A Stone On Your Head

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In 1834 the following story was written by English historians who were compiling a review of County Crayke. It is the true account of a gentlemen named Simeon Ellerton.

“Simeon Ellerton died here, Crayke, North Yorkshire, England, January 3, 1799, at the advanced age of 104. He was a noted pedestrian, and was often employed by gentlemen in the neighborhood on commissions to London and other places, which he always executed on foot, with fidelity and diligence. He lived in a neat stone cottage of his own building; and what was remarkable, he had literally carried it upon his head!

It being his practice to bring home from every journey the proper stone he could pick up on the road, and place it on his head, until he had accumulated a sufficient quantity to erect his habitation, by which time, although the motive had ceased, this practice had grown so much into a habit, that he imagined he could travel the better for having a weight upon his head and he seldom came home without some loading. If any person inquired his reason, he used facetiously to answer, ‘’Tis to keep on my hat’.”

The article went on to say that local residents all thought he was a “curious fellow”, a bit touched in the head, or at the very least, a bit eccentric. Because of his practice, the term “rocks on your head” began to be used to describe anyone who acted out of the norm, or had behavior considered a bit strange. What is fascinating, is that the term is still in use today. It has come down to us in the form of “rocks in your head”. Yet the fact is, the man it was intended to mock,  actually lived an honorable life. He was trusted and respected by all who hired him, and lived to the ripe old age of 104, during a time when the average person died before the age of 50. Hardly the life of one who should be mocked!

For me this is such a great story. It demonstrates the value of quiet resolve, personal diligence and clear vision, which are so important if you are going to accomplish anything in life. Let’s face it, few people today would stop to ask why a man was walking the roadside with a rock on his head. Most would assume he was mentally unhinged, or an emotional prisoner to some trauma in life. He would most likely be reported to the authorities and locked in some psychiatric ward. Fewer still would have the diligence, fortitude and patience to carry out a practice everyone questioned. The mockery of others, and the sheer magnitude of the task at hand, would simply wear them out.

There is a powerful lesson to be learned from the humble determination of the man who carried a rock on his head. He is the model for all of us who think outside the box. We all live in a world that tries to conform us to it’s way of doing things. Dress like this, talk like that, think like this and act like so. Drive this car, use this makeup, live in this kind of house and dress in these clothes. Conform, or you are an outcast and will have no work! The point is, most people are nothing more than rats running in a social maze and they are too blind, or too scared, to see things for what they really are.

And so, those of us with a rock on our head, who carry this load along life’s road, are doing so because it secures our future.  We are carrying the stones of a place not yet built, where we will live free, think free and enjoy independence from that which influences and manipulates the rest of the world. Run like mindless lemmings, if you so desire, into the sea that this world offers. But, as for me, I will go against that flow every time, and much prefer to be the odd ball. An outcast in some circles, perhaps, but who cares! While they are running like gerbils on their caged-in treadmills, I am having amazing failures and wonderful adventures in the real world that take my breath away!

I, and those like me, are the curious ones that others wonder about, as we serve God, pray and live biblically principled lives. We gladly walk our road with a rock on our head, knowing that in time we will have a “neat stone cottage” approved by God. It may not be tomorrow, but one stone at a time it will be built. As this world goes it’s merry way, deeper into conformity and sin, laughing, mocking and looking at us with curiosity, we will be building a future that will not be shaken, one stone on our head at a time. My question is, what’s on your head my friend, and what future are you building?  If you don’t like what you see, let me invite you to join us on our journey into the presence of God. You won’t regret it! Now go find a nice stone….. and have a great day!

 

Life As A Priority

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In the early 1900’s, life in rural America was so much simpler than it is today. Many, like myself, think this was life as it should be. The steam locomotive, wagon and horse were the main forms of transportation. Every community had a hardware store and blacksmith shop. The general store, post office and barbershop were gathering places for local news. The sawmill and gristmill were centers of community commerce, and farmers brought their crops into town to sell locally. People were happy to depend on each other in times of crises, or to meet basic, daily needs.

