A Little Thing

hartland_point(t60aq_console)old3During World War II, much of the battle on the high seas was determined by the submarine activity going on below the waves. Sonar operators were vital to the safety of the sub and the ships sailing above them. At one point in the war, this equipment was rendered useless, and the Navy was desperate to discover what was causing the massive interference problem.

It seemed as if the enemy had finally devised something that was causing the sonar equipment aboard US vessels to be rendered useless. There was so much interference that the military could not track the activity of enemy subs, and that left the navy fleet on the surface, virtually unprotected during a critical portion of the war.  The problem was so great that the Navy put together a team of experts to unravel what was going on. They had no ides what was causing massive waves of static in specific, large portions of the ocean.

After months of research, the military still had no solution. In desperation they decided to turn to a world-famous marine biologist to see if he could come up with an answer to this difficult problem. At first he was stumped and so he took some time off just to get away from the problem. After a few days he remembered some research he had read in the past. It was an article on a tiny crustacean, a shrimp about an inch long, with one enlarged claw. Apparently the shrimp clicked that claw while feeding. After checking out the areas of interference in the ocean, he discovered that millions upon millions of these tiny creatures were indeed gathered in the exact locations of the impenetrable sonar interference. It was the clicking of each tiny claw that was rendering the US Navy’s sonar totally useless.

This may have solved the mystery, but it did not solve the Navy’s problem. How would they ever be able to get rid of tens of millions of shrimp in the open ocean, in order to protect the US fleet? It was the marine biologist who, once again, came up with an ingenious solution that the Navy thought was brilliant. He told the Navy Commanders to actually use the shrimp as a kind of sonar camouflage. In other words, rather than eliminate the shrimp, take advantage of the noise they made. Bring the subs into the center of the noise, and just sit there. The clicking noise they made would actually hide the subs. The Biologist reasoned if the noise interfered with the US sonar, it would do the same with the sonar of the enemy which was less sophisticated.

This strategy worked way beyond their expectations. As US subs sat silently and floated in the center of millions of tiny clicking shrimp, the noise the shrimp made prevented subs from being spotted by enemy sonar.  Enemy subs and ships were baffled by the new US “technology” as they were caught off guard time and time again. Because of this strategy, shipping lanes were opened, destroyers and aircraft carriers were protected, and the advantage the US gained by this simple tactic changed the outcome of the World War II.

Sometimes your biggest problem also holds the exact solution you have been looking for. If you have a mindset to consider another way of seeing things, you can find it. Those who study the brain know of a process called neuro-plasticity. This is the ability of the brain to regroup and reorganize thought patterns. To do this, the brain often needs to disengage from the problem at hand for a while, in order to solve it. Alternatives are always present in any situation, but your brain can’t find them while it is focused on one way of thinking. This means, once we get in a rut, we can’t think outside that mental pathway. Getting away from things, relaxing and just disengaging for a season often frees up our brain to consider other, more inventive, solutions.

In the business world, old school mentors often tell those they are developing to double down, burn the midnight oil, try harder and just press through when a solution is needed. Today, researchers know that this kind of work ethic simply smothers creativity and tends to frustrate and burn people out. Heart attacks, mental distress, job dissatisfaction, sick days and emotional fatigue are all on the rise. Why? Because people are pushed to find an answer rather than given the time to let their brains relax so they can find an inventive solution.

The value of rest has been known for thousands of years. In the Bible God speaks to this  end and says; “Be still and know that I am God”, and “My presence shall go with you and I will give you rest”. In fact, the Jews were commanded to even give their land a year of rest every 7 years, so it would remain productive. Isaiah 30:15 says “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength”. God has laid out for all to see that repentence, rest, quietness and trust is where we can find our strength and answers. Why is it that we foolishly now think we can find these things some other way?

