“There is nothing so stable as change.”Bob Dylan
Life has been rather busy the past several weeks.
Leanne and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary with a weekend trip to Ocean Grove, NJ. This provided an excellent opportunity to stop, to reflect on and celebrate our marriage, and to consider next steps for our lives together. In this busy season, this is exactly what we needed.
The following weekend, I made a trip to Catawissa, PA to “camp” with three of my buddies. This was our annual gathering that has been going on for nearly 30 years. The trip always provides an excellent opportunity to pause life, to reconnect and catch up on our lives, and to enjoy the great outdoors. We fished in the Susquehanna River and Roaring Creek. We played a few games of corn hole. We ate some great food. I even finished reading a book (Playing for Pizza by John Grisham). And we simply enjoyed sitting around.
When I arrived home from this trip, it was time to kick it into high gear for our move. We packed all our belongings into the moving trucks on Wednesday, July 22nd, and we officially closed our nearly fifteen year Centennial Street chapter. The next day, we officially started a new chapter on Snoopy Lane (still in Schwenksville, PA – actually in Lower Frederick, PA).
Our first week in the new house has been all we could ask for and more. We love our neighborhood. We have met so many genuinely nice people, and we have begun making new friendships. Leanne has enjoyed several walks with one of the women in the neighborhood. And we enjoyed our first Friday night neighborhood Happy Hour this week.
We have been busy unpacking and figuring out where everything goes. Yesterday, Isaac and I spend quite a bit of time painting the garage, hanging utility hooks, and organizing the garage. We still have a few things to do in order to finish up the garage project (hanging the bikes, getting a garage door opener, and painting/sealing the floor); otherwise, we are happy with the progress on this project. And I’m looking forward to the next projects.
I’m sure there is a lot in which I could share. I have had so many thoughts and reflections that have gone on through this experience. Perhaps, I will share more in the days to come. In the meantime, I wanted to share one of the experiences that left a mark on me.
A couple nights after we moved in to our Snoopy Lane home, Leanne and I were sitting outside our garage when a young neighborhood family stopped by to say hello. The oldest boy (I think he is 8 years old) asked Leanne and me if we knew Jesus. His exact words, “Do you know Jesus.” This led to a conversation that made it clear we did, and it is a conversation I have thought about over and over again since then.
I think his mother was a bit embarrassed by her son’s question when we were just getting to know her family. I think we set her mind at ease by our response. What makes it so easy for a child to have such “boldness” when we are all called to share our faith? People can debate about the best ways to share our faith with others which is a subject for another conversation.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.I Peter 3:15-16 (NIV)
This little boy challenged me and encouraged me. I want to confidently share my faith with boldness, with gentleness, and with respect.
I’m looking forward to the opportunities we will have in the coming days, weeks, months, and years to connect and grow in our community.
Yesterday, I officially joined VLAUGUST, a private Facebook vlogging community that encourages participants to post a vlog once or twice a week on a specific theme. This year’s theme is “How To Be Still.” I posted my first vlog this morning. In my post, I shared about my history of struggling with the notion of being still. As part of the post, I shared Psalm 46 – specifically Psalm 46:10 that reminds us the “Be still and know that I am God.” I’m excited to see how this challenge will stretch me.
God continues to stretch me for which I am grateful.
Hope you are doing well!
Every day I feel is a blessing from God. And I consider it a new beginning. Yeah, everything is beautiful.Prince
A new beginning.
A fresh start.
A clean slate.
Kind of scary.
Kind of exciting.
Kind of great.
Moving past yesterday.
Moving through today.
Moving into tomorrow.
It comes with joy.
It comes with uncertainty.
It comes with sorrow.
Every day is a new beginning.
Every day can be a blessing – a gift.
This is the day the Lord has made.
I will rejoice and be glad in it.
I am thankful for a new beginning – a fresh start – a promise of good things to come!
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”Mahatma Gandhi
Change happened. Change happens. Change will happen.
Change is hard. Change seems impossible. Change is possible.
Change causes anxiety. Change causes euphoria.
Change can be overwhelming. Change can be just what we need.
Change is often feared. Change is also welcomed.
Change may not be what we want, and yet change may be exactly what we need.
Change moves from the past into the future. Change can make a world of difference by making the world a little different.
Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Change can actually be very, very good.
We are all watching change happen. We are all changing. We are all on the brink of change. We are all in need of change.
We need change that matters. We need change that makes the world a better place not just for us but for everyone. We need change that shines hope on the hopeless. We need change that shines light on the darkness. We need change that brings freedom to those in chains. We need change that amplifies love and quiets hate.