Life was slower, less distracted and more deliberate in those days, and each season had its own necessary preparations. There were family gardens and crops to be planted in spring, structures to be built in summer, wood to be cut, a harvest to be brought in and animals to be hunted in the Fall, and winter was used to mend, fix and prep everything for the next year. Front porches on every house were lined with comfortable wooden rockers that adults sat in during the evening and they shared a cup of coffee and good conversation. Best of all, neighbors looked out after each other on a daily basis and there was a sense of belonging that cemented things into that specific time and place.

The cars, bicycles and motorcycles were novelties, for the most part, and the average person viewed them as toys for the rich. People heated their homes with wood and lighted the night with kerosene lamps or home made candles. Hand made bi-planes crawled into the air under the guidance of inexperience daredevils, who landed them in empty fields that served as airports. Doctors made house calls and left the necessary medicine for their patients, all for a whopping price of $5. Milk and heavy cream were delivered in glass bottles to the front door by local dairy’s along with eggs, cheese and butter.

A “tab” was run up at local stores by most everyone, and this was paid off without interest, at the end of the month. Loans were made, and finances exchanged with nothing more than a handshake and a verbal agreement. No signed contracts were needed, and in many cases, no one wrote down how much was borrowed. People were basically honest, but beyond that, they knew their family name was on the line if they failed to honor their agreement. There was genuine trust and respect that people gave to one another, and nothing less was to be expected.

There was one school in each community and it had locally hired teachers who taught two elementary grade levels in a single room. Each high school grade had it’s own room and teachers specialized in two or three subjects. Elementary teachers stayed with the same class all day while those in high school rotated between classrooms and grade levels to be taught different subjects. Students all walked to school, there were no busses, and they either carried their lunch in a brown paper bag or ran home to eat at lunchtime. The average class size in these community schools was 8 to 12 students per grade level, and that was also the size of each graduating class.

It’s hard to believe, but this is very close to the world I grew up in. Our small village in the northern Adirondacks seemed to have a “Brigadoon” quality about it that resisted modernization. It disliked change of any kind, and each new decade took it further and further out of step with the world that was changing all around it. Quite honestly, we were proud of that fact, and in many ways I still am. Why? Because, I got to live in a world that was quickly vanishing away. I got to know some of the life my father had lived, in the early 1900’s, and it connected me to him and to our family history. I not only heard his stories of years gone by, but I was able to experience some of them for myself, which made them real.

Dad road in an open wagon, and I got to ride in the back of his 1954 Willies truck on summer nights. He swam in Sumner Brook on hot summer days, and 55 years later so did I. I attended the same schoolhouse he did, sat in the same desks and wrote on the same chalkboards. Our family ate breakfast and dinner together as a family every day, and life rotated around when those meals were ready. We adjusted our activities to our family mealtime, not our mealtime to our activities. Eating at my mother’s table was a constant that established our family life and time together.

Now imagine this; when I was 9 years old my father called Cohen’s Hardware Store, just down the hill from our house, and told the clerk to give me two “farmers helpers”. Dad was clearing stumps and rocks from our backfield and these made the job much easier. With $2 in hand I arrived at the store, handed the clerk the money, and he gave me two paper bags. One had sawdust in it and the other did not. He then gave me stern instructions to keep them separate and take them directly to my father.

What was in the two bags? One held two blasting caps with 10 inch fuses, and the other held sawdust that encased and two half sticks of dynamite, called “blanks”. Once a blasting cap was inserted into the “blank”, and the fuse was lit, you were in business to remove any stump or rock that might be in the way. Today people would be arrested for such a thing, but back them it was just everyday life. I had a respect for the power of what I held and I also respected my father. In addition I trusted the store clerk and they both trusted me to do exactly as I was told. Needless to say I did not let them down and the whole system worked fine. There were no permits, no laws broken and no harm was done. It was regulation free and worked for everyone.

We learned respect for authority, obedience to our parents and we accepted the wisdom of common sense. We listened to what would be dangerous, or wrong, and we kept that knowledge close at hand. We took responsibility for our actions and discovered the value of honoring the old ways that served past generations so well. The deep-rooted connection to the life that had always been, was embraced as truth, and it kept us safe, brought focus and connected us together as a community.