If you are baffled by life’s problems, perhaps it is time to consider them as nothing more than “shrimp”. What is floating in the sea of your life, causing pain and problems right now, also holds the answer you are looking for. You simply need to back up and let things settle.  Find a quiet place to relax and rest. Let your mind, your soul and your spirit get refreshed. Nothing is so pressing that it should take your life over, and rob you of your peace of mind. Why not take the time, get still before God and let that marvelous brain He gave you, do what it does best. In the quiet place, He will speak His words of  life to your inner man and then everything will be fine.

 

48 Degrees

We are well into the second week of September, and since June 21st, we have already lost two hours of daylight. I really notice that difference when I get up in the morning. On the calendar it is still officially summer, but the outside temperature and landscape tells a different story. Splashes of color are showing up, and that says Fall is here. It is 48 degrees outside, there is a northeast breeze pushing the mist around, and in the cool morning air I can hear geese honking overhead. Like it or not, Fall has arrived.

I know there are a few warm days yet to come, but autumn has clearly made its grand entrance into the Adirondacks. This is a certainty because it’s 32 degrees, and there is frost on the pumpkins in my hometown of Bloomingdale, NY. Not far from there, it’s a frigid 27 degrees on Mount Marcy. So, to the residents of our small town, a foggy 48 degree morning is an echo of the stark reality that summer is over and Fall has come once again.

In truth, 48 degrees really does not seem all that bad, but it is a turning point. It marks the moment when those who live here must consider what is about to return. What I mean is, we get our first frost in Johnstown about the 10th of October, and that ends the growing season. However, just north of us, in the heart of the Adirondacks, frost arrives around Labor Day. A few weeks later, in early November, we will see snow flurries in the air. December brings blankets of snow, and then January arrives with it’s manic-depressive weather on steroids. It brings a mid-winter thaw, where daytime temps go into the 50’s, and this is followed by arctic blasts that plunge things down to -25 or -35.

So, 48 degrees says something important, if you can hear it. It says the fevered heat of Summer, the warm sandy beaches, camping and back yard gatherings have passed. It says school is back in session, vacations are over, and gardens are just about done. It is the final appearance of Indian corn, pumpkins and squash on roadside stands. It means fields are being cleared, leaves raked and wood piles are growing bigger in the shrinking daylight hours. It says the apple harvest is in full swing, and the last fall flowers are in full bloom.

It’s the time for slowing down, sitting by an evening fire out back, while sipping a hot cup of coffee with friends. This is the season for patiently roasting a hotdog, thick cut bacon, or a piece of sharp cheddar cheese, on a stick over the fire. It means heavy dew on the grass, no more mowing, and it is time to check the snow blower and look for the winter tires. 48 degrees is not just a number on a thermometer. No, it marks a way of life that brings us back to the basics and back to our roots. This is when we ponder where we have been, and more importantly, where we are about to go. It’s a line drawn in the sand of life, and once it is reached, you know there is no going back.

Have you reached your 48 degrees yet? Let me make sure you understand what I just said. This is the time in life when you hit a wall, and must begin to re-evaluate yourself, and everything you are doing, at a gut level. Things are just different somehow, and you may or may not, understand why. You know subtle differences are in the air, and you can feel it deep inside. The thing is, you really are not sure what to do next, and that brings unsettledness to all you do. You can sense a shift in the season of life, but don’t know what new direction that shift is pointing you in. If you are living with the above, then you have hit your 48 degree point. The geese are overhead, and certain change is in the wind, like it or not.

So what do you do now? How do you get any traction in this season of uncertainty? Due of my prophetic call, I have been in this place numerous times over the years. From those experiences, I have learned a few things along the way. Allow me share one nugget that has served me quite well. Perhaps it may help you in your season of transition. My advice? First of all, go build a fire, sit in its light and warmth, and invite a few choice friends to join you for a hot cup of coffee. You might be saying to yourself right now, “What? What kind of wisdom is that?” Well, there is more truth in those words than you might expect, so just keep reading.

