Wednesday, December 31, 2008

If I Had a Hammer . . . What If You Already Do?

“The world is more malleable than you think, and it’s waiting for you to hammer it into shape.” -Bono

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Glorious Day and All It Entails

Each year in mid-October, there’s a completely clear day where the setting sun outside my ninth floor window lights up the trees just to the north of our building, making all the glory of their fall colors come alive. While I’ve tried to take pictures of it, the photos never do it justice.

This year, for whatever reason, the clear, glorious day didn’t arrive. Two things got in the way.

First, many trees in our immediate area were bulldozed to make way for a retail development. Watching this large stand of trees, which had been home to deer and other wildlife, destroyed over the course of a few days was incredibly disheartening. Driving to work the morning after the first day of bulldozing, I saw a deer standing amid a pile of torn down trees eating leaves in what used to be its habitat. It was enough to nearly push me over the edge.

Secondly, for whatever reason, the remaining trees didn’t achieve the same incredible color scheme this year as in the past. The leaves looked more brown than they did yellow, orange, or red.

So what happened instead?

On a mid-October day this year, there was intermittent rain. Far from being clear, the sky was grey, with ominous clouds rolling through the area all day long.

Then in late afternoon, a rainbow appeared, and the clouds, now very low in the sky, started to give way in various parts of town. As they did, different parts of the city began to light up, revealing beautiful colors in groups of trees throughout the Kansas City area.

In a unique way, the day of glorious color this year became much more intriguing, not knowing which trees would next receive their flash of illumination, only to randomly surrender it to other trees miles away. What has been a beautiful scene became an interactive display of color and light this year. It was the most glorious October day yet.

Think about it.

We are finishing a calendar year many view as having stripped away tremendously important things to them (i.e., money, wealth, status), leaving a dismal landscape, with dim and daunting uncertainty about the year ahead. Sounds a lot like the view from outside my window, doesn’t it?

What’s the lesson? The glorious day I was anticipating and looking forward to didn’t happen. Instead, challenges and hindrances spoiled what was expected, yet worked to create something even more glorious.

I’m as big an advocate of living a challenge-free life as anyone. But what I take away is the reminder that challenges, trials, and difficulties are all part of the impetus for creating great things we perhaps couldn’t imagine without them. For all of us, let’s pray that we can take the challenges 2008 presented and those that 2009 holds and make it a truly wondrous year unlike any we’ve experienced before.

Merry Christmas, and blessings for the New Year!


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Things to Do During the Holidays

  • Turn off economic news through the end of the year, and maybe into 2009. Things won’t change based on whether you’re completely informed on interest rates and bailouts.

  • Search for a long lost friend via the internet and contact them. Let them know you’ve missed them.

  • Find 5 minutes in your hectic day. Stop and pray in thanksgiving and for help.

  • If you can’t find 5 minutes to pray, do it while you’re doing something else.

  • Ask people, “What’s a good thing that’s happened to you today?” Genuinely listen to what they have to say.

  • Have dinner by candlelight with someone you love. It doesn’t have to be fancy; even fast food is better by candlelight.

  • Let yourself off the hook and simply don’t do something you’re agonizing about doing. You’ll survive.

  • Take some of the time you saved and do something nice and unexpected for someone else. They’ll love it.

  • Work to be more understanding than you typically would be.

  • Tell someone you’re sorry for what you’ve done.

  • Inspire someone with your words or actions. Or at least tell them everything will be okay.

  • Get home for the holidays.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

You've Got Advice in the Mail

The email below arrived in my work inbox over the night.

A quick search shows it out on the Internet in various places. Yet, sometimes it's not enough that it's "out there." Something may have to stare you in the face when you most need it. I asked for some help for today, and this arrived in my inbox from someone I don't know.

It was exactly what I needed.

Thank you Lord!


From: ----- --- []
Sent: Tue 12/4/2007 12:15 AM
To: Brown, Mike
Subject: RE: Be yourself..............Have a great day ahead

Be understanding to your perceived enemies.
Be loyal to your friends.
Be strong enough to face the world each day.
Be weak enough to know you cannot do everything alone.
Be generous to those who need your help.

Be frugal with that you need yourself.
Be wise enough to know that you do not know everything.
Be foolish enough to believe in miracles.
Be willing to share your joys.
Be willing to share the sorrows of others.

Be a leader when you see a path others have missed.
Be a follower when you are shrouded by the mists of uncertainty.
Be first to congratulate an opponent who succeeds.
Be last to criticize a colleague who fails.
Be sure where your next step will fall, so that you will not tumble.

Be sure of your final destination, in case you are going the wrong way.
Be loving to those who love you.
Be loving to those who do not love you; they may change.
Above all, Be yourself.
Just Be Yourself.

City Magazine
Roanoke VA