Things Aren’t Going Back to Normal

If you’re waiting for things to go back to normal – stop waiting!

The most successful clients I work with are re-engineering their businesses based on the assumption that we are not returning to the old version of normal.  And if you look around – so many things are changing faster than we ever could have predicted.  We could assume that some of these things would have changed eventually, but COVID-19 has forced many changes to occur at warp speed, i.e. the Zoom conference explosion, the precipitous drop in business travel, the empty commercial office buildings, and, pleasantly, the reduced rush-hour highway traffic jams.   

If you’re expecting people to stop wearing masks soon – many likely won’t.

If you’re expecting 100,000 fans to pack a stadium for a college football game any time before 2022 – don’t hold your breath!

If you’re expecting the small restaurants in your community to re-open soon – sadly, many won’t.  I’ve read recently that as many as 50% of these establishments have either already closed or will close permanently in the relatively near future. 

These realties pose two questions that are worth pondering:

How should I handle the uncertainty of not knowing when things will really be “normal”?

And, what can I do personally to make things better?

On the first question above – I’m challenging myself (and welcome to my world) to make the assumption that we’re not going back to normal at all.  If we make the assumption that things stay as they are for the foreseeable future, what would we do differently?  Would we change our business model?  Would we change our financial approach to savings, investments, and even retirement planning?  Should we re-think where we live?  And what cars we drive (a lot fewer miles-driven BTW)? 

In essence, this is a perfect time to re-think our base assumptions and life-decisions because the world around us may look entirely different than it has previously.  And perhaps the one thing that has prevented you from thinking more seriously about these bigger life choices is the mistaken belief that everything will return to “normal” (whatever that is).

On the second question above – because our culture and our world is in such turmoil – from pandemics, to politics, to record high unemployment – maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and just stop it!  “Stop what?” you ask? Stop being so firmly entrenched in our personal points-of-view and strongly-held biases.  Let’s err on the side of empathy, kindness and respect.  Just because someone has a different world view and/or political view, doesn’t mean you can’t love them – exactly as they are.  You don’t have to love their world-view – but we all know people we love deeply who don’t share our politics, our preferences, or our faith.  Choose to love them regardless!

My challenge to you is twofold: if you assume things aren’t going back to normal – what would you change?  In your business?  In your career? In your family-life?  In your time allocation for that matter?

And, choose to care about others.  Choose to listen.  Choose to love – these are choices we all get to make…even if we don’t agree with them on every issue.

I always welcome your comments.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Do You Compete With…or Encourage Your Spouse?

One surprising thing I’ve learned from walking with married men for the past decade (www.menyourmarriagematters.com ) is that a remarkable number of men feel a sense of competition between them and their spouse.  Think about that for a minute.  You’d logically assume that the average marriage relationship is far more characterized by encouragement and ‘cheerleading’, not competition.   I even saw a recent tweet of a C.S. Lewis quote that reinforces the notion, “There is, hidden or flaunted, a sword between the sexes till an entire marriage reconciles them.”

Which begs a few questions: What is it in our innate nature that creates this phenomenon?  Is it our pride?  Is it our desire to be right all the time?  Is there a built-in, competitive nature that is exaggerated in marriage, more so than almost any other relationship?  Maybe it’s related to the sibling-rivalry that many of us grew up experiencing?  Regardless of the source, it’s common enough for me to conclude that it’s real.

Here are some tangible examples you may recognize:

  • Battling over who is right in a discussion – do you feel an almost-child-like desire/need to be right when you disagree about something with your spouse?
  • Sometimes it manifests itself in sports and games – do you hate to lose in general? And perhaps hate it even more to lose to your spouse?
  • What about deciding who’s at fault for a problem that occurs? Is most of the focus on the solution to the problem or determining who created the problem in the first place?
  • Or, who gets credit for a good decision that we made? Is it important for others to know that you were integral to that good decision?  Or not responsible for the bad ones?