What I am saying is more profound than you might think, so let’s break it down. First of all, you need to gather the wood for a fire. That is, you have to get focused, slow down and try to calm your anxious thoughts. Anxiety never solved anything for anyone. Take the time to settle your thinking so you can build the fire of passion you once had for life. Discover a fresh passion for what you love to do. Uncover the hidden talents and skills you have acquired in life. Don’t go rushing off into the dark night in a panic. Gather your thoughts and build the fire of your passion once again. This will bring the light of fresh vision, and the warmth of new possibilities to you that your soul really needs.

Second, invite a few “choice friends” to sit with you as you build your fire. You do not want to bring those who usually hang with you on this journey. Those friends who are currently in your circle, probably helped bring you where you are right now. If they lack vision and direction, most likely so do you. That’s just the way it is. You need friends around you who have a vision, passion, clarity and a desire to succeed. Sit with those who speak life, and those who have a positive attitude. You need friends who will challenge you to stop whining, encourage you to fan the flame of your passion, and help you step outside your comfort zone.

Finally, you need those who are willing to drink the coffee you serve up. That is, these must be people who nourish themselves the same way you do. For a Christian, that means they must love and rely on Jesus the same way you do. They need to be connected to a good local church, submitted to good leadership, and looking for life’s answers in Scripture. People, who seek out what the world offers, will always end up with second best. Those who seek God are always going to take you in the right direction. Most importantly, these friends need to be people of integrity who will pray for you, and with you. Others, who are highly qualified, may be willing to share your fire, but if they don’t drink what you drink, it’s going to be a problem. The spiritual unity of all those on the journey, is the key that correctly aligns and unlocks your future.

If you sense a change in the wind, and are feeling a bit disoriented in life now, perhaps it’s time to go build a fire. Put on the coffee pot and invite a few choice friends to sit with you and stoke the fire of your passion. Enjoy the personal conversation, savor a cup of hot coffee and roast some sharp cheddar. In this rich atmosphere of insight, guidance and care, light will begin to penetrate the darkness, and fresh direction will come.

Remember, this season will not last forever, but it will bring change, so you might a well embrace it and get the benefit. When it’s over, things are going to be different. For now, why not go take a look at the thermometer of your life. If it reads a cool 48 degrees then change is on the way and it’s time to go light the fire!

Removing Your Chlorophyll

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Sometimes, a reality that is hidden from our eyes is a whole lot more amazing than the words of any fictional story. Tales of space travel, hidden treasure, and murder mysteries that capture our attention, can be quite entertaining. However, the things we miss that are right in front of us, those that are hidden in plain sight, can be even more fantastic. As humans, we often take what we see and hear, at face value. When this happens, we fail to understand the powerful truths that lie just below the surface. What seem obviously clear to all, may not be all there is to the story.

For example, this is the beginning of September and we are in Ontario, Canada right now. In this area of the country, an amazing transformation is about to take place. A breath-taking change in the leaves brings out a reality that many people miss. That is, the green, broad-leaved trees in North America are not really green. We see them as that color, and we all enjoy the shade, firewood and lumber they provide, but the fact still remains, what you see with your eye is not really all that’s going on. Just below that layer of green is an amazing world of color and chemistry that has been taken for granted.

The green color of every leaf comes from an amazing compound called chlorophyll. This engineering marvel converts sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into everything people and plants need to survive. During the Spring and Summer, chlorophyll uses a process called photosynthesis. This goes into high gear as it is vital to the existence of everything on earth. In the Fall, that process comes to an abrupt halt in certain trees, as they get ready for a long winter sleep. It’s chemical nature in these trees changes with the dwindling daylight hours and cooler night temperatures. This seasonal change deactivates, and finally kills off the green chlorophyll. It then turns transparent and is expelled from the leaf.

The hidden glory of leaves only shows up when the chlorophyll is gone. Those brilliant colors that paint the hill sides in the waning fall sunlight, are the real colors that were there all along. Think of it, the magnificent shades of red, yellow, purple and orange were always present, but hidden. In fact, these photosynthetic pigments also convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into plant sugars, but they use different wavelengths of light to do so. As the sun’s angle changes, and sunlight is bent towards the red end of the spectrum in the Fall, those are the exact colors the other pigments use most efficiently. This gives the tree it’s last boost of stored sugar for what is to come.