This was the life for me during the 1950’s, and when it began to disappear, something in me disappeared with it. The sense of permanence, historical family foundations and the knowledge of knowing where you belonged, began to fade away. Then my mother moved from our hometown at the age of 90, and a few years later Normans General Store closed, after being there for 120 years. With these two events, all connection to who we had always been was gone. Every tie to family history, and the reality that I could no longer go “home” was a shock. It set me adrift, and I felt like I was floating in a sea of uncertainty in a rapidly changing world that clearly would never be the same.

I was eventually able to get my bearings because the core values of that solid, grounded, generational life, served me well. However, many today live their lives with a directionless, rootless apathy. The need for job security often moves families across the country multiple times. Statistics show that people move, on average, every 5 years. Today, huge schools bus children in from miles around, and class sizes average in the hundreds. Millions of dollars are spent on sports programs, free breakfast and lunches and special clubs. Yet with all of this, more children are overweight, the quality of education continues to fall and students are less prepared for the workforce than ever before.

Where is the answer in all of this? Are we to go back to the horse and buggy, the kerosene lamp and the hand pump of 100 years ago? No, but we might do well to go back and revisit the values, the priorities and the heart of those earlier times. Imagine what it would be like to rediscover the art of human connection. Think of how wonderful conversation could be without the constant interruption of television, computer screens or cell phones buzzing and chirping invasively into every moment of the day. How grand would it be to sit around the dinner table and eat a well-prepared meal rather than rushing off to yet another event.

How in the world do you do this? One word: PRIORITIES! The priority you place on things always determines how they fit into the life you live. There is no exception to the rule, and no way to avoid the consequences either. You will always, and I mean always, find time for what’s really important. Tell me your kids are important, yet you are always working and never have time for them; YOU LIE! Say that family is important, yet you never take a vacation together, never do fun things as a family and rarely share your thoughts or feelings: YOU LIE! Say that saving for retirement is important but you constantly go into debt and buy things that you can’t afford; YOU LIE!

Let me challenge you to live a life of priorities. Set a standard that others will be blessed by. Set the wrong priorities and it will become a curse. Living a life of priorities is the only way to live happy and fulfilled. We may not be able to go back to what was, but we can get our priorities straight and capture a better way to live. If you want to recover some of what has been lost, let me encourage you to consider the above. If you will, you can change what is, and those who follow after you will be able enjoy the history you have created. Let me ask you, in the end, what’s that worth!

The Trout Stream Of Life

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“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3)

The above Scripture is a reminder of the keeping power and blessing that God pours on those who seek Him. It also brings to mind the days of my youth, when I spent so much time in the deep woods of the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York. It was a wonderful place to grow up. Dad was an Adirondack guide, and the caretaker for “Forest Lodge”, one of the great old Adirondacks camps that is located on the canoe carry between Upper St. Regis Lake and Bear Pond. I spent many days with my father in that place, and it was there that I learned to love the woods just like him.

The hills, valleys and lakes that surrounded Forest Lodge, were my boyhood haven for exploration and adventure. My single-shot .22 rifle was a constant companion, and more often than not, my trout rod was also in hand as I wandered about looking for another place to fish. Many small rivers were hidden away in the moist hemlock forests. They trickled down the hills and filled dozens of kettle hole ponds that dotted the property where the “camp was located. Every chance I had, I took the time to walk through thick brush and around cat tail swamps, in hopes of finding another river valley that held the next trout stream of my dreams.

Time has slipped by, and finding the best streams today is not easy. I still have to get off the beaten path, where most people will not go, and look with a keen eye, or listen for the sound a bubbling water. I explore old dirt roads on my 1980 Honda CX500 and find hidden, or overlooked streams that others have missed or passed by. Often I hike a mile or more off-road to a promising river valley and am handsomely rewarded with a nice mess of speckled trout. It takes time to walk into those secret places, where valleys come together, and ice-cold water tumbles down over untouched glacial boulders. Here is where hemlock trees hang darkly over deep, clear pools and hungry native “brookies” are waiting to strike anything that hits the water.

My most memorable days have been spent on secret streams with my trout rod in hand, nightcrawlers I picked off my lawn, and a small thermos of hot coffee tucked into my ancient wicker creel. The smell of cool, morning mist rising off the water, and the sun streaming it’s golden way through scented pine branches, just thrills my soul. I feel the peace of God, and His pleasure, in these peaceful, quiet places. Why? Because I alone have taken the time to seek them out, discover and enjoy such beautiful places, which God created. This is my forest sanctuary where I carefully walk the stream bank and catch trout, meditate on His Word, delight myself in Him and feel the joy of life that this stream brings to everything it touches.

