Understanding Yes

Yesterday gave me the answer to a question. The question had to do with having said yes and wondering how that particular yes was going to work out. Turns out, pretty good…way better than expected.

The older I get the more weight each yes carries. What I’ve noticed this year focusing on flow, saying yes doesn’t always mean everything’s in order. In fact, the best yes results so far have started with very little in order.

Improving on flow and yes seems to only come by experience. It’s a product of better listening, deeper trust, and reduced paralysis from fear. These improvements, our growth, comes from both our wins and our losses.

For example, David started out with some significant yes wins. He didn’t always have everything in order the moment he said yes, like when he said, “I can take down Goliath.” Five stones later, the flow and the yes made sense. Years later, that win was countered by another yes (Bathsheba) that resulted in lifelong losses. The level at which he flowed with God determined the win or loss of his yes.

Abraham is another example. When God first asked him for a yes, Abraham had no idea how it would work out. But he followed and reaped the benefits of not expecting to understand everything ahead of time. The bumps in the road between then and saying yes to sacrificing Isaac certainly had some losses, but Abraham learned from them and improved his flow and yes to an ultimate level of sacrifice (Genesis 22).

Determining the unity of a yes with Holy Spirit flow can be tricky. One key is discerning where the wish to answer yes is coming from-my own desires or his. And often that discernment can look like asking these three questions:

  1. What is God telling me?
  2. What is God not telling me?
  3. What do I want God to tell me?

None of these questions are bad questions. But I’ve found that the only one that really matters is what is God telling me. Without the answer to that question, a yes or no shouldn’t even be given. I’m also finding that my best understanding of yes is pretty simple. If God is asking for a yes, it’s the best answer. His higher ways and thoughts support my yes. My understanding, secondary to his glory, will come when he’s done with my yes.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Be Light

As the Community Care Director for a counseling center, it’s not uncommon to be in conversations about suicide. Yet, no matter how common it may be, it has yet to feel normal.

And the reason why is because it’s not. It’s a sign of hurt and pain. We live in a broken world, which can result in people’s minds taking them down this dark road. And it’s no respecter of minds.

  • The middle-age pastor’s mind that goes home after leading a Sunday service and questions why he should go on.
  • The twelve-year-old middle schooler’s mind that leads her to a parking lot where she chooses to end her pain.
  • The senior citizen’s mind that says, “I’m done fighting this battle with my body.”

As I witnessed again this morning, when a hurting mind is met with love, empathy, and strength, healing is available. It’s not instantaneous; it’s one step at a time. A step, however small it may be, toward the light may be all that mind needs to stop spiraling into darkness.

Be light to those you know or suspect are lonely, hurting, or in pain. That is normal. And it needs to be more common.

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

Bunker Life Lessons

This transpired yesterday during Kramer Hickock‘s 3rd round of the PGA Championship in Tulsa.

So many life lessons can be drawn from Hickock’s situation, response, and result.

Rather than me sharing a list for you, I encourage you to watch it several times and make your own list.

After you watch it once, start your list.

Each time you watch it, add more life lessons to your list until you get at least three.

Then share these lessons with someone soon.

We can learn so much from life’s bunker moments. Keys to making these lessons stick with us include pausing to mark them, making note of them, and sharing them. They have more of a chance to become part of us when we do more than just notice them.

Happy Pausing, Noting, and Sharing!

Photo by Peter Drew on Unsplash

Balancing Precision and Fluidity

You never know what you’re going to learn by reading a book. Such was the case while reading chapter three in The Shallows by Nicholas Carr.

Chapter Three, “Tools of the Mind,” shares the history and impact of maps, clocks, and language on intellectual development. Carr includes these three in the same technology category, the intellectual technologies. He wrote that maps expanded man’s spatial technology. What maps did for space, clocks did for time.

To describe life before the creation of clocks, Carr quotes French medievalist Jacques Le Goff who said life was “dominated by agrarian rhythms, free of haste, careless of exactitude, unconcerned by productivity.” Hard to imagine such a life. Thinking about it presents a mixture of envy and gratitude.