Think of it. These substances were there from the beginning, but did not function because they were masked over by something else. I want to be sure you got what I just said. Only the death and removal of one thing, allows the glory of the other to be fully revealed. Until the chlorophyll is dead and gone, the true leaf color is hidden from view and those vital pigments that prepare the tree for the season ahead, cannot do their job. Amazingly enough, scientists realized that if they had been revealed prior to the Fall season, they would not have functioned at their peak capacity, and that would have hurt the tree. How fantastic is all of God’s creation, that it fits together with such perfection!

As a person created by God, that same perfection of timing, function and purpose is also in you. There is a glory waiting to be revealed in every person, and like the leaf, many things are hidden in plain sight. What we are created to be, and how and when we are designed to do it, is often masked over by other things. Childhood trauma, insecurities, debt, doubt and a hundred other things get layered into our life. Like chlorophyll in a leaf, they mask over who we really are, and what God created us to do. When we can’t release these things, and let them pass away, they hold everything up. This is what prevents us from attaining our full glory. These may have served a purpose in one season of life, but in the new season we are moving into, they need to die and be expelled, so who we really are can be revealed.

Have you felt stuck in life, unable to gain any traction for forward momentum? Does holding on to the past have more meaning than anticipating the future? If so, it means you have a layer of emotional chlorophyll stuck to you. You might not be able to see it, but I can assure you, it is there. This probably was the thing that made you feel safe at some point in your personal history. However, the seasons have changed, and now is the time for you to honestly look at yourself, become transparent about your issues, and finally let things go. Why? Because those things, whatever they are, are covering over the glory that is in you. They need to go, so you can be prepared to do what you were created to do.

In this change of season, the glory God put in you is waiting to come out. It’s time to remove that old chlorophyll, become transparent, and let the amazing transformation begin. This is your time, so the hidden glory within you can finally be revealed!

What Comes Next!

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Labor Day weekend is here, and I love the season that lies just ahead. Another spring and summer have become a treasured part of my personal history, but they did not leave me with a warm, friendly feeling this year. No, the four months that just passed have been difficult one’s that will stick with me for life. This is primarily because so many significant things happened that changed our lives forever. These were momentous issues that forced us to slow down, consider the impact of circumstances, and look honestly at each other with greater appreciation. Scripture says that life is like a vapor, and it can change in an instant. I have come to realize that truer words were never spoken, and I am looking forward to what comes next.

Let me give you just a partial list of what happened in our lives. To begin with, I went back into teaching, and fortunately for me the kids and school system I am in absolutely love me. Next, our church is experiencing a powerful presence of God, which is bringing growth, and growth brings challenges. My grandson and I had a motorcycle accident. He was fine, but I broke my lower right leg in 4 places. I have had two surgeries, a titanium rod in my tibia, with five screws, and am still on crutches in recovery. My eldest son and his family were forced to move far away from their friends and family, to look for work. Right after the move, he became ill and landed in the ICU. Doctors installed a pacemaker in him at age 41, but he still needs open heart surgery, his gallbladder may be removed and a blood clot must be taken care of on his kidney and in his heart.

All this time I have been laid up, which means my work at the school ended abruptly in May, and that impacted our finances. Medical bills piled up, and my wonderful wife Esther has been carrying 100% of the workload around our house, without complaint. Others have had to carry extra responsibilities at church, where Esther and I pastor, in spite of their busy schedules. The garden I planted in May became a jungle, even though people did come to weed it. I crawled out there occasionally to get what vegetables I could. That was actually enjoyable, but painful. My lawn needed to be cut, and now it needs to be bailed like hay. Finally, both our vehicles needed work that was not cheap. Yup… some significant changes came, and we had to embrace them all without feeling sorry for ourselves.