Especially in the grip of a brutal August heat wave, these wonderfully-cool places, deep in the forest, remind me of God and His ways. He is always there, ready to refresh all who come. When I find such a stream, I cherish it and keep it’s secrets all to myself. Each time I go there, I am amazed that everything near it is still green and flourishing, regardless of the dry conditions that may be all around. Berry bushes on it’s banks are lush and full of fruit, and trout are still swimming in it’s cool, dark pools. The tracks along it’s banks testify to the fact that birds and raccoons, foxes, deer and an occasional bear have all come to this holy place to drink, and they have satisfied their thirst.

This is a stream of living water, and just like being in God’s amazing presence, I have the endless pleasure of being here in the magnificent solitude, and enjoying it any time I so choose. There is nothing to hear but the stream itself or the call of birds and the wind in the trees. All of these calm my hurried thoughts. Best of all, there is no other human for miles, and that is just fine with me. I came here to fish, hear the whispers of God, and thank Him for this sacred place. It restores me in ways I cannot describe, and with a depth that only God can accomplish. I am humbled by all of it, right down to the very core of my being.

When I am rushed, when I am feeling pressured or worn out, all I need is the Lord and time alone on a trout stream. No matter what life has thrown at me, or how people have disappointed me, here is where I find rest for my soul and peace of mind. Worries fall away, the pull others have on me gets left for another day, and I find real peace. All I need is to sit on the bank of a trout stream and enjoy the sun filtering through the trees. Let me feel a pine-scented breeze gently caress my face, and I am happy. I hear the sound of water bubbling over rocks, and in that moment God is near, and I know that life is more than good, it is wonerful!

Let me encourage you to take the time to find your place of rest. It may be on a trout stream, a park bench, a favorite spot by the lake or alone in your own bedroom. Wherever it is, you need to go there by yourself on a regular basis and meet with God. Let Him come to you, direct your path and bring you to the place of living water. There, you can be like that bush on the bank of my trout stream. No matter what’s happening all around you, you can still be full of life, and give that life away to others.

 This is what life in Jesus is all about. He is the stream, the answer you have been looking for! My question today is, “why not let Him help you find all you have been hungry and thirsty for”? Sit down by this stream of life, and trust me when I say, you will not be disappointed. In fact,  He is more than you could ever imagine!

All you who are thirsty, come to the waters of life 💦 and drink your fill.. His love for you is more than enough to quench your deepest thirst and calm your greatest fear. He is with you always and He will give you rest!

Circles Of Life

concentric-circles-in-powerpointIn this season, God has really been dealing with me about my life’s work and my calling to develop others.  I have begun to realize how precious the time is that I have left, so what I do with that time, and who I invest it in, is extremely important. We are placed here by God for a reason, and that reason has a two-fold purpose. Number one, to accomplish our own destiny, and number two, to impact and influence the destiny of others. When those two purposes intersect, it is invigorating and life-changing for everyone. However, when relationships exist where the dots just don’t connect, these become a distraction that short circuits the purposes of God for everyone.

The truth is, we must know where people are in our circles of life, and then devote our time, and invest our lives, according to the circle in which they fall. If you have set your life up correctly from the beginning, you are already in good shape. You, and those in your circles, are reaping the rewards of being correctly aligned. Your time and energies have been invested in the right amounts, and in the right people, which set you both on a collision course with destiny.  I have seen this working seamlessly in some mighty men and women of God, and it is amazing to behold. I have also seen the opposite happen in my own life, and it was heart breaking. Time and energy was poured into individuals who were living in my outer circles.  They were far removed from the purposes of God in my life, either by choice or by chance, but I missed it. This was not only a distraction for both of us, even more tragic, it robbed others in my inner circles, of the time and personal care I should have been investing in them.

God showed me that the circles of my life are concentric rings of influence that surround me. The closer they are to the core of who I am, the more important they are to my destiny and well-being, and the destiny and well-being of others. Those circles closest to me must always be my personal priority.  My time, attention and care must always be devoted to them first, and these people must know they will always be in my line of sight. As I move outward from those primary circles, things change. How much time I devote, how available I am on a regular basis, and how much they may influence me, all becomes relative. Basically, the further someone is from the purposes of God for my life, the less vital that relationship is. I will always care, but the outer circles should never get my time, or availability, designed for those in the inner circles.