Carr then shared this bit of history relaying how and why clocks came to be:

Life began to change in the latter half of the Middle Ages. The first people to demand a more precise measurement of time were Christian monks, whose lives revolved around a rigorous schedule of prayer. In the sixth century, Saint Benedict had ordered his followers to hold seven prayer services at specified times during the day. Six hundred years later, the Cistercians gave new emphasis to punctuality, dividing the day into a regimented sequence of activities and viewing any tardiness or other waste of time to be an affront to God. Spurred by the need for temporal exactitude, monks took the lead in pushing forward the technologies of timekeeping. It was in the monastery that the first mechanical clocks were assembled, their movements governed by the swinging of weights, and it was the bells in the church tower that first sounded the hours by which people would come to parcel out their lives.

Like Carr, I don’t share this to make a slam, but to make an observation. Balance is a tricky thing. Some would even say it’s an impossible thing. But like holiness, it’s worth pursuing.

When it comes to time, we can get imbalanced by rigidity and carelessness. We can get lost in the black and white as well as the disregard for parceling and regimentation.

As those seeking to walk in the Spirit, may we follow his lead in the moments when precision is best and when fluidity is lifegiving.

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

6 Signs of a Great Dad

Yesterday, I heard a dad make two comments in response to things said to him about his children.

The first was about his preschool-age son. Apparently he wasn’t feeling well. When asked about what may have caused the sickness, the dad basically said, “You never know with him.” He didn’t say this with disgust; more like, “He’s his own man.”

The second was about his elementary-age daughter. In talking about how they chose to sit where they were seated, she was given credit for the choice. Dad’s response: “She’s a natural leader.” He didn’t say this with pride; more like, “I can only imagine what’s in store for her.”

I don’t know this dad that well. We’re at the acquaintance stage. But these two comments tell me some things about him.

  • He loves his kids.
  • He respects his kid’s personhood.
  • He’s parenting with the future in mind.
  • He’s not a control freak.
  • He’s pursuing contentment.
  • He’s got a pretty good grasp on his identity.

Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash

Discovery Run

I did myself a favor. I stuck around another night in Jacksonville after the wedding last Saturday.

What do I have to show for it? For starters, Peterbrooke (well, I did…it didn’t last long), a good movie, and a great dinner.

But the best was my Sunday morning run. I got in 3.8 Saturday morning before meeting friends for breakfast before the wedding. But Sunday morning was what weekend running is all about. No time limits. No expectations. Just exploration. A chance to discover.

The little running I did when I lived in Jacksonville (’90-’02) was all neighborhood (Arlington, Mandarin). I never ran downtown. So I was excited to run around the AirBnB in Springfield and, since it was only a few miles south, Downtown.

There’s a vibe when you run downtown in any city. It’s not the isolation of the country or the ease of a neighborhood. There’s an energy. Even in the absence of traffic, there’s a sense of life unlike anywhere else. And I like it. Especially in the early morning hours.

From running the Main Street bridge, to hearing church bells ring, to discovering Henry J. Klutho Park, it was one of the most pleasant runs in recent memory.

Thank you, Jacksonville! You put a smile on my face every time.

Love Is All Around

I have nine nieces and nephews through the marriages of my three sisters. As of last Saturday, five of them are married. Niece Emily married Connor-the first opportunity I’ve had to be present as an uncle.

The word blossom was used often by the minister and others who voiced words of blessing and prayers over Emily and Connor. Surveying our family, those there and those elsewhere, I like to think the blossoming of love in our family has already happened. What continues to happen is the pollination of love.

Their parent’s love blossomed over 25 years ago. The result of that love is more than a fuller flower. It is a field of flowers. It is love multiplying. Some of those flowers may be still little buds waiting to blossom into marriage. Yet they get to experience the love from all the other flowers in the family field.

The view from this bachelor’s flower in the field is unlike the rest of the family’s. Like any other unmarried person, I’m tempted to believe the whispered lie that I haven’t found love yet. To that I say, lift up your eyes. There’s love all around. The widowed great grandmother and the yet-to-be-married have love.

In their maids of honor speech, Emily’s two sisters joked the three have become two. They also said they welcomed Connor as a brother. They haven’t lost love; they’ve gained love. They aren’t without love; they have received more love.