A DESK DISASTER!

a desk disaster

MY PERSONAL DESK DISASTER

I read a very thought provoking post last week by Jake over at verymuchlater.com about his messy desk. He went on to use the clutter on his desk and specifically his dead camera that he hadn’t tossed out as an analogy of our lives.

I considered my desk that looks like someone tossed a grenade on and decided I’d like to write about the same subject. Jake gave me the thumbs up to use his post as my inspiration. By the way, I’d highly recommend a visit to Jake’s site, first a heads up. It’s great reading, but there is no candy coating over at verymuchlater.com, Jake calls it like it is.

I had to take a few moments to figure out how my desk got to be such a disaster. The rest of my home office looks fine, my wife even dusted it for me last week, but the desk? No one would know where to start, including me.

I realize my desk is like many things in life that become a little messy and out of sorts. It starts with being a little lax or maybe just plain lazy and so begins the pattern. The same pattern my youngest falls into with her room, the difference is we punish her for the example we’ve set in some cases.

It’s a good thing my office isn’t part of a glass house the way I’ve been tossing stones around lately.

The desk disaster started with some research papers I had compiled for a manuscript I was working on but have now scrapped. I didn’t want to throw them away, I might pick the writing back up, then I’ll need that information for sure. I don’t really have a perfect place to store something like an unfinished manuscript and the piles of research papers to go with it, but I do have a place…

The rejection letters I’ve received from literary agents I kept where they could be seen in a neat stack that somehow seemed to grow with all kinds of papers. Now I have to assume those rejection notices that I use for inspiration are still under there somewhere.

My Bible study materials I sort of figured was like making a bed, I’m gonna be using them soon so why go to the bother of putting them back on the shelf when I’m gonna be taking them back down?

That’s how the snowball started, it picked up momentum along the way and now seems like an unstoppable monster. I can’t clean it up, I don’t have the time or know where to start!

Maybe some of you reading have an area of your life like that as well? My office represents the lives of many people I think. We’re pretty disciplined and have almost everything in our lives together, except for that one thing. The whole life or office looks perfect, but somewhere in that life or office we find that weakness, a desk disaster.

Most times the weakness is spawned in our flesh and the lack of discipline or human laziness keeps us from doing the right thing; Reaching toward God for His strength for discipline in our lives.

It’s easy to spot other people’s desk disasters in our lives, they aren’t the same ones we have so we can’t relate to them in some cases. Sometimes you can hear people talk about others perceived weaknesses, other times the voices doing a fair amount of the judging comes from inside us.

“Look at Sam Wafar, he’s everywhere, and sooooo greedy”!  “Did you see what Susie Que was wearing –she’s got some issues to be dressing like that”!  “How about Floyd’s desk, it looks like his clothes”! Then there are the other messes or sometimes disasters that are unseen.

Like most weaknesses, the pattern starts with one action, one act lacking self-discipline. It’s human nature. One person can drop a piece of trash in a field and before long it looks like a dump.

The solution to the problem will take an enormous amount more discipline to clean up than it would have taken to do the right thing the first time. God gives us the opportunity to clean up our lives and especially the extra messy parts no one else can see.

The clean up process starts just in reverse of how the mess got there in the first place, one piece at a time…

My guess is that we all have something that needs a good spring cleaning, even if it is Winter…

THE RACE

the race

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We’ve been encouraging our kids to read the Bible faithfully for years. About three or four years ago I became a little more vocal of my desire for them to read the Bible start to finish, the whole thing cover to cover.

I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised a few years back that Kenz shared with us she had started and was going to read the Bible cover to cover. She kept us updated occasionally on her progress and included  her opinion on how difficult it was. “I’m never gonna remember any of this, I don’t even understand some of what I’m reading”! she announced regularly.

“It doesn’t matter, you’ll get more out of it than you know, you’ll gain deeper wisdom than you have any idea of right now,” was my typical response, then I’d add something like, “Good for you, you’re actually doing it. You know how many people have never done what you’re doing”? — “Keep it up, you’ll be glad you did”!