One of the principles I emphasize in the Marriage Matters workshops is focused on our journey to sanctification – in essence, becoming more and more Christ-like.  And there’s obviously a strong correlation between our Christ-likeness and our ability to shift from an unhealthy sense of competition with our spouse to one characterized by a genuine sense of ‘oneness.’  Where it doesn’t matter who’s right, or who wins, or even who’s at fault.

You may be asking a different question – like, why does this even matter?

Mostly because marriage is the one, most strategic relationship where we’re called, as husbands and wives, to work together in a spirit of cooperation, support, and encouragement – not one focused on winning or taking the credit.  In the New Testament, Paul said it this way in Philippians 2:3,  “…but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”   Andy Stanley, the Lead Pastor at Northpoint Community Church, contends that marriage, above all other relationships should be a ‘submission competition’ between spouses.  Thought provoking…isn’t it?

What if you shifted your mindset, effective immediately, to embracing the notion that you are called to be the encourager – who is most interested in the success and well-being of your spouse and far less concerned about who’s right?  Or who wins for that matter!

Do you know how much more harmony would exist in a marriage if both spouses embraced this mentality?  What about you?  I always appreciate your comments!

Posted in Faith, Family and marriage, Inspirational, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

We’re Not Listening to Each Other!

Have you noticed how much you tend to enjoy conversations with people who are great listeners and who ask great questions?  Or, from the opposite perspective – how tiresome can it be to have a conversation with someone, even a person close to you, who seems to do most of the talking, much of the discussion is about them and often with agonizing details that matter little in the scheme of things?

Devonie and I have some married friends that we love dearly and with whom we spend lots of time with and part of the reason is that the conversations we have are comfortable, spontaneous, back-and-forth, honest, and even incredibly vulnerable at times.  We leave the evenings we spend with these couples energized and wanting to spend more time with them.

Which makes me ponder – what makes the biggest difference in these common conversations?  So, as I’m prone to do, I asked Google to help me identify some good resources from experts who’ve studied this phenomenon and I found Celeste Headlee’s “Ted Talk” which has nearly 10M views since she presented just 3+ years ago.  Headlee is a professional interviewer for National Public Radio (NPR) and the title of her talk is Coherent, confident conversations.

I’ve never heard anyone outline the key elements this well – much less in 11 minutes!  For your own benefit and the benefit of those you have conversations with – please take 11 minutes this week to watch:  Celeste Headlee Ted Talk

For those of you who’ll opt for the short cut – I’ve provided below a synopsis of her “10 ways to have a better conversation.”  Here’s my best attempt to capture the key points:

  • Don’t multi-task in a conversation – be present and in that moment – not in a previous discussion and not thinking about what you’re going to be doing for the balance of your day.
  • Don’t pontificate! In her words, if you have an opinion – write a blog!  In conversations, assume instead you have something to learn and listen!
  • Use open-ended questions – who, what, where, when, and why? It’s the difference between asking, “Were you terrified?” (which deserves a one-word answer) and asking, “How did you feel?” You’ll draw the other person out far better with the latter!
  • Go with the flow in the conversation – when thoughts come in your brain…let them go out of your brain. Instead of fixating on what you’ll share next, go with the flow and enjoy listening.  For too many of us, there is talking, and waiting to talk – which is not conducive to great conversations
  • If you don’t know, say you don’t know. You don’t have to be an expert on every topic.  Err on the side of caution in this regard.
  • Don’t equate your experience with theirs – if they lost a family member – there’s no need to mention that you lost someone last year. In Headlee’s words, “It’s not about you.”
  • Try not to repeat yourself – and don’t use ‘re-phrasing’ as the surrogate strategy.
  • Stay out of the weeds – people don’t care about the dates, times, etc. – leave 80% of the details out of your story and you’ll enjoy a far better conversation.
  • Listen! If your mouth is open, you’re not listening. Listen to understand.
  • Be brief. As Headlee tells it, “A good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject.”

Do these resonate with you?  Are you guilty of some of these bad habits?  I always welcome your perspective and hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch Celeste and enjoy better conversations!