Am I frustrated in all this? I have to admit, there were late nights I was awake in pain, when my answer to that question would have been pretty negative. Nothing in me wants to sit for months in a chair, with my leg elevated, until my bones heal. Nothing in me wants to have others wait on me, or do what I should be doing for myself. We did not take our Kayaks out on beautiful, sunny days. My wife and I missed riding our bikes in the cool evenings. I missed all the wonderful hikes into the Adirondack backcountry, where I usually go trout fishing. My freezer does not have a supply of speckled trout for the winter. I never got to ride my motorcycle during the best days of spring and summer. I still can’t scout out where the partridge, turkeys and deer might be found before hunting season opens. No nice evening walks with my wife. Nope! None of that happened this year. All this because significant changes overtook us and they had to be embraced, and reconciled to our life as it really is.

There was nothing I could do about all the things that happened. So, I could either get angry, and sit in self-induced depression, or I could deal with it and go with the flow. More importantly, I had to learn how to have a good attitude about everything, and let the love of God, and our love for each other, carry me through this rough season. I can’t get back the time I lost when I should have been trout fishing. I can’t regret the roads I never took my motorcycle down, or the quiet days I missed in the Adirondacks, or evening strolls with my wife. These great pleasures were not to be mine this year, and as the summer ended, I had to resolve something within myself to those difficult realities. I had to let it go, and look forward to what was yet to come.

My point is simple. Where we focus our attention and energy, makes all the difference. It does not change our reality, but it changes the atmosphere and our personal outcome. When we focus on what has been lost, that becomes the thing that takes our life over. The sad part is, we can’t change our past, so letting it control our present gives it the power to dictate our future. Now ask yourself, is this what you really want for the rest of your life? Is this how you want to live out your days? My decision was to stand up, walk above the circumstances, and refuse to let them direct the narrative of my life. Do I like what happened? Of course not! But am I going to let events that were out of my control, be in control? Absolutely not!

We have to remember that life is fluid. It moves and changes from hour to hour, day to day and at times, one moment to the next. It might be a painful place of discouragement right now, but that will not last forever. The worst of times must pass, and they will be nothing more than a bad memory that fades away. If you let a negative mindset rule during the difficult season of your life, it will rob you of all the good that is being accomplished, and the great things that are still ahead. Why let something that so quickly fades away, have that much power over you? The faster you learn to just “let it go”, the faster you will get to the good stuff that comes next.

Many things in life will be out of our control. Things like disease, the death of a loved one or the loss of a job are going to happen. A hundred things can come at us, and there is nothing we can do about them. That being said, we ARE in control of HOW we respond to those things. Every one of us has a free will, and that gives us all the power we need to choose what our response will be. Does it make a difficult situation easier? Probably not! But, it does make the journey through it better for everyone. We can have a good attitude, and make the best of a bad situation, or we can make a bad situation even worse, by adding our miserableness into what already sucks. Your choice will either make you better or bitter. The thing is, what comes next, really is up to you!

Change Is In The Wind

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Today is the 24th of August, it is a cool 59 degrees, and I am on my front porch enjoying the morning solitude. A high-pressure system to our north has created a wind that is bringing a flow of cold Canadian air over the Adirondacks and into our region. As I sit here pondering the summer I have experienced, it is clear to me how rapidly it is passing by. That nip of Fall in the air, and the fact that the morning sun is just now turning the sky a pale blue, tells me how much daylight we have already lost since Summer began. Like it or not, good summer or bad, time has passed and I must get prepared, because change is in the win

What I mean is, Fall will arrive right on schedule, no matter what I say or do. I cannot stop its arrival. Don’t misunderstand what I just said. I love the brisk Fall mornings, and the amazing change of color. It’s a time of great nostalgia for me. Wood smoke in the air, the smell of apple pies in the oven and the distant sound of a shotgun blast on the hillside, are all reminders of my childhood. I am transported into the past when Fall hunting season was our time of provision. We filled the freezer with meat, and put on the storm windows to keep out the coming cold. In September and October, everything was made right, and made ready, for the winter storms that were going to come. By November we were safe, secure, stocked with provisions, and prepared for whatever might come our way. It was a powerful expression of meeting life head on, and winning.