Circle 1 for me is my personal relationship with God. This is always the top priority if I am to stay healthy and balanced in life. Circle 2 is my wife and family. No matter what, I am ready to help, serve and be available for them any time of the day or night. In circle 3 are those who are the real doers in our church, and fellow ministers I work with. They are with me, have my back, help carry the vision and help carry the load. They joined up and hook up all the way and they serve with good hearts. I am always ready to hear them and serve them. When they call I pick up the phone. When they need me I am there. When they want to get coffee or spend time with me, I am available. The point is, our destinies, vision and service are all interconnected on a very personal level. These are my ministry companions and others are my sons and daughters in the faith who will get an inheritance, and be part of my legacy, when I am gone. As it has been said, “they will carry on when I am carried out”!

Those in circle 4 all are part of my church. They help as they can and are more-or-less faithful in giving and serving in any assigned responsibility. They do what they can, when they can, and for the most part I can depend on them. Some may not show up at the last minute, and others may have to cover for them. In circle 5 are those who come to church but never become a part of it. They may or may not give. They may come for work days or men’s and women’s meetings, but they are basically long term visitors. It is nice to see them, but I don’t depend on them to be on time or carry any of the load. There will be no training for these people, they will have little growth and I don’t expect them to do much more than show up when it works for them. They like the blessing and benefit of our church, but don’t like responsibility and don’t want to submit under authority. These people will never really find their place or do much in the Kingdom.

Finally, we have those in circle 6. This is the outer ring and the resting place of everyone else. They are basically just out there doing what they do. These may be friends or acquaintances, or those who simply intersect my path periodically as I am living the life God gave me. They come and they go, but they really are more like shadow figures who are not going where I am going and have no clear direction in life. Some are there to be evangelized, while others are those behind the counter I am kind to and want to bring to Christ. Those in circle 6 don’t ask deep spiritual questions and they don’t really want to know what is going on with me. They contribute nothing to the real purposes of God for my life and I an able to put very little into theirs.

What are your circles of life? Are they clearly defined for you and for those who surround you? If not, then you are probably doing what I did for way too many years. You are wasting the treasure of invested time, personal care and spiritual commitment on those who are not intimately connected to the purposes of God for your life. They may invade your space from time to time, and when they leave nothing has really changed. Love everyone, serve all those you can with a good and honest heart and be kind. However, when you give the right stuff to the wrong people, you are selling your greatest treasure to the lowest bidder, and that hurts everyone. If it continues, you will not fulfill the purpose of God for your life, and neither will they.

Let me encourage you to get your circles of life in order. They are like a “bulls eye” that every thing will be focused on. if you make them clear it’s easy to hit the mark and move forward with life. If you don’t everyone will suffer. Why not begin to day to clarify your circles of life? You will feel the pleasure of God in all you do. Trust me when I tell you that there is no better way to live life, and no better way to help others do the same!

“Carpe Diem”

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The phrase “carpe diem” is a Latin phrase that is literally translated as, “pluck the day”. However in English it is better translate as “seize the day”. Used in a variety of ways, “carpe diem” has both a positive and a negative application. On the negative side it describes an attitude or philosophy of life that says, “live for today, do what you want and don’t be concerned about the consequences in the future.” Carpe diem in it’s highest form means, “grab hold of the day you have been given and make the most of it”. I really like that!

The positive application of this phrase is the one I have been inspired by throughout my life. The word “carpe” means to grab hold of, or to grab something by the neck and hold it up. Don’t you just love the word picture that conjures up in your mind? It’s not some wimpy, limp wristed, fear filled thing that is overpowered by hesitancy. No! It’s a bold declaration that says, “ Everything needs to take notice that I am here, I am on this thing and I am giving it my full attention.” It’s a way of living that declares, “I am grabbing this thing by the neck and holding it up for all to see, and I am going to come out of this way better than when I went in.”