I never attempted to read the Bible cover to cover when I was her age, I was too busy chasing the wind. It’s a difficult task for her with school and all, but she gives us updates over the years as to where she’s at in her quest to read the Bible. She’s not setting any speed record, but she’s hasn’t quit, she hasn’t thrown in the towel.

I look around and watch people work on their goals and dreams, but the majority of them give up, throw in the towel and  quit at the first road block or difficulty that falls in their path. I’ve done some of my own towel tossing along the way.

I used to tell this same story over the years I coached girls Lacrosse. I told it so often that soon if I sensed the girls were lacking passion I’d only have to threaten them with this story to make my point.

In school one year at an away track meet, my coach asked me, well actually told me I’d have to run the 880 yard race. I typically ran the 220 and 440. Even though I didn’t want to run that race in addition to my other ones, I set in my head to win that race.

The race came down to only two of us, me and the now infamous kid who was only known to me by his last name, “Grimes.” I kept him on my outside shoulder around all the turns and worked him to never let him have the inside line. We were stride for stride coming around the last turn less than 100 yards from the finish line.

I was sprinting with all I had left in my tank thinking I’d bury him in the last 20 yards. With less than 20 yards left he started edging ahead of me, with less than 10 yards he had a half stride on me. With less than 5 yards, he had a full stride on me…

That’s where I quit… My sprint turned into a jog for the last two strides. My fate was sealed, I would have to settle for second.

The point of my story isn’t that I finished second or didn’t win, the point is I didn’t give 100% through the finish line. I’ve regretted that race my whole life. That little incident inspired me to never quit at anything I’m endeavoring to do regardless if I’m winning or pulling up the rear.

I’ve learned what our oldest seems to have figured out, run the race of this life with intention, perseverance, and we win regardless of where we place. To run the race of life with God as the catalyst and passion sets us up to finish the race with no chance of losing.

Kenz walked into the kitchen Saturday morning, she didn’t say good morning. She asked me a loaded question, “Guess what I did this morning”? With one wary eyebrow raised I answered a bit harshly, “What.” “I FINISHED REVELATION THIS MORNING”!!! She gushed. “Are you kidding”? I asked knowing yet still dumbfounded. “Yep, I finished it”! she was floating.

“I can’t tell you how proud  I am of you girl”! — “Good job”! –“Congratulations-that’s awesome”! I was floating too.

It took her a while, but she’s figuring out this race of life…

She’s learning it’s not about how you start, it’s how you finish…

THE BUSINESS OF CHANGE

the business of change

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I stood behind him in line at the hardware store… There he was, one of my adolescent hero’s… The voice that got me through two-a-day football practices in high school one year.

One of his songs has become the anthem for all kids to officially ring in the summer. Do you remember the song? Here’s the chorus to refresh your memory.

“Well we can’t salute ya, can’t find the flag.”

“If that don’t suit ya, that’s a drag.”

“Schools out for summer – Schools out for summer.”

Ahh, now you remember. Alice Cooper, of course! He’s old now… The music is timeless, but he’s not. He actually looks good, but it’s been over thirty years since he dominated shock rock.

None of us have a choice, with time we change. While we don’t have complete control of how we change physically, we do have a choice as to if we change spiritually. I’m not trying to get into a Calvinistic debate, I’m simply referring to our free will. Yes God calls us, but we have to be willing and obedient to His call then and now.

I think Vincent Furnier, or who we call Alice Cooper is a great example of God’s call and the ensuing change. I haven’t seen too many rock stars acknowledge God and strive to live a Godly life.

About four years ago our friends who’s oldest daughter was getting Baptized invited us to their church for the Baptism. As I sat glancing around at the beautiful church a guy up in the balcony caught my eye. He had sunglasses on, I thought to myself, “What kind of guy wears sunglasses to church”? I looked closer and then realized, “Why Alice Cooper, of course.”