Life in the Fall season was good, but it was filled with a necessary change, a demarcation point that no one could avoid. It was the time of a needful shift from the sunny, easy, fun days of summer, to the full awareness that we either had to get ready, or suffer the consequences and get left behind. There was no plan “B”, and if you did not do what had to be done, your life would soon take a turn for the worse. Others might help you in a moment of need, but ultimately, no one was going to carry you forever in the things you should have taken care of yourself. As the old saying goes, “Fail to prepare? Prepare to fail!”.

What about you? How comfortable are you with the winds of change? Do you recognize them, and embrace the purpose for which they have come? Do you fight to hold on to what is passing away, regardless of the cost? Many cling in desperation to what must come to an end, simply because they don’t like the feeling of losing control. The future is always filled with unknown elements, and that can be a scary thing. Mothers cling to their children, not wanting them to move away from home. Fathers hold on to their daughters so tightly they prevent them from being happily married. Bosses will not promote deserving employees, in fear they will be better leaders. The list is endless, the casualties are real, but the winds of change come anyway, and life moves on, with or without you.

If you are entering a season of change, this is not the time to “double down” and hold tight to what was. If you do whatever it takes to hang on to what is passing away, you will miss out on the blessing of what is yet to come. History is filled with powerful examples of this life-changing principle. For instance, in the late 1800’s thousands of buggy and wagon makers stubbornly held to making their products. Why? Because they knew people had always and would always need their product. Because they had hindsight and not foresight, they missed their golden opportunity. One family, however, felt the winds of change, and embraced the shift that was coming. They geared up for a different kind of “buggy” that no longer used a horse, but used horsepower. That family’s last name…… Ford!

Are your feeling the winds of change sweep over your life right now? My suggestion is that you relax, take it to prayer, and trust God. Those of us who have an active relationship with the Lord know the tremendous advantage He gives in every season of life. His favor, if we know how to access it, sets us up for growth, maturity, blessing and success. We are not alone in any change, and His promise is that He will never leave us or forsake us. So, let the winds come, and when they do, hoist your sail and take advantage of where He wants to blow you next. For the Christian, life is an adventure to be fully lived, and every change is simply part of the fun.

If the winds of change tend to overwhelm you, perhaps it’s because you don’t yet know the God who loves you, and goes with you through that change. His name is Jesus, and He is the love of God poured out for you. He is the One who will fill your heart with peace, your life with purpose and your fears with joy. He will forgive you, wash away your sins and give you peace. He is what you have been looking for your whole life, and never knew it. Why not surrender your life and heart to Him today? He is the answer to all of life’s storms. If you will talk to him from your heart, the winds of change will come, and you will thank God for where they take you. Your other option is to be like the buggy makers, and miss the amazing blessing God has for you. The choice is up to you!

Finding What Matters

school-roomWhen I was in elementary and middle school, I was not what might be called an ideal student. I disliked the homework, the rules, the group activities, the slow pace of the classes and the wasted time spent in my seat. I was bored most of the time and looking for ways to entertain myself during the long hours. I would much rather be outside fishing on the river, or hunting with my single shot .22 rifle.

I was the kid who shot spit balls at the most studious girls in the class, or snuck under the outside fire escape at school so I could peek up the girls dresses when they went out for recess. I was the kid who tripped any boy who walked by my desk. I was the kid who got a transistor radio for Christmas that came with an ear piece. I brought it to school and told my teachers it was a hearing aid, and I was going deaf. Oh yes, and I was the one who deliberately misspelled a word on a spelling test just to keep the whole class from getting a perfect score. When I was told to spell that word correctly 50 times while everyone else was at recess, I would misspell it in a different way all 50 times, just to drive the teacher crazy.

No, I was not your ideal student simply because I learned the material when it was explained, and in my mind, after that, my life was being wasted. None of the rest of the class time really mattered. Then one day in the ninth grade something happened. A switch clicked in my head when I realized that somehow Science did matter. The funny thing is, I spent all my working years teaching science, all because of this one day. So, this particular class we were having a “science take down”, where the class was divided and stood up on opposite end of the room. The teacher asked science questions to the students one at a time, and whoever answered incorrectly had to sit down. The team that sat down first got homework that night.