Man I love that kind of an attitude when it comes to every part of life, and I mean real, authentic life. It reminds me of a billboard I saw not long ago. There was a muscular military guy in boot camp and he straining to pull himself over an impossibly high wall. The caption underneath it said, “Pain… it’s just weakness leaving your body!” This is the mindset that says, “I will NOT let this situation overcome me, but I will use this situation to my advantage. This difficulty will not define me, it will refine me.” In case you missed it, those who tend to succeed in life understand this aspect of “carpe diem” and walk it out on a daily basis.

So, my question today is going to be right up in your face. I want to know something and your honest answer could be the thing that changes everything. Are you a wimpy whiner who feels life is tough and you are it’s constant victim? You may very well be in a hard situation, or be discouraged. I am not downplaying the pain you might be feeling right now. What I am saying is that you don’t have to let it define you and rule your life. Choose to face it, own it and then grab hold of it by the neck. Look for how you can use this “thing” to become stronger, more aware and more equipped as a person. Once you do that you can move out of your self-imposed, self-centered prison and start to help others.

“Seize The Day”! It’s the only way to really live your life in this fallen, broken, disconnected world. Stand up, look up, get shook up but refuse to give up. Defy the tendency to be ruled by mistakes, or what others have done or not done, said or not said. Begin to captain your own ship and learn how to take things where you want them to go. I was told by a wise old man some time ago, “Bill, if you let others drive, you have no right to complain about where they take you.” I say it’s your time to seize the day, take a risk, grab every issue by the throat and hold them up into the light!

Go live gloriously in the mistakes you will make and learn to enjoy the experience of failure so you can delight in the joy of victory when it finally comes. Refuse the meaningless, undeserved trophies of mediocrity life hands out to everyone. Embrace your magnificent failures, and in the process you will find the pleasure of living the life you always wanted. “Carpe Diem” my friends… anything less is not life at all. Now get out there and go seize the day!

When Planes Fall

On Apr 30, 2013 a huge civilian cargo plane had a deadly crashed at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan. The incident was actually caught on a dash camera. In the footage the aircraft can be seen climbing at a steep angle, then it appears to slow down, slide back and to the left, begins to drop straight down and then goes nose first into the ground. It explodes in a ball of fire killing all on board. This incident, though horrific to watch, is by no means an isolated event. Over the years numerous planes of every size and shape have experienced the same thing. The question is, why?

While studying to fly several years ago, I learned there is something called “angle-to-lift” ratio and also “speed-to-curvature” ratio. That is, the angle at which an aircraft can be tilted upward can only be so steep, and that is based upon it’s speed and the amount of curvature the wing has. Once it exceeds specific ratios, the air flow over the wing curvature is not sufficient to give the aircraft a thing called “lift”. At an angle that is too steep, no amount of engine thrust, (at that point called “false thrust”), can overcome this lack of airflow over the surface of the wings. This causes the plane to “stall”, and it simply begins to fall downward in mid flight.

A large stalled aircraft at high altitude can drop thousands of feet per minute, and an inexperienced pilot might never recognize what is happening. With no reference point to help, a pilot can quickly get disoriented. When seeing the altimeter drop while believing they are still moving forward on course, confusion will set in. One deadly crash showed the copilot increase the angle of ascent and crank up the engines producing nothing but “false thrust” without lift. Unfortunately both of these are the wrong thing to do in that situation. Thinking the problem was solved, and the altimeter was malfunctioning, the aircraft continue it’s deadly drop and slammed on it’s belly into the ocean. All on board were instantly killed.

A situation like this can end with disastrous results or it can be corrected within a few seconds. It all depends on what the pilot does once the plane has gone into a stall. When an aircraft stalls, no matter how much thrust the engines put out, or how much the angle of ascent is increased, the aircraft will never stop it’s downward drop. The solution is really quite simple. All the pilot has to is point the nose of the plane in the direction of fall and the laws of physics and aerodynamics immediately take over. Air will begin to flow over the curve of the wings, and as it does air pressure above the wings goes down while air pressure under the wings goes up. This literally pushes up on the wings which produces the necessary “lift” for the aircraft to fly.

Think about the life implications of that for just a moment. The solution is found by pointing a stalled aircraft into the direction of fall. In other words, once the plane faces into the problem, it gets what it needs to be lifted out of the situation. A don’t know about you but that little revelation just makes me want to shout. Facing the problems at hand, not pointing yourself away from them, is what brings the solution you need. What a great truth to uncover as you being a new year!