 

Posted in Business-related, Inspirational, Pop culture | 2 Comments

Take 2% of Your Time to Care…About Someone Else

Everyone knows we’re called to love others and it’s pretty easy to buy into the notion that this is a good and fitting goal.  It’s biblical; it’s moral; it’s even socially admirable.

But…(you knew that was coming) how many times in a given day or week do we genuinely do something that makes someone get the real sense that they’ve been loved in a notable way?

If you’re at all like me – when I ponder this question, I’m quickly tempted to make at least two excuses for myself:

  • I can rationalize that because I work hard and have to make a living that I don’t have time and I’m actually loving my wife and my family by helping to provide for all of us. And there’s certainly an element of truth to this but if I’m perfectly honest, it’s more a habit and a duty than it is a true act of love most days
  • The other mental trap (i.e. excuse) is when I rationalize that I’ve not really been presented with an opportunity that day to love someone extraordinarily.

I suspect that I’m not alone in these excuses?

Let’s take this same issue from your perspective – when, in the last few days, has someone you’ve come in contact with shown an act of kindness/love that was striking to you?  I’ll bet most of us can’t think of too many examples in the last month.  (I’d love to be wrong on this bet!)

So here’s the challenge to each of us – don’t fall victim to these excuses and instead find an opportunity today, and tomorrow (and every day for that matter) to literally go out of your way to show someone you intersect with that they are loved…even if you don’t know them.

Bob Goff is a great role model for this concept in his two books – Love Does and Everybody Always .  He lives by this philosophy and he shares dozens of stories in his books about uncommon, unpredictable and often extraordinary ways that he has found to show others the love of God through acts of kindness.

Embracing this notion doesn’t take planning, or even a lot of thought.  Just a heart to love and treat others nicely and an eye that is attuned to looking for small, simple opportunities to do so.  Some would argue that we should be proactively sharing our faith in Jesus more…I would contend that showing someone unconditional and unexpected love might be the most powerful testimony of all!

Here’s a simple, yet powerful example: I’m involved in a job search ministry and it blows me away how complete strangers go out of their way to help others.  The premise of C3G (www.c3g.org ) is that people who are unemployed (or even under-employed) find job search a difficult, trying and often demoralizing process.  And a job seeker’s orientation is naturally to focus tirelessly on finding their next job.  We flip that on its head – and encourage the C3G members to work together, on behalf of each other because we’re better together than any of us is alone – in job search and in life for that matter.

Here’s a recent, specific example when one of our volunteers (Ash) asked a question of the rest of the group that exemplifies the spirit of C3G –

Ash (one of our volunteers): Hi all, I am helping a close friend who is a stay at home Mom who is looking to get back into the workforce after a 12-year hiatus. Has anyone seen or have their own resume that they’ve developed to explain the gap in employment? Any compelling resume formats would be appreciated as examples. Thanks all!

Now, here’s an excerpt from Carol (one of our thousands of alums and members) and her gracious, loving response:

Carol: First, there are multiple organizations that help stay-at-home women re-launch  https://www.workingmother.com/on-ramping-programs-for-working-moms . I found this link quickly – it’s from 2016 and there are probably updates.  I’m very familiar with irelaunch.com and reachire.com which have many resources for helping moms/dads to relaunch.  Many of these programs are in finance and technology and more focused on the northeast although these programs are moving to other cities as well. I actually applied for a position for one of these programs (The Mom Project, that was launching in Atlanta.  I wasn’t selected and I haven’t seen any launch in Atlanta.  Even if a specific program is not in Atlanta or their area of expertise, there are still great resources that are helpful in a relaunch.

Carol’s response above is only one of the 7 paragraphs that went into more ideas, more suggestions, and candidly, more loving guidance and then she finished the note with the following…

I’m happy to talk with your friend if you or she thinks it would be beneficial.  My contact information is below.

