Times of Joy and Sadness Often Run Together 

One of the great mysteries of life is how Joy and Sadness often are going on in our lives …at the same time. Just this week, I was teaching 4 year old children in our Vacation Bible School while at the same time helping some families deal with the loss of a loved one. Happiness and difficulty are interwoven in fabric of our lives. How we respond to both is important. Let me share with you some things I’m learning about this…Take one day at a time, every day is a gift. Plan ahead but be flexible. Cherish the good things going on in your life instead of just thinking about what don’t have or can’t do right now. Check your expectations, they should be realistic but not pessimistic. Focus on what you need to do today but also take some time along the way…to smile, laugh and pray. Take time to say “Thank You” and be kind to others. Life is too short to be miserable, help make someone’s day by encouraging them in some way… Doing these things will help you to experience the joy of God’s grace and strength for you today.

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a Mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm ALL your fears, He will rejoice over you with Joyful songs.” – Zephaniah 3:17

I’m so Glad… to be Her Dad

One of the biggest joys of my life is being called “Courtney’s Dad”. As we have both “grown up” through the years, I’m still learning how to be a better dad. One to the important things to remember in being a parent is…that  it always a changing process (it doesn’t stop with diapers). You just get comfortable in a phase of life and then it’s on to a different phase in life for both parent and child. What is really good for me now, is that we are great friends. I seek her advice and input on different things, we talk and listen to each other often, and I respect her in so many ways.I think a big mistake dads often make is not being connected and supportive of their kids as they are growing up. They give them a lot of attention when they are a small preschooler but then not as much as they get older. There is a tendency to quit attending sports or school events in which they are participate or not taking time to spend talking with them (with eye contact and undivided attention) about their day and things that are important to them.

Like all dads, I haven’t always been perfect, like the time I was helping to light her fire baton when she was a majorette in high school and accidentally set the grass on the sideline on fire, which I quickly extinguish by stomping it out with my feet! I got a lot of laughs and applause from the fans in the stands and the local fire department asked me if I would be interested in being their “mascot”. I also enjoyed driving the sound truck for her majorette group in parades, especially the one when we were behind a enormous gorilla ballon and a country music line dance team who had large and loud sound system to be heard miles away which confused the majorettes and they ended up line dancing with the batons. I also recall telling her that eating  a chicken biscuit and mellow yellow were good for her just so she would eat breakfast on her way to school…she now prefers yogurt with granola and a low fat latte.

Kids need us to be a source of encouragement and I’m still the honorary president of her fan club. I’m thankful for the many happy memories as Courtney’s dad, and I’m looking forward to many more in the future.

We can all be thankful this Father’s day for our perfect Heavenly Father. God is our constant source for strength, security, guidance, and love. I like how Max Lucado describes God’s love for us…”If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.”

Memo from the Wonderful World of…Meme

Meme is my daughter’s pet. She has lived in several states, apartments and houses. She travels well. She has been a source of smiles and laughs for our family and friends. She even won the Prestigious Nichols Hills Pooch Parade Competition… dressed as a Banana Split! She sealed the victory when she stopped right in front of the Judges Table and turned to pose and gaze at the them. She makes an impression when people encounter her on a walk and she makes herself at home wherever she goes. On one occasion, Meme got down in the floor when Courtney and her friends were doing some stretching and exercising..they stretched, then she stretched and then she copied some of the other things they did.I have noticed that she is “always Meme”regardless of what the circumstances are around her. There is a lot to be said for that same attitude in us humans too. We often admire people who have the ability to stay the same, even during adversity. It is easy to allow our circumstances to overwhelm us and keep us from being our best. Making the best of where we are and yet at the same time not lose our sense of who we are; can be a difficult task at times, but it really is a key to keeping things in balance in our daily lives.

Here are some interesting quotes on this topic:

– “I knew who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then.” – Alice in Wonderland

– “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt

– “Whatever you are, be a good one.” – Abraham Lincoln

How are things going right now in your life? Are you making the best of where you are at.. or are you allowing your circumstances dictate how you feel about yourself? 

God can help us when we feel overwhelmed by difficult situations that we face in life. A popular Bible Verse of many people is Philippians 4:13, where the Apostle Paul wrote “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Paul wrote that while in a Roman prison, a very difficult situation. By looking to God for strength; we can trust in Him for guidance in spite of the circumstances surrounding us. It frees us up to be the best we can be as a person…and that’s something to bark (I mean shout) about!

The Importance  of Recharging Our Emotional Batteries 

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” – Sydney Harris“Your soul is like a battery that discharges each time you give life away, and it needs to be recharged regularly.” – Wayne Cordero
It is so important to recharge our emotional batteries. Research indicates that it often takes just as much time or longer to recover emotionally than it does physically, from stressful or traumatic events in our lives. I have over the years, try to identify good ways for me to recovery emotionally from stress that I encounter in my work in helping people in dealing with crisis situations. I really enjoy spending time with my family doing things together. I also like doing things like going to sporting events, hiking in the mountains or attending a concert. I think one reason is that it gives my mind some time to relax and think about something different. It is sort of a temporary mental break and stress reliever for me. It is a good time to spend with family and friends too and enjoy these experiences together. 
The truth is, we all need an occasional break from our routine. A time to relax and recharge. It doesn’t have to be an extended vacation, but a few hours or a day can be extremely helpful in keeping recharged in the marathon of Life.

There are a lot of good options to accomplish this in different ways, read an interesting book, take a walk, go to a good show, concert or movie, take up a new hobby, etc…The right approach is unique to each individual. Dr. Richard Swenson, has done a iot research in the study of balancing life demands, suggests this..” It is important to understand our emotional reserves. It is important to understand how much we have at the beginning of the each day and which influences drain our emotions dry or recharge our batteries. It is important to learn what our limits are and not make further withdrawals if we are already maximally depleted. And it is important to respect these limits in others. Make an intentional decision about how much overload is acceptable in your life. Some enjoy a high-stimulus life of continuous multitasking. Others prefer a more controlled, peaceful pace. Once you understand where on this spectrum you function best, attempt to stay within a range of tolerances. Exceeding these parameters will put your productivity and passion at risk, eventually resulting in exhaustion, disorganization and irritation.” 

Ask God to help you in this process. Remember that God created you and knows what is best for you and is there to restore and renew your strength..”The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry, and restoring your strength.” – Isaiah 58:11