Do Your Best…

We are told “do your best”! But what if your best isn’t:

a) good enough?
b) possible?
c) worth the effort given the circumstance/time frame?
d) [fill in the blank]

And how often do you find yourself disappointed in others when they don’t choose to do “their best”?

There are many times I don’t give my best effort. I make plenty of mistakes. Sometimes I am tired and overcommitted. And if I wait to be sure I only “do my best” than some things simply won’t ever be done! Can you relate?

What is good enough? What is close enough? If you berate someone for their effort–even if you know it wasn’t their best effort–what are you accomplishing?

If you have demanded or simply expected the best of others this week it is very likely you were disappointed with the results. Aside from Jesus, perfection isn’t possible. So look at those around around you. Look for ways to encourage and celebrate their contributions. Don’t always try to sneak in correction with a compliment. Recognize that there often isn’t only one right way. Instruction is good but constant instruction can be exhausting to receive.

Have you been too hard on yourself because you have made decisions that weren’t “the best” and they have lead you to a difficult place? I think we probably all have regrets. And some of our concern for others involves our regrets about our own behavior. Most people will not glean as much from the experiences of others as they will from their own experiences, as difficult to watch as that may be. Most people learn life lessons by living their life.

If you have been difficult to live with due to your incredibly high expectations of yourself or others, maybe it is time to re-evaluate your hopes and dreams. Be sure they are closer in line with reality and bathed in God’s love and grace. No one makes the best choice or invests their best effort all the time and your response to those choices will say a lot about the future of your relationship. Your love and grace can make all the difference!

1 Corinthians 13:1-8

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

People Watching…People Praying…

I love people!

I have always been fascinated by the variety in people–hair and skin color, sizes and shapes but I also love (and sometimes hate) the dynamics in relationships and what makes people tick and personalities and where they have been and where they are going! It seems to be easier to observe the sheer variety of people here in New York because I feel pretty anonymous and pretty average. Grand Central Station is a great place to people watch but so is the train, the subway, the doctor’s office, the coffee shop. And, to be honest, when someone looks or behaves in an interesting way, most people have a tendency to take note. I think that is the point behind out-standing looks or behavior ~ the desire to be seen.

Do you ever find yourself wondering about everyone’s story? Or is it just me?

I am one of those people that tries to give people the benefit of the doubt and that is much easier to do when I am in a good space. I really have no clue what most people have been through and why certain things affect people in so many different ways. I only truly know me and what goes on in my brain when I am making a decision.

And sometimes I clearly was not thinking when I made some wild decisions but that is a post for another day.

When I have a moment to observe and ponder, I often pray. I pray that God blesses, comforts, and provides for that person and meets them at their need. I pray God brings people into their lives that are encouraging and uplifting and supportive. I pray for the people in their lives. I pray that God reveals Himself to them through the gift of Faith.

Next time you are out and about, there might be someone like me near you. And if they are anything like me, they will wonder about your life and what brought you here to this moment and how this journey is going for you…

They might wonder about the hard places you have been and wondered what brings refreshment to your soul and if you have someone you can call when life is hard…

If everyone picked out a “stranger” to pray for just think how it might change their perspective towards them. That really frustrating person in line might have a back story no one could even possibly imagine, let alone live through. Sometimes it is easier to pray for someone we know less about because their questionable behavior doesn’t affect us quite so personally and the disconnect provides us with a perspective and a patience. And might I offer that there are plenty of people in the world that no one is praying for…of course, we don’t know who those people are but it stands to reason that not everyone has someone praying for them.

If all the People Watching were People Praying what a kind of place would the world be?

Time for friendships…

I appreciate the variety of friends God has brought into my life! And while strong friendships do not need daily, weekly or even monthly contact, it is important to check in on occasion.

Is there one person you miss and haven’t been in touch with in the last year or more? If you are like me, there are probably many more than just one. But take this as an encouragement to commit to connecting with one person this week with a homemade card, a handwritten letter, a text, a phone call or a visit.

I was able to do just that within the last week…a long overdue conversation with a dear dear friend. It started with a text…and moved to a possible day to connect…then switched to another day…but it finally happened and was a wonderful pause in a busy week! It was a blessing and encouragement to both of us!

Has someone special crossed your mind yet?

Are you waiting for a friend to contact you? Consider making the first move! True friendships don’t always have to be tit for tat on connecting. I have a lot of grace when it comes to friendships because there are many times in my own life when the seasons have been so busy and it takes some time to come out of it and look around and see beyond the immediate needs of small children, aging parents, illness, job changes, etc. If we haven’t been in touch within the last year, well, it has been awfully crazy for me so I assume it has been at least a little crazy for you too.

If you are a little behind in your connecting, pick one friend a month (that’s 12 for 2014) to connect with via a phone call or a letter. And by the end of this year you will be on your way to catching up!

Routine…

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Predictable…Consistent….Reliable….