I’m not vouching for his walk with God, but I know enough about him to know this; There’s a guy trying, maybe even succeeding, who knows for sure but God?

I consider the changes that God has orchestrated in my life that started with His forgiveness. My life is now as far east as it was from west, at least in God’s economy anyway. I’ve forgotten some of the details of my past, which I think in some cases is a blessing from God. I remember enough to realize the change has been miraculous.

The sure sign that God is in someone’s life is change. How can the miraculous change in Jesus Christ’s disciples be explained otherwise? A group of regular people who ran in fear for their lives and hid from the world like cowards.

After they saw a resurrected Jesus Christ they understood the temporariness of this soul cage and the eternity of the souls themselves. This change in the disciples changed the world. That change God used in those people continue to change the world today, one heart at a time.

Their change from coward to men of courage ultimately cost them their physical lives. They knew the risks of speaking the truth to a lost world and they understood the implications of teaching about the true King of Kings in a censored society. Yet they chose to live a life of change even in the face of death.

These people’s changed lives are recorded and God used their lives to change the course of humanity. This country wouldn’t exist the way it does if not for that supernatural change.

I think back to some changes in my life and the impact it had on others in my small world. Change is difficult, but it is good if done for the right reasons. I’ve come to realize the best way to measure if it’s done for the right reason, is to ask ourselves if it is about us or others. All of us know the answer to the questions of the heart.

Change isn’t for the faint of heart, it is difficult and will require a bit of courage relative to the significance of the business of change. Changing the world is our heritage passed down from those that knew fear yet lived above it looking up and out from themselves with wisdom.

I’m sure Alice Cooper is honored to have been selected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I’m even more certain he’s relieved to know that his name has been selected to God’s Book of life.

Alice Cooper is living proof that God is in the business of changing people’s lives. As I look back over my life I guess I am too…

What would you say to a famous childhood musical influence you had a chance encounter with in the hardware store? Would you ask about the music, the songs, the inspiration?

We talked about light bulbs…

SHOESTRINGS

shoestrings

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With all the modern advances in our society, it’s been an understandable oversight to miss the amazing advances in shoestrings. Far be it from me to pass up something as important as this, you know I tackle the big issues!

As kids, it wasn’t uncommon to see the majority of us, especially boys with knotted together shoestrings keeping the tennis shoes on our feet. I remember vividly the “snap” of the cotton shoestrings upon a morning lace up.

We were masters of makeshift, quickly tying the knot below the eyelet where the string snapped and fishing the lace back through the eyelet, finishing with a less energetic pull on the now weakened string before the bow knot. If the plastic wrapped tip was gone off the tip of the shoestring the threading of the string back through the eyelet could be a difficult task. A quick lick of the thumb and forefinger, a twirling of the frayed members of the shoestring and the string was ready for eyelet re-entry.

No one thought much of this endless battle with shoestrings, it was just part of life. In a very elementary way, it prepared us for real life. Things break or don’t always go the way we plan them in this life and surprises are a reality in life that no one would argue with.

Don’t get me wrong I think the new shoestrings being thinner and stronger is a good thing, human ingenuity to make something smaller, better, and having solved an ageless problem is great.

The prevalent problem is beginning to be the belief that some things don’t break or that they shouldn’t. I don’t know anyone I’ve ever met that hasn’t been broken. Everyone and everything break in time, some sooner than others.

After we break we set out to mend ourselves just like we did our shoestrings when we were kids. Tie it up whatever it is and just pull a little easier on it the next time. Sometimes we don’t pull on our heart strings anymore at all in fear of snapping one again.

Some of our heart strings aren’t as strong as other people’s, but with time everybody gets their turn to snap theirs. Those repaired shoelaces carried us into some fun games, we never let a snapped shoe string keep us out of any game for too long.

So it should be for the snapped heart strings as well. Maybe we shouldn’t put our heart strings in a position to be pulled tight so often that they will snap prematurely. The great thing about our unseen heart strings is that they can be more than knotted or mended, they can be completely restored to their original strength.