Is your life stalled out right now? Do you feel disoriented and left wondering why in the world you are not making any real progress? Are you losing altitude, and no amount of effort on your part seems to be making a difference? Let me suggest that it’s time to face the things you may have been trying to avoid. If your life has stalled out then you need to go nose down ane fly right into the thick of it. Begin to work through the turbulence at the lower altitudes until you will feel the lift under your wings.

Your best destination is still out there and your ability to reach it is still within your grasp. All you need to do is learn the lesson provided by every plane that soars overhead. The right thrust, the right angel with enough airflow and you are good to go. Let 2017 be your year to reach the high place, fly through the low place and obtain the prize that awaits you. It is time to start you engine, because you have just been cleared for take off. Now go fly into that high place and begin to see the world from a more heavenly perspective. 

Avoiding The “Drama Dump”

dump

It is 6am on Christmas Eve morning, and I am enjoying a hot cup of Bengal Spice tea in the light of my Christmas tree. I am settled back into a large, well-padded, comfortable chair and soaking in all the solitude that surrounds me. The house is peaceful and warm, the road outside has no traffic and dawn is just showing over the ridge that is east of my house. I can see a flock of Chickadees flitting back and forth, grabbing a breakfast of sunflower seeds from the bird feeder I made and placed outside the window. This is a moment of morning seclusion, a sanctuary of quietness that I frequently enjoy, and always need. Why?  Because of the drama that often tries to surround our lives.

We live in a world that is overrun by pressures and the tyranny of the urgent needs of others that seem to hijack our life. Those we love and those we just know, have lives that are  often filled with drama, and this spills over onto us. We become collateral damage, so to speak, from the life issues, pain or stupid decisions others have made. For some, holiday time brings this into high gear and this can be rather emotionally draining. For others, it is simply an annoying frustration that they know will soon pass.

I am happy to say that I have finally learned how to move beyond the emotional baggage others want to unpack on my doorstep. I have discovered how not to be “dramatized” by the endless needs of others, and this revelation has changed my life. Let me take a moment to share my secret with you this Christmas season. It may just rescue you from yet another difficult time of year.

After a particularly demanding and emotionally draining time, I felt as if the life had been sucked out of me by the drama others were going through. Without knowing it, I had became the “host” animal, and emotional lamprey’s had attached themselves to me, hitched a ride and had been sucking the life juices out of me for months. In my attempt to help everyone, I was killing my own joy of living. My wife was impacted by it and my family and friends were getting the leftovers that remained. Needless to say this was the wrong order for things and I knew it had to stop.

Then one day I was talking with my wife about yet another emotional dump that had happened with those we loved. Perhaps I should say she was talking to me, and that conversation lit something within. Not long after this, an idea hit me during my quiet time in the early morning hours. I began to categorize the people, the drama and the outcomes that had been used to hijack my life. What I realized was that every situation fell into one of four categories, and that was a revelation. Once I discovered which category things fit into, every emotional bloodsucker fell off me. It was amazing!

The categories are actually simple filters that bring into focus what my role should be when someone wants to unpack their baggage and have a “drama dumped” at my front door. As you read these over, think of situations you may have been drawn into and see if this might help. They have worked well in my life, and my wife will tell you that we are all much better off since I put these into practice. The four “drama dump filters” are;

  1. ICA – I Can Advise (but you must do what I say).
  2. ICL – I Can Listen (but I don’t drag your drama with me).
  3. ICC – I Can Comfort (but you must be willing to change).
  4. ICH – I Can’t Help (because this is your issue. It’s not my monkey to carry).

When a drama dump comes your way, take a moment to pass it through the “drama dump filter” and watch what happens. Very quickly things will come into focus and the emotional bloodsuckers of life will fall away. When you don’t unpack the emotional baggage others want to drop on your doorstep, it is rather liberating.  Don’t allow others to leave their emotional junk mail in your mailbox, where you will be stuck opening it. It’s time to get your life back. Help where you can, listen when you are able, and leave others to the life they have made for themselves! Do yourself a favor and let the best come out of you this Holiday season. With a little practice, you can begin to live your life  with joy once again.

May God bless you, and may you have a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.