As the team I was on stood in line, I pretended to look at my hand, as if to read an answer, and then to everyone’s shock I answered my question correctly. The kid next to me whispered, “you’re gonna get caught”, and the contest went on. One by one students on both sides were taken down until there were only a few of us left on each side.  Every time I was about to be asked a question, I would glance down at my hand, pretending to find an answer. Sure enough, no matter what was asked I would be right.

Those in their seats were almost ready to riot when the only two students left standing on opposite teams were me, and the smartest kid in the class, Greg Hosplehorn. At this point everyone was wondering why the teacher had not called me out, since it was clear I must be cheating. Then to my great joy it happened, she told the class that whatever team lost would have a 500 word essay to write that night on why it never pays to cheat. She then instructed me to not look at my hand, and answer the next question. The team I was on began to moan, some of my team mates threatened to beat me up. It was not pretty.

The teacher smiled, asked the killing question, and without any hesitation I shot the answer right out. The class was stunned into silence. She asked Greg his question and true to form, the answer flew right out of his mouth. Back and forth we went for the remaining 10 minutes of the class, until the bell finally rang. At that point the teacher asked me to hold up my hands up for everyone to see. To the astonishment of all, they were empty. The teacher smiled at me, shook her head and said “I guess this means no homework for anyone, since neither team lost that game.” I walked into class that day as a dope, and an irritation to many. However, I walked out as brilliant, and a hero in the eyes of all.  Why? Because, something finally mattered.

What things really matter to you? Do you know what they are, and are you going after them with all your heart? What are the passions in life that cause you to shine the way you were designed to be? If you don’t know, then it’s time to stop everything and discover this undiscovered territory. Set time aside to be with the Holy Spirit and let Him define you with breath-taking specificity. You will never hit your high place of excellence, satisfaction and productivity unless you first know what you were made to do, and where you were made to do it. In other words, you have to find out what matters.

As a Christian, I was called by God to be a teacher, a writer,  a preacher and an apostolic prophet. I build ministers and ministries. I write books and Bible studies. I bring clarity to those who are confused. I am a spiritual father to many and a friend to all. I mentor those who desire to grow, and guide those who need to know. These things all flourish in my life whenever I get focused, and choose to participate in them the way God intended. Because of this, I find great satisfaction, and an ease of productivity filling my days. I bring God’s blessing to those who get near me, and my life is filled with purpose. When I am living in my high place, everything just works, and I love it.

Perhaps this is the season for you to discover what really matters. This may be your time to stop the endless activity,  get quiet, stay focused and uncover who you really are.  Let the searchings of your heart go deep. Find out what your passions are, and most importantly, where they are pointing you. If you desire it, you can live a life of purpose and productivity. You can find that deep place of satisfaction only God can bring you, and only He can keep you. It is in this place alone, where you find what really matters, that life has its full meaning. Once you find this, you can joyfully spend the rest of you life living it. Now… go find what matters, and be a blessing to others by doing it.

Finding Our Colored Leaves

fall color 2

I took a drive early this morning and went north of town just to see what I could see. My leg was badly broken in May and I have been housebound much of the time since then. Now that I am moving along in my healing, this trip north was the day’s welcomed distraction. It was cool and misty when I started out, which is typical for the Adirondacks this time of year, and I was on a traditional search for something special. I was looking for the first few leaves that turn color early. They are the harbingers of Fall that is soon to come, and I love to give the initial report of their appearance. For me, this marks the beginning of not just the end of summer, but something deeply rooted in my emotional DNA.

I headed north, past a little place called Rockwood, NY that is nestled alongside a lake which is held back by an aging dam. Beyond this is an area that is remote and beautiful, and it’s usually 10 to 15 degrees cooler than here in town. Since I still can’t ride my motorcycle to where I would normally be trout fishing this time of year, I figured this would be the next best thing to do for spotting leaves. Once I was well into the Adironacks, I turned down a side road that wound along a river, and stopped for a drink at a secret spring I know that comes down off the hill-side.