God is in the business of miracles and one of those miracles is healing our hearts. All things physical within us or from without will break while living this life.  The question becomes if we let that incident define our life. Will we move forward like a child leaping back into the game with hope in our hearts, or will we let an accident change our perspective, sit on the sidelines of life and watch everyone else play the game God designed us to play called life?

As we get older I think we learn from experience the warning signs set before us that enable us to avoid some shoe or heart string breaks. There are people with troubles in this world that can affect our lives like a cancer. Those people read like street signs, “Slippery When Wet,” or “Dangerous Curves Ahead.”

As a kid, I’d never have broken my shoestrings on purpose. Why adults ignore God given warnings of potential breaking of our heart strings in personal and professional settings  I’m still trying to figure out. That, of course, includes mostly self-introspection. I think one is called wisdom, the other? Folly…

Thank God He can put together my heart strings infinitely better than I ever did my snapped shoestrings…

PRAYING

praying

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Last night right before dinner I asked Ali, “You wanna pray”? I say it as a question, but it’s not really a question, it’s an honor. There is something very peaceful and settling to have everyone home and to hear them pray.

I do the majority of of the prayers, but I also direct others in my family when I feel led. As we were bowing our heads to pray, an odd thing occurred. A conversation I had with a guy I know from the gym from months before pop into my head.

I wrote a post about our youngest’s first day of school back in August, some of you might remember it, it is titled THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. She was nervous that day and I shared how I asked her if she wanted to pray. I described how I pushed back from the table and she sat on my knee as I prayed for her, the teachers, and other students.

I remembered the day after the guy from the gym I’ll call Carl read it and his reaction. His laugh and sarcastic tone popped into my mind and his questions, “Do people really live like that? “I thought that was only in stories”!

I find it interesting how our culture has twisted faith and trust in God into a weakness. Yet they bow and worship their God, usually their flesh inspired education, nature, or vices for their mind.

The most courageous people that God has used to change and influence the world are the ones who sought and bowed before Him. They didn’t, and we don’t kneel before man and this flesh in order to honor it, we have no faith in this flesh.

We only have faith in the God who’s imprint is all over the history of mankind. The miracle and power of God is evident for everyone to see unless a person is blinded and perishing.

I’m not yet the Stephen kind of Christian martyr, I’m more like an early Peter, looking to use a sword to cut someone’s ear off, not a great trait, but God’s working on me, have a little patience…

I shared with Carl the fact that I only bow before the Creator of the cosmos. We actually had an in-depth discussion and I have to admit I like this guy. I pray God likes him too, of course I told him that as well.

Last night even after all this time my heart breaks for Carl, I’m not saying my daughters are perfect, far from it, but they do know the truth and consider God and His will in their lives. Carl has issues with his daughter that will affect them both for the rest of their lives.

Carl has a boat load of difficulties in his life like most of us, yet with all his problems in life he scoffs at the very power that allows his every breath. As my family prayed I thought of him… I’m sad in spirit for what he could have, but doesn’t, at least not yet.

As a new year gets under way I can only think of God and pray as he puts it in my heart. God knows the desires of my heart, He knows everything about all of us. The question becomes will we live by the flesh like the rest of the world, or will we smile like Stephen even during persecution or difficult times?

What benefit will we be to the world on God’s behalf this year? What will we do with the gift of free will in 2011? We all get to use that gift to make a decision about how we’re going to live. Will we be trapped in our flesh fearing what might be around the next corner and financial quarter, or will we charge the corner and quarter with hope?

I need to remind myself of the hope we all have in God. Hope the way God designed it is confidence… I will kneel and bow my head humbly before my Father and Saviour, the only beings worthy of that respect and adoration. He will give us strength to stand back up and face the world without fear.

That is what I’m praying for in 2011…

I pray God opens the eyes, hearts, and minds of His people and this country to live in understanding of His sovereignty over all mankind.

Nothing happens here without God’s will or consent.

I believe understanding this truth alone will bring about a Happy New Year.