Are you ready for change? (Am I?) Will you be the change our world needs? (Will I?) What changes to you need to make? (What changes to I need to make?) When will you break from your ruts and embrace change? (When will I?)
The time for change is now. While change may be uncomfortable, it is worth it!
Be the change our world needs!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
For those of you who struggle with change, I’d encourage you to lean on God’s love which does not change.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)
“Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.”Anthony J. D’Angelo
When I was 12, I flew all by myself to Minnesota to stay with my Grandma and Grandpa Miller in Minneapolis. While I was there we visited my Uncle Wes and Aunt Carol who lived in a more rural area north of Minneapolis.
While bailing hay with Uncle Wes and my Grandpa. I found a moose shed – the antler of a moose that had fallen off for the season. I took it from Uncle Wes’ farm back to Minneapolis and on the airplane back to Philadelphia. The moose antler has gone with me from Mt. Holly, NJ to our first house in Schwenksville, PA and then to our second house in Schwenskville, PA. I haven’t seen it for a while, but it did come to my mind a month or two ago when I received word that Uncle Wes had passed away. I rediscovered it yesterday as I was cleaning out my basement in preparation to move again in just over a month.
Honestly, I shed a few tears yesterday as I said goodbye to some things that remind me of my past. I said goodbye to my pennant collection that had faded away. These reminded me of my love for baseball along with some of the amazing places I visited as a kid like the real Field of Dreams in Iowa. I said goodbye to several old photographs that had collected wrinkles, creases, and dust in an old footlocker I got before my freshman year at Grove City College. One of the photos was of my housing group, AEX, as we posed for a Christmas photo in Harbison Chapel in December of 1993. These along with many other items were a reminder that I am extremely blessed…EXTREMELY blessed!
I’m so thankful for family, for friends, and for all the special memories made over the years.
As my wife and I pursue this path of downsizing, I’m reminded of how temporary our stuff is. We can’t take any of it with us when we are done with this life. We must remember to hold onto our stuff lightly and hold on to the memories and invest in relationships. These are the things that matter. These are the things we can take into eternity.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”Jesus – Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)
By the way, the moose shed is going to a good friend. I know he will give it a good home.
2020 has been perhaps the craziest year of my life. We’ve dealt with COVID-19. We saw one of the biggest dips in the stock market along with one of the biggest swings in the unemployment rates in history. We saw the rise in popularity of a crazy Netflix show called Tiger King. We are navigating the primary election season for what is sure to be a crazy fall election. And we are witnessing the deaths of several Black individuals and the protests along with some rioting and looting that followed the most recent killing of George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer.
These most recent events in particular have left me reeling. We do not watch a lot of news at our house as it hasn’t historically been healthy for our minds and hearts. And yet, I realize there is an importance to being informed.
I’ve done a lot of reflection this week, and I’ve also begun with more investigation and self-education. I’ve talked to people who have different opinions than me, different backgrounds than me, and different skin colors than me. I still have a long, long way to go. Knowing full well that I have family and friends with a wide variety of opinions and perspectives on what is going on in our country these days, I have three challenges for all of us in the coming week.
Our country and our world is divided. And I believe we stand at the precipice of great calamity or a great change. Hate is not the answer, and love takes work as it often takes us out of our comfort zone. Choose love.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteousness. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)
“So I say to you, Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.“Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:7)
To late, I just did.
Learning to ask questions is the key to opening the door to countless opportunities, experiences, and relationships. Kids typically do a great job asking questions. If you have ever been with a young child, you’ve heard this question over and over again: “Why?”
Kids are curious. They want to learn. They want to grow. They want to try new things. And they seem to know that asking questions is the key to getting what they want. Kids also don’t let the fear of sounding stupid stop them from asking questions.
Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, most of us forget the power of asking questions. We lose our curiosity. We don’t want to appear like we don’t know all the answers. And we’re afraid we might be told “No” when we ask for something.
I’ve learned something recently:
This is why we must learn the discipline of asking questions.
In the writing and speaking world, there are many opportunities available to those who ask.
If I want to speak, I have to ask. If I want to write on someone’s blog or platform, I have to ask. If I want to be on someone’s podcast, I have to ask. Sure I may get an invitation from time to time without asking, but this is not the norm.
You may not be a writer or a speaker, but you still have a lot to gain by asking questions. When you practice the discipline of asking questions, many things happen.
“Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much.”Francis Bacon
I have used a set of questions that have helped me grow personally and professionally. If you begin using these questions, you will grow as well. These questions require an open mind and a willingness to take action.