So what’s my point?  Carol likely spent no more than 2% of her “awake” hours that day (20 minutes of any given day) to craft her response to that job-seeker in need.  She didn’t have to do that.  And if she hadn’t done it, no one would have noticed!  But, she did it anyway…

So, what’s the challenge/opportunity for us?  I suppose there are a few “headlines”:

  • We get more opportunities to love someone in an extraordinary way than we think – we just don’t often seize these opportunities
  • It doesn’t take much to change someone’s life – evidence – the 20 minutes (i.e. the 2%) Carol spent helping this other Mom in her job search was likely a game changer for her search
  • And I’d contend the ‘giver’ may be the biggest beneficiary of all – because of the deep sense of satisfaction that comes with serving someone else

What about you?  Maybe we could all find more situations and people we come into contact with and allow more sacred ‘interruptions’ to occur that are evidence that love (and Jesus) are real…

I always welcome your comments

Posted in Faith, Inspirational | 1 Comment

Redefining Success…What Do You Really Want?

My last blog post captured a lot of hearts and also prompted a lot of comments that motivated today’s topic.  The notion of “success” is near and dear to my heart because for the first 2 decades of my adult life I was overly fixated on achieving my own definition of success – getting ahead, saving for retirement, having more “stuff.”  I think you get the picture and some of you may suffer from the same struggle.  These aspirations became my idols and were all consuming, which likely explains the excessive time I spent working and travelling that my family had to endure for that season of life.

The problem, which is eloquently explained in an article I tripped across last week, is that we tend to mis-define the concept of “success”.  Try this thought exercise for a minute (before you read any further!): what is your personal definition of success?

Here’s how blogger Brad Stulberg describes the journey most of us wrestle with: (Article: Redefining Success )

Everyone wants to be successful. But few people take the time and energy to define the success they want. As a result, they spend most, if not all, of their lives chasing what society superimposes on them as success. Examples include a bigger house; a faster car; a more prestigious position; greater relevance on the internet. Yet, even if someone finally attains these so-called successes, they are often left wanting.

Sound familiar?  Our culture fosters this mentality.  Social media plays a role.  Heck, our natural and innate tendency to compare ourselves to others may be the biggest contributor of all.

Which begs the question, “What’s the right way to look at success?”

Once again, Stulberg has a view that is grounding and helpful:

According to decades of psychological research, a successful life is one in which your basic needs for food, shelter, health care, and income are met and in which you have a sense of autonomy, mastery, and belonging.

What about you?  Have you even paused long enough to wrestle with your own definition of success?  What does it include?

If you haven’t done so, it becomes infinitely harder for us to be discerning about decisions related to our careers, families, and even financial decisions.  I witnessed, first-hand, a great example this past week.  I was coaching an accomplished client of mine and he explained that his key aspiration is to move to the next-higher level of management in his organization.  Which sounded perfectly reasonable and logical…

So, I asked the Simon Sinek question, “Why?” “Why do you want to move up in the organization?”  And then came an awkward pause on the other end of the phone…because he hadn’t really stopped to consider the “why” of his aspiration.

I hope you’ll allow me to offer a couple of brief suggestions: 1) Read Stulberg’s short blog post (the link is above), and 2) spend a few minutes this week contemplating what constitutes success for you.  It can re-orient your perspective – and may entirely change your desires and aspirations!

I always welcome your comments and reflections…

Posted in Business-related, Careers, Inspirational | 3 Comments

Do You Live For Something Bigger Than You?

What do you live for?

If that strikes you as a strange question…mission accomplished!  We all ought to contemplate the question periodically.  Do you live to have fun?  Do you live for your work?  Do you work so that you can really live beyond work?  Do you live for your kids? Or your family?  Is there a cause you care most about – charitable or otherwise?

The reason to ponder the question… your happiness likely depends on it.

Arthur Brooks, former CEO of AEI (American Enterprise Institute), is a self-professed expert on happiness and he often discusses the notion that a person’s happiness is very much related to their core values.  Brooks recently wrote, “It turns out that choosing to pursue four basic values of faith, family, community and work is the surest path to happiness, given that a certain percentage of our happiness is genetic and not under our control in any way.”

Notice what didn’t make that list?  It’s not our bank account.  It’s not our success.  It’s not our height, or our weight, or even our appearance.  It’s not even the car that we drive!

