong. It makes us defensive and resentful toward those who detect the flaws in our armor. When we allow the sun to go down upon our wrath it complicates tomorrow’s relationships.
Misdirected anger can be one of our most harmful emotions. Yet it does not always need to be bad. Paul said, “Be angry and sin not.” Perhaps this is Paul’s way of acknowledging a proper anger. It is a proper anger that runs money changers from the temple when it is obvious they are keeping others from worship. It is right to be angry about the hurts of life when they rise out of mistreatment and evil. Paul is telling us to channel the energy of our wrath into constructive purposes.
As the Holy Spirit controls our lives, even the emotion of anger becomes a redemptive tool in the hands of God. As our anger is kindled against sin, we are energized to oppose it. There are things God does not want us to tolerate. He wants us to despise the sin that separates us from one another. He wants us to denounce the evils which destroy human personality.
Therefore, let us seek Him who can inspire us to be angry about sin and yet have love for the sinner. Let us be angry enough at sin to confess, repent, and turn from the awkward attitudes and actions which have stunted our spiritual growth. Let us be angry enough at hate to let love prevail, at fear to let courage inspire, at doubt to let faith direct, and at all uncleanliness so that righteousness might stand. Then and only then can we “be angry and sin not.”
At no point in my life have I ever thought of myself as a poet. Most days I could not write poetry to save my life. But once in a while – when in a highly charged emotional state – something that resembles poetry drips from the point of my pencil. None of this has ever been published – or even submitted anywhere – but I thought I’d toss out a few pieces and see if they float. This one could be considered the flip side of the coin for Walls.
Lost in the Fog
Depression is a fog;
A thick grey blanket that steals in.
A few wisps at first
That wrap around your feet unnoticed.
Then rise higher, thicker
Until you are enveloped, trapped, lost.
You find you are alone,
You know not the way back home.
You have no direction;
All paths are swallowed by the mist.
You are lost!
You need another.
Someone on the right path with a light,
You move toward the light hopefully
And find a savior.
Who guides you out of the low lands
Where wood is sodden.
On the high ground mists are thin
And firewood dry.
Build a bright, blazing campfire
And drive away the fog.
Keep your fire stoked.
Gather crisp branches and add their worth.
Fire dispels the fog.
The heat drives back the chilling mists
Warming your bones
And bringing joy to your soul again.
Keep your fire stoked,
Allow it to serve as a light for others
Who have lost their way.
Watch for travelers, trapped in the fog,
And repay your debt.
At no point in my life have I ever thought of myself as a poet. Most days I could not write poetry to save my life. But once in a while – when in a highly charged emotional state – something that resembles poetry drips from the point of my pencil. None of this has ever been published – or even submitted anywhere – but I thought I’d toss out a piece or two and see if it floats.
Oh, how I hate the walls.
Entraping, confining, restricting.
I’ve wandered through their labyrinthic confines all my life,
And never known happiness.
For one fleeting moment, a spark of freedom broke in
Like a ray of sunlight in the darkness.
I held it to my breast, kissed it and cherished it.
My heart rejoiced with the feel of it.
And I was whole.
Then it was gone.
Shut out by the seething black-heartedness of those walls,
Sealing out even that one moment of happiness.
In rage, I launched against the walls.
I flailed the walls with my fists until they were torn and bruised.
The stones mocked me with their bloodied stains.
They thrived on my misery.
Closing in upon myself until there was nothing but myself.
And in my own private world,
I began to plot against them.
How I would cheat them.
I would steal from them their very source of nourishment.
In death I would exit this hall of pain.
As I sunk happily into the dark abyss,
Self-amused with the joke,
My spirit suddenly cried out in anguish.
For I found that death is but a door
Leading to more walls!
A simple, yet frighteningly accurate description of a malady that has reached epidemic proportions – nearly everyone I know is suffering from it. Perhaps someone close to you also is afflicted with Age-Activated Attention Deficit Disorder or AAADD
My doctor tells me that the best treatment available for AAADD is to hire servants to do the things I forget to do and to keep track of the stuff I’ll misplace, then I can just lol around the house feeling like I’m being useful and keeping busy and things will get done in spite of me. Medicare won’t cover that treatment; I wonder if I could train the dogs for this… I’ll try that right after I water the flowers.