One thing worth noting, once you’ve asked your question(s) make sure you stop to listen. The real learning happens when we listen to what others have to say in response to our questions. And if you’re asking yourself the question(s), make sure you take time to reflect and process your responses to your own questions.
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.”Marcus Aurelius
I had a bit of a mishap this morning.
After my 6AM call with my men’s group and before my 7:30AM call with my Rotary club, I thought I had enough time to trim my beard, take a shower, and get dressed for the day.
I was right on all three accounts; however, things didn’t quite go as I expected.
I took the hair trimmers out of the linen closet in our bathroom. I removed the cover from the trimmers, and I proceeded to begin “trimming” my beard. To my surprise or perhaps horror, I realized I had failed to put the appropriate guard on the trimmers before I started my “manscaping.”
I called into the other room to alert my wife to my predicament.
I couldn’t just leave it as it was, and I couldn’t put the guard on now as the beard hair length had already been determined. What should I do?
I left the guard off of the trimmers, and I essentially shaved off my beard leaving a layer of stubble across my face. I’ve had the beard for a couple of years, so my face looks a bit different now. Perhaps, I even look a little younger without the beard.
My morning mishap with the beard trimmers left me with a lot to ponder.
In general, I am a fairly guarded person. I’m not great at spontaneity, and I typically think before I speak. Most people would label me conservative or at least rather serious. Sometimes I’m envious of people who let their guards down with more ease than I do. They can get their feelings out there for others to hear.
On the other hand, the Bible talks about the importance of guarding our hearts.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.“Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
Guard rails are there to protect us. They protect us from going of the right path, the right road, the right trail. They keep us out of danger.
When the author of Proverbs talks about guarding our hearts, he is telling us to protect our hearts above all else – to make sure we are keeping the bad out and allowing the good inside. He reminds us that what comes out of our heart is a direct result of what we permit into our hearts.
Paul seems to echo the writer of Proverbs:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
We must guard what goes into our hearts and minds.
I recently came across an excellent resource initially spoken by Earl Nightingale and now available as a short book. In The Strangest Secret, Nightingale says “We become what we think about.” It’s a call to be intentional in our goal setting, but it’s also a reminder to make sure we are thinking about good things.
As a result of Nightingale’s challenge, I began writing a goal on a new index card every day, and on the back of the card I write out Matthew 7:7-8:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)
What guard rails have you but in your life? How are you dealing with the thoughts and ideas that come into your heart and mind?
These thoughts are the result of my morning mishap.
My beard will come back. I’ll be more diligent in making sure I am using the right guard for the trimmers. And I’ll be more intentional in guarding my heart and mind.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so man caring people in this world.”Fred Rogers
The news can seem pretty scary right now.
I’ve tried to stay away as much as possible. So much of today’s news media is about blaming this side or that side for the COVID-19 crisis. Or the news is filled with emphasis on the rapid spread of the novel corona virus and the rising death toll left in its wake. I read or hear stories of people reacting out of fear – hording toilet paper, hording hand sanitizer, and yelling at people who appear to be too close to them physically.
Many media outlets are using the crisis as an opportunity to either support their political perspective or tear down the political position of the opposing side. This path will only create more disunity and higher walls in our country and in our communities. In addition, they are spreading a message of fear.
Crisis can either destroy us or can unify us.
So here is my question to you (and to me)….
Are you helping others? Are you reaching out? Are you spreading hope?
Or are you acting only for you and your benefit? Are you hording? Are you spreading messages of fear and despair?
I believe it’s important to be informed and to take responsible actions to prevent the spread of this virus. But I also believe it’s important to look for the helpers – and to become one of the helpers wherever possible.
I saw a team of co-workers creatively gathering PPE (Personal Protection Equipement) for distribution to our field workers who are faced with serving our customers who are providing life-sustaining services to others at hospitals, healthcare facilities, and pharmaceutical research and manufacturing sites.
I saw a group of Rotarians gathering grocery store gift cards to distribute to families in need due to furlough or loss of job caused by COVID-19.
I saw friends in the healthcare arena sacrificially putting themselves at risk by serving in hospitals, urgent care facilities, and portable COVID-19 testing facilities.
I saw teachers working together to connect with their students and to creatively continue education despite the current requirements to remain physically separated.
I saw pastors doing their best to connect with their congregations in an effort to bring messages of hope.
I saw people in my community doing their part to support local businesses who have clearly been impacted by the isolation required by the government orders to “stay at home.”