It’s the New Year and as I evaluate where I have been and where I am going I feel like I could use some more routine in my life. I seem to go in spurts of focus and that takes a toll on my consistency. Of course, we just came off of a wild year so I am craving a little predictability, I suppose. I don’t do a load of laundry every day to keep up with it. I typically do a day of laundry so I can focus on it. [Really, who am I kidding? Don usually does the laundry now…] But when I was doing laundry I tried to get it all done in a day because it was easier to focus on getting it all done in one day instead of a little every day.

I don’t know how this idea of routine will work for me. And I surely won’t do this in every area of my life but I will in two areas for sure and one of them is PrayerPoints. I have weighed the pros and the cons of the 40 days of Lent posts against a weekly consistency for a couple of years. The truth is, I like focusing on it for 40 days and leaving it up to chance (and, consequently, minimal posting the rest of the year). With my mind very intentionally focused for those 40 days, I feel like I could easily write 100 PrayerPoints because there are so many things that lead my mind down that path. But I don’t like that I don’t ponder quite as much (nor commit to paper as much) during the rest of the 325 days.

This year I will embark on a new routine! On Sunday or Monday of each week I will post a PrayerPoint. In the end, I am only committing to 52 PrayerPoints vs 40 PrayerPoints. it’s hardly an increase. But switching it up will switch up my routine. And I feel like that is something I need right now. It will help me to practice being consistent.

As you think about the routines in your life you certainly will find some that should stay, some that should be eliminated, and some that should be initiated. I challenge you to think about one area you plan to be intentional about this year and whisper it to someone you trust. Let them cheer you on and help you dust off the dirt if you fall. Sharing your journey–the good and the bad–the encouragement and the disappointment–is one of the blessings on being here on this Earth at the exact same moment as the others in your life! Then set about charting your course for success by making a plan. Allow yourself for some grace and take it one step at a time!

And when you are ready to make your whisper a shout, I would love to know what you are working on this year!

I learned several important things this year….

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After a wild and crazy year I have discovered a few important things. Here are my top ten so far:

Family ~ Our kids really like each other and like to spend time together. How did I learn that? Well, I suspected it because they would get together separately for lunch out, movie night or some other way of connecting. But, boy oh boy, move 2 of them 14 hours away from the other 2 and there is no end to the complaints about our new situation! Heart warming and heart wrenching at the same time!

Love ~ I hung out with Don for most of a day nearly every day (in less than ideal circumstances) for 5 months AND we got along great! If that is a glimpse into retirement, we should do just fine.

History ~ You never know who from your past will make an appearance in your future. And you never know who in your today won’t be involved in your life ever again. Relationships are funny things so celebrate who is around you and what they mean to you today!

Plans ~ Sometimes plans you have made get put on hold one way or another by things completely out of your control. Don’t be caught spinning in circles while you wait for the next thing. While it looks like nothing is happening in that cocoon or chrysalis from the outside, the inside is experiencing an amazing transformation that needs a certain amount of time to pass. Don’t waste your time while you wait!

Discovery ~ The person I was 30, 20, 10, 5, and 2 years ago was the person in the middle of becoming who I am today. It is easier to be me now, I suppose. There were many bunny trails early on that were distracting although they each helped me learn and better define who (and Whose) I am. And if you learn something from them it wasn’t wasted time. All is redeemable in the hands of God ~ the trick is in learning how to release it to Him and let Him do it in His time!

Beauty ~ There is so much beauty out in the world! ~ in your home, yard, community, state, nation, and the world! Wow! From simple to complex. Open your eyes, heart, and mind and get engaged with the world around you!

Quiet ~ I used to always want music on–even as I was going to bed as a teenager and college student. Now I crave quiet or at least only “natural” noise. I definitely plan to take more time this year to step away from the craziness and celebrate and savor the quiet.

New ~ So much has been “new” for me lately and it is taking a lot more energy than I thought it would to adjust to everything. In general, I don’t mind change. I can handle a few new this and thats but orienting to many new realities at the same time is taking me longer than I thought. Be sure to give yourself some extra margin if you travel down an unfamiliar path!

Trust ~ It takes time to develop relationships with people you trust. I don’t know very many people on personal level in New York besides Don, Elizabeth, and Hannah but I don’t feel like it’s a problem at this point because there are so many different things happening in the adjustment and I can’t imagine adding in other things right now! I know the relationships will come with time. How do I know? When we moved to Evansville in 2006 I only knew Don and our four kids. And as we adjusted and lived and breathed and played in our new town we met lots and lots of precious people. I absolutely trust God will take care of these details again for us in New York.

Perspective ~ Your perspective makes a HUGE difference in what you see. If you are looking for reasons to be miserable (in a marriage, at your job, in your town, in your church) you will likely find your “proof”. If you look for the interesting, the positive, the “good” in any situation, you will likely find that as well. Seek and you will find…so be careful what you are looking for!!!

What did you learn in 2013?