What I take from Brooks’ list is that relationships are the common-theme of these ‘values.’  In fact, the research and writing I did 15+ years ago on our calling and the importance of work and faith in our lives is that the nature of our work is important but the relationships at work (including your peers, your employees and especially your boss) make the biggest difference in workers’ satisfaction.

So, why is living for relationships and something bigger than ourselves so important in our life here on planet earth?

  • Because we’re made for relationship – and that’s been obvious since the dawn of humans. We’re not designed to fly solo.  Ecclesiastes 4 9-10 says it well, Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.  If one falls down, his friend can help him up.  But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.
  • Because we’re primarily called by God to love and serve others – In Jesus’ words: Love one another, even as I have loved you (John 15:12) “What”… you ask? I’m supposed to love those around me as much or more as I care about myself?
  • Because our sustainable satisfaction (vs. our temporary moments of pleasure) often derives from the sense of contribution we feel and the joy that we witness in those we serve and help.
  • And…because it also takes the focus and obsession off of ourselves, which may be the most important reason of all.

If you conclude that your orientation and energy is mostly centered on your well-being – what can you do to experiment with a new orientation?  Two important strategies strike me as great next steps:

  • Identify a cause, or an organization, or even a group of people that you think you’d enjoy investing your time and energy to help. Then…jump in and try it.  Maybe it’s an experiment initially.  Perhaps for one gathering or event?  In essence, try something out to determine if it floats your boat before you commit to that cause or group for the long term.
  • Maybe it’s about creating (or renewing) your relationships at your church…or even at a new church if you haven’t been plugged into one yet? Or getting involved with a small group of people (or couples) that are in a similar stage of life.  In essence – it may be about finding other people in whom you can invest your time and care.

One last time, what (or whom) do you live for?  Try living for something bigger than yourself…you’ll be happier for it!  I always look forward to your comments/contributions!

Posted in Faith, Family and marriage, Inspirational, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Don’t Walk…RUN from Toxic People (and Things)

Are there people in your life that consistently drag you down?  Are there things you spend time on that sour your attitude and compromise your outlook?  Are there news programs or social media apps that raise your anxiety and your “worry-meter”?

I have a crazy idea that I’d suggest you seriously consider: Just say “no!”  Say “no” to spending time with those people.  Say “no” to those activities.  And, just say “no” to those apps!  Seriously…

We do this to ourselves.  Constant exposure to these toxic things leaves us with toxic thoughts and relentless angst.  We know it brings us no joy in our life but we can’t seem to look away.  I suppose it’s akin to driving past a serious car accident on the highway and all of the cars are travelling at 1/3 of the speed they should be travelling – entirely because most drivers can’t resist rubber-necking to see what type of mayhem they can witness on the shoulder of the road.

The same holds true for most other aspects of our lives.  I know there are some people that we can’t simply choose to avoid entirely but I’d venture to say that we do have a choice with a large percentage of the toxic relationships in our lives.

The evidence of how prevalent this issue is today – one of my favorite authors, Gary Thomas (author of Sacred Marriage as one notable example) recently published a book called, When to Walk Away – finding freedom from toxic people. When to Walk Away – Amazon

Thomas was recently interviewed by Jim Daly on Focus on the Family’s radio program and explained that the essence of his point is that for any of us to be effective in our lives and in our ministries, we have to be reasonably healthy.  The parallel can be drawn from food.  If we’re consistently exposed to unhealthy food, our bodies will be negatively impacted by those toxic foods.  We might gain too much weight as one simple example.

In the same way, if we are over-exposed to negative, unhealthy people who consistently tear you down or drain your energy, Thomas argues that you’d be wise to “walk away” from those people for your own well-being and health.  I suspect many of you reading this post are already thinking of 2 or 3 people in your orbit that fit the description of toxic people.  Am I right?

Here’s Part 1 of Thomas’ interview with Jim Daly of Focus on the Family that will give you the essence of his premise: Focus on the Family Interview

I think the notion of toxicity is equally applicable to our exposure to news, social media, etc.  Would you agree that sometimes in the middle of watching the morning or evening news or in the middle of watching the nasty back-and-forth dialogue on Twitter or Facebook that you can feel a seemingly heavy weight on your chest?  Why do we choose to expose ourselves to this poison when we have an absolute choice in the matter?