I saw family members and friends creatively using their talents to entertain and encourage others through YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Zoom, and other on-line platforms.
These are stories that might not make it to CNN or FoxNews. But these are the stories we need to hear especially in the midst of crisis.
I had intentions of writing a post with this title a few weeks ago (before the whole Coronavirus COVID-19 thing happened), and it seems like a great time to revisit it.
Back in January, Leanne (that’s my beautiful bride) and I decided to move forward with listing our house. Our kids are both in college, and we simply don’t need all the property and all the house that we currently have. We put our house on the market with the intention of moving closer to being completely debt free so we can live more, save more, and ultimately give more.
In the process, we also began our search for our next home. We set a dollar limit along with a search criteria related to the type of house and neighborhood we were pursuing.
And thus we entered the wonderful, crazy process of selling and buying a house.
Proverbs 3:5-6 has always been a central verse for Leanne and me.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”Proverbs 3:5-6
This is the verse that provided us hope and encouragement as we guided the early years of our relationship and considered marriage.
This is the verse that we leaned on heavily when we navigated some significant challenges several years ago.
And this is the verse that we come back to now as we consider the prospect of moving.
Trusting God implies God will do everything for us. He will direct our paths. Some versions say He will make our paths straight when we trust in Him.
I’m not saying this is wrong, but I think we must be careful not to take this as a call to sit on our hands doing nothing. While we may need to wait to see how God reveals Himself in the midst of our situation, He still gave us brains, hands, and feet. Our brains help us think and process our next steps. Our hands and feet help us take those next steps.
Getting back to our house, we officially put our house on the market in early February. Our realtor stepped into action with a few open houses, and we began to see prospective buyers come through our house. At the same time, we found the house in which we would like to move. After a few weeks without offers, we made the decision to drop the price of our current house. We also made the decision to put a refundable down payment on the house for which we would like to purchase. In other words, we took action.
We are still trusting God will work in our situation. We pray daily that God would bring the right buyer for the right price at the right time. We are giving that part to God. Meanwhile, we are trying to be wise – seeking godly advice and taking appropriate action.
As we encounter this strange time in history as it relates to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), I think this verse and these thoughts apply. God is in control. But we must also use our brains and our bodies to think and act appropriately. Washing our hands and temporarily distancing ourselves socially are not bad ideas. I’d also suggest we pray for our leaders, for those in healthcare, and for those who are sick. My pastor also encouraged us to reach out to our neighbors (particularly are aging neighbors) to make sure they were okay. These are all actions we can take.
It’s easy to become anxious when we face challenges in life whether they relate to personal uncertainty or global pandemics. Paul reminds us to keep our anxiety in check.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:6-7
As we navigate these times, trust and pray like God is in control and take action (spiritually and physically) like your actions matter.
One more thought, there are a lot of people who are scared and in need of hope right now. If you are a Christ follower, I believe this is a time when Jesus’ love and hope can shine brightly. Let’s be the voice of reason – the voice of calm – the voice that points people to the God who alone can be trusted in all circumstances.
” Joy is the serious business of Heaven.”C.S. Lewis
Joy – n. – A feeling of great pleasure and happiness. (According to Google)
What is missing from your life?
You appear to be walking around with the weight of the world on your shoulders. You seem down, depressed, and perhaps overwhelmed.
Does it feel like the world is pushing in on you from every direction?
Everyone wants a piece of you. You can’t seem to get ahead, and more and more is lumped onto your plate giving you little room to breathe – little room to be you.
Maybe things just aren’t going your way. Your job is challenging at an unbearable level. Your bills are mounting, and you are facing a personal health crisis. Those you once called friends have abandoned you.
The stress you feel is palpable. There’s a lack of hope and a lack of joy.
It’s time to stop!
It’s time to find joy again!
Joy is possible in the midst of struggle. Joy is available to you and to me.
“Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.”I Chronicles 16:27 (NIV)
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)
When your world seems devoid of joy, it’s important to remember the above truths. It is also important to remember the things that bring you joy.
God has gifted you with a variety of gifts, interests, and passions. And God has given you a purpose. Joy is found when we are using our gifts in areas that fill our hearts, align with our areas of interest, and fulfill our purpose.
What brings you joy?
Yesterday, I had the blessing of spending time with friends sawing wood. It sounds simple, but I could tell that the experience brought joy to my friends (and to me).
When life has lost it’s spark, it’s time to find joy.
Finally, if you are still struggling to find joy, serve others in need. Helping others is often the catalyst we need to find the joy that seems absent from our lives.
“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.”Eleanor Roosevelt