I must admit, there is nothing quite like cold, clear spring water. It is medicine to the soul, and refreshing to the body for a country boy like me. You may enjoy a glass of ice water from your faucet, but I will take a handful of fresh spring water over that any time I can find it. I realize those who live in the city will have their concerns about how safe it is to drink water that comes right out of the ground, rather than from a plastic bottle. Honestly, those of us who live in the rural areas of America wonder how safe water is that has been wrapped in plastic for months or years. I guess it’s all a matter of personal perspective.

In any case, I bent over and cupped the icy water in my hands, and something caught the corner of my eye. It was a flash in the mist that I assumed was a Redwing Blackbird. However, when I turned to look, there in full view just above my head, was a brilliant red leaf waving at me in the morning breeze. It was beautiful, and shifted ever so silently as if to say, “here I am, you found me!”. Then I looked around and realized there were quite a few others, and they all stood out like bits of fire in the early morning sun. I had hit the jackpot! The first colors of Fall had been officially observed, and I could report back to my friends on that undeniable fact.

Why would I hunt for leaves? Well, this tradition, of finding the first early leaves of Fall, dates back to my childhood. My father was one of the last genuine “old time” Adirondack guides, and in August I would travel to work with him. No doubt my mother needed a break from my summer antics, and spending the day with dad at his work was the solution. We left Bloomingdale at 7am, and drove his 1954 Willies Jeep to “Upper Saint Regis Landing”. From there we used 4 wheel drive to go the last 4 miles down a rugged dirt road to “Forest Lodge”. This propety bordered the canoe carry between Upper Saint Regis Lake and Bear Pond. On it was a massive three story log chalet built in the early 1800’s. It was the “summer camp” of Henry and Patricia Olmstead, and dad was the personal guide and caretaker of that property.

Our trip together into Forest Lodge started a tradition. We began to search for the first leaves to change color, because this was a sign that hunting season was just around the corner. August was trout season, but September brought fresh partridge to our table. October brought turkey and rabbit, and November meant fresh venison would soon be cooking on the stove. Year after year this tridition was built within me, and so today, I still go out in August to look for those first red leaves. More significanlty, I don’t just find leaves, I find a connection to my past. This search rekindles the memories of a time in life when I felt completely safe, richly loved and totally protetcted.

It brings back the emotions of a era when natural provision was abundent, and I had no concerns. A time when life was pure and simple, and mom and dad watched over it all with great love and patient care. It reminds me of wood smoke on cold mornings, hot buiscits and steaming loaves of italian bread just pulled from my mothers oven. It’s the smell of bacon, toast, coffee and eggs in a warm, morning kitchen, and the sound of my mother singing while she put breakfast on the table. It’s my father’s baratone voice telling me he trusted me to use his favorite double barel, 20 guage shotgun, and the pride in his eyes when I brought home the meat. It’s all these things, and so much more wrapped up in a single red leaf.

We need connections like this to our past, even if it’s just one thing that reminds us of how good life can be. Why? Because at times, people and events can strip our souls bare. Pain and suffering can rob us of the joy of living, and leave us feeling like an empty husk on the side of the road. Ever been there? It is in moments like this, when we need something to hold on to, something that can’t be taken from us. We all need to find our colored leaves. For some it is memories like this, and for others it is their personal relationship with the Lord. I thank God that for me it’s both. I count myself blessed to have many good memories and a good God overshadowing in my life.

If you have lost a great deal in life, or just lost your way, perhaps it is your time to go look for some colored leaves. Take a drive out of town and find a quiet place to drink in the sloitude and feel God’s presence. Listen and look for what you have been missing. Stop and take a nice cold drink of the love that God is pouring out to you right now. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made, and forgive those who have hurt you. Once you do, take a deep breath, look up and you will begin to see the beautiful leaves life has to offer. Embrace those flashes of color that can heal your past, and hold your future. If you will, you will never be the same! Now go have a great day and enjoy the leaves that come your way……