So, here’s my suggestion – which is simple for me to outline but likely far-more-difficult for you to implement – in three basic steps:

  1. Take an inventory of the toxic sources in your life – people, news sources, social media as three notable examples! What do you gain from each…if anything? More importantly – what would you lose if you stopped spending time on each of them?  I’m guessing the honest answer is not much!
  2. Determine which of these are truly optional and therefore represent an opportunity to do something different. How much more time would you have? How much more peace would you experience?  The premise – why follow people on social media who are toxic – even if you agree with their world view?  And, why spend time with toxic people if it’s not healthy?!
  3. Make it happen – just do it! Seriously – go on a diet!  No, not a food-related diet but a diet from the toxic people and toxic news/information sources.

I promise, if you take this seriously, you’ll thank me in a matter of weeks if you’ll embrace this advice – and share it with others that you love who need these principles even more than you do.  We’d all be in a much better place if we did!

I welcome your thoughts!

Posted in Business-related, Inspirational, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Healthy, Faith-Centered Mindsets…in an Unhealthy Culture

I’ve written previously about the importance and the power of our dominant mindsets.  They’re so powerful because they dictate most of what we do, what we think, and even who we are.  Some of these mindsets (arguably, many of them) are sourced from our family and social surroundings.

We all have them – often subconscious mindsets or narratives.  The narcissist’s mindset is pretty obvious, “I’m not only the center of my universe, I’m also the center of THE universe.”  Someone with little self-confidence has a very different mindset, “I don’t really feel capable of accomplishing much so I’ll be content with my current lot in life.”

I’m sure you get the picture – they’re often innate mindsets.  Have you ever taken the time to consider what yours sound like?  Are they positive in nature, or self-defeating?   Here are a few additional, contrasting samples:

  • “I’m entitled to better than I have currently”
  • “I don’t deserve even what I have”
  • “I’ve got to take personal responsibility for my life – and my success is entirely up to me”
  • “Life is hard and we’ve all got to fight for what we deserve”
  • “Those that work the hardest, win!”
  • “I’ve got to continually prove my value to other people – at work and in life”
  • “I’m just grateful for the blessings that God has provided”

An prominent example in today’s culture – there seems to be a growing bias/mindset that the United States is a dishonorable country with a dishonorable past.  And while we have a flawed history of slavery and inequality (for two notable examples) it’s an unfair extrapolation to insist that we are an evil country.  In fact, the U.S. has a positive track record on so many fronts that our historical reputation can be compared favorably to every other country in the world.

And therein lies the contrast in mindsets – one person can embrace a view that we live in a great country and another insists that we live in a downright evil country.  And these mindsets will impact our attitude, our energy and even our relationships.

The reason this topic is so important is that the strife and tensions in this country today can profoundly (and most-often negatively) impact our psyche and even our physical health.  What about you… are you more stressed out than normal?

“Can we choose these mindsets or are they a given?” you may ask.  More importantly, if we have a choice about our mindsets, what’s the alternative?

For the follower of Jesus, we’re challenged to rise above the fray of everyday tensions and events by trusting that our good and loving God, the creator of all things, is bigger than today’s cultural and moral morass.  That’s what I mean by embracing a different mindset.  If you don’t, you get fully consumed and mostly depressed by our depravity.  If you do, it’s not an escape, as some would contend.  It’s a faith-fueled approach to thriving in a broken world that we occupy.  It’s also the only way I know of that allows us to keep a deep, intimate connection with God.

So… I’m increasingly worried about my grandchildren who are growing up in this toxic, divided environment.  I’ve given lots of thought, and prayer, to the faith-centric mindsets that I aspire to embrace to still live in the world (we can’t escape that obviously) and yet experience a paradoxically-deep sense of peace and a joy, in spite of these worldly tensions.

Most of my grandchildren are a bit young to fully grasp these principles that I’m intent on embracing  but I thought you might benefit from considering the degree to which they align with your current mindset.  In the table below I’ve tried to support them with some key passages from the Bible for those readers who are Jesus followers.

