Diving with Crocodiles

On our last trip to South Africa we were given the opportunity to go cage diving with crocodiles.
True to temperament, Linda and I jumped at the chance for some mother-daughter bonding amidst reptilians…

Why? Because we didn’t want to miss doing something so unique! What would you do?

If swimming with reptiles isn’t your secret desire, is there something else you are just itching to try? A wish, hidden inside, that whispers at you, asking for release?

A new skill you want to learn, a long abandoned childhood dream of travel or adventure, a relationship you want to start?

This Christmas I challenge you to be brave. Be brave in a big way. If you’ve been longing for a life change, make it happen.

Here are some bold ideas:

Try out for that local theatre group! Get yourself in gear and actually map out the itinerary for that long-desired trip. Re-establish contact with the person from whom you’ve been estranged. Begin a friendship with an aloof neighbor. Begin a ministry.

Believe in yourself again. Believe in all the potential God has placed inside of you. Believe in the possibilities. It’s not too late.

If you need help being brave, ask God to help you. And share your ideas with us. We would love the privilege of being your cheerleaders!

Finally Fruit!

What for me started as little seedlings have now become satisfying mouth fulls of juicy vitamin packed fruit. This plateful of papaya took a bit of work, and a lot of vigilance against pesky hungry squirrels and other critters.

Life is just like that. Okay, so this may be the most childlike application possible, but it is also the most relevant for us! If you want to reap delicious fruit, you have to work and be very vigilant against the pests that want to take the fruit from you. Every single day.

For me those thieves can be worry, procrastination, fear of what others think…
What about you? What is trying to distract you from your harvest and your dreams?

On Pursuing… a Reminder Re-Post

(I feel I should offer this as a reminder for all of us… Perhaps someone out there can use the encouragement!)
I just heard a message that had as one of its points the importance of perseverance. Pastor Troy used as an example that, sometimes, the thought of running for many miles can seem daunting. But, when you focus on finishing only the lap you happen to be on, suddenly you find you can accomplish far more than you thought.

Which made me think of many times in my life when I absolutely did not have any strength left… I remember when I was 19, working with an NGO and living on a ship – collapsing on the very small bathroom floor and crying from exhaustion, thinking I simply couldn’t go on… then having to get up and go on. Times in ballet class with my legs drained and trembling, ready to betray me – and somehow my brain forcing them just a little higher, just a little longer… Emotional challenges our family has had to face, where it seemed one day more – even one hour more – was too long to endure.

Philippians 3:6,10 & 14 have one particular Greek word in common: in vs. 6 it’s translated “persecute,” vs. 10 “follow after,” and vs. 14 “press” toward. The word in essence means “to pursue.” Paul says (my paraphrase), “forgetting what lies behind, I am reaching toward the future… I aggressively pursue… my greater vocation…”

Don’t stop pursuing your greater vocation… your higher calling. Sometimes that pursuit is painful – a young person I was talking to commented on the need for people to know how to make tough decisions despite the personal pain they may cause. She inspired me. Sometimes that pursuit is scary – as with little crippled Much Afraid, in Hind’s Feet on High Places, the family of Fearings will attack and try to make us turn back with whispers and lies. Like Much Afraid, we will find that the Shepherd gives us the strength we need if only we ask.

I once heard Luis Palau ask, “How do you eat an elephant?” His answer – “One bite at a time.” If you are tempted to give up, just make it this one hour longer, and then the next, and the next… You will find your hours turn into days, then weeks… and before you know it, you will not only have endured, you will have overcome! You will be stronger, and you will be able to turn and extend your arms, to help fellow pilgrims pursue their greater vocations.

The Dip

Have you embarked on an enterprise, poured your heart and soul into it, then run into stiff head winds?

Peter and I recently read a book called The Dip, by Seth Godin. This excellent little book has the subtitle, “A little book that teaches you when to quit (and when to stick).”

That is precisely what the book is about – how to discover if it is time to quit, or if the difficulties you are encountering are merely a temporary “dip.” If you can relate to any of this, I recommend the book. He makes his points memorably!

We read it prayerfully – and by that I mean we read it from the perspective that success not only involves our strongest efforts, but also God’s blessing. We figure that if He blesses us, it is so we can accomplish certain goals. (In our case that would be supporting orphanages and the fight against injustice).

We have been restructuring our business to survive in today’s economy. Lots of prayer, and endless hours of work… Thankfully, it looks like for us it has been a dip – and we are pushing through to the other side.

LeadHers & Chocolate Cake

This is a cool group of ladies I do ministry with… the LeadHership team. They are all super sharp and motivated, and they really spur me on… Heather (red and blue striped shirt) does a great job in leading and motivating the team. Tonight we joined other folk that work or volunteer at Flamingo and went to a “drop in” at our lead pastor’s house. Peter and I took the kids – it was great for them to see how normal Troy and Steph are… sweet times with sweet people.

From the Gramlings‘ house we went straight to our small group meeting, where we spent a couple of rich hours laughing and trading insults with our buddies. And eating more food! These are the same buds that dropped in on us yesterday and delivered a freshly baked chocolate cake!

We are really blessed. Thank You, God, for Your goodness.

Oreyo Sushi Ward Gets a Haircut

Have you learned any new skills, thanks to the economy? I have. A tight money situation presents all kinds of learning opportunities! For example:

  • I am now a formidable exterminator. We waged a war against bedbugs this past summer. I did my research, ordered the chemicals, donned the protective gear and did battle. Weekly spraying for those evil critters, constant washing of comforters and bedding, etc. It went on for weeks. It was discouraging at times, but thanks to encouragement from people like Stephanie, eventually we won!
  • I’m learning to cut my kids’ hair! Easy – just put a bowl on their heads and trim… Just kidding!! Seriously, bought the clippers and have done it a couple of times. Not perfect yet, but getting there.
  • We’re learning to groom our poodle… Tonight was our first time. It took forever because his hairdo is kinda like mine – curly and out of control! It was quite the fun family project. Fun for us, not for Oreyo Sushi Ward.

What new skills are you acquiring in order to creatively stretch your dollars? Any cool money saving tricks you’ve come up with, that you’d like to share?

The “after” – only slightly traumatized!

Not The Apprentice

What a blessed day I had yesterday! Staff Day.

It started at 12:01 am. We had a bootcamp in the parking lot, under the stars, until 3 a.m. Slept about 2 hours, then met my team back to prep and join the other teams for breakfast, with activities to follow non-stop until the evening.

The details and lessons learned will surely make it into future blog posts. Suffice it to say that it felt like a mini-Apprentice reality show – with a glaring difference: the teams were all “for” each other!

Don’t misunderstand. The competition was fierce. It was fun to see these pastors/leaders with that fire of rivalry in their eyes, determined to out-do the other teams, and tapping the creativity of team members to try to prevail. They do not like to lose! Victory was sweet for the winning team.

But the Big Picture, thanks to inspired leadership, is that, ultimately, we are all working together toward the same goal! We want all of us to succeed, collectively. Not one winner and several losers, like the Apprentice. All winners, all facing the next year of challenges together.

This world is a rough place. We only have Us. Let’s be “for” one another!

“Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.” M. Williamson