Mindsets070120

What about you?  What are the core mindsets you most aspire to live out?  Have you chosen your narratives or inherited them involuntarily from your childhood or from your social media “tribe”?  I’m convinced we can choose these mindsets and few things matter more in life.

I always value your comments, thoughts…and mindsets!

Posted in Faith, Inspirational, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Restorative Nature of Our World…and Our Bodies

I wrote a few years ago about Eric Metaxas’ book called, Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life and I was most intrigued by Chapter 5 that explained the infinitely perfect and delicate balance that allows life to be sustained on this earth and within our universe.  It is so delicate that no reasonable person (atheist or theist) could conclude that we live in an environment that ‘accidentally’ resulted in this perfect balance.  In essence, the biggest miracle of all time is our ability to live in a self-sustaining environment with water, gravity, and nutrients sufficient to sustain life.

I found a link to the video below that highlights the essence of the finely-tuned nature of our universe.  In fact, it’s why I have come to believe that a person has to have more faith in random chance to believe our universe is an accident than it does to believe that a sovereign God created our existence.  Because it’s only 6 minutes long, it may be easier for you to watch this than to read Metaxas’ entire book (or volumes of books for that matter) on the topic: Video

This Covid-19 Pandemic has also prompted a similar fascination within me about God’s grand design in our world – the restorative nature of our bodies.  I know there is a tremendous amount of debate currently on the ideal timing to end social distancing and the time it will take for a vaccine to be developed but is it possible that we’re missing the most profound reality in all of this – that God designed our bodies (and our world for that matter) to be able to withstand these types of external health threats?

I’m amazed by how our bodies heal themselves.  Have you given this much thought?  If you accidentally cut your finger in the process of slicing an apple and begin bleeding, and then clean the cut and put a bandage on it, within 4-5 days the cut will be almost indiscernible.

Or when we become ill with the flu or a fever, your body’s immune system kicks into high gear to attack whatever threatens your well-being to defeat the “enemy” bacteria or virus that has compromised your health.  It’s stunning to ponder how God could have designed our vascular, neural, and immune systems in this way!  How does it happen?  I found this simple overview of this design published by Temecula Center for Integrative Medicine:

How does your body heal itself?

Healing happens in a variety of ways. Here is a very basic overview of just a few of them.

Cells can heal themselves when they become unhealthy and replicate to replace destroyed or damaged cells. If you break a bone, your body immediately begins producing new cells to heal the damage. When your skin is cut, platelets in your blood clot to stop the bleeding, white blood cells remove the dead, injured cells and new healthy cells repair the damaged tissue. Daily wear and tear are also promptly dealt with. In fact, our bodies are in a constant state of removing damage and producing new, healthy tissue.

 Our immune system is also meant to deal with intruders such as viruses, bacteria, and toxins. Mucus traps foreign materials, acids in various organs kills organisms, and a type of white blood cell called phagocytes engulf and destroy invaders. Natural killer cells recognize when one of our own cells have been invaded by a virus and destroy the infected cell. Inflammation, while it seems like it should be a problem, is actually your body’s reaction to an injury or infection, allowing your immune system to focus on restoring the injured or infected area to health. A fever is your body raising its temperature to levels that will kill viruses and bacteria. The elevation in temperature also triggers certain cellular mechanisms which help your body fight the infection.

All of what is described above happens on “auto-pilot” in a body that is functioning properly – which is nothing short of miraculous.

So…while you may be panicked (or a least highly concerned and preoccupied) that none of us can truly be safe until scientists develop all the tests and vaccines to properly fight this pandemic, please don’t forget that the Great Healer, our Creator, has already built an enormous amount of capability into our world and into your body to help us mitigate the risks of accidents, illnesses and diseases.

I always welcome your thoughts and hope, if nothing else, that these types of posts force all of us to examine what we really believe and ultimately, who’s in control of our existence and our eternal future.

Posted in Faith, Inspirational, Social issues | 1 Comment

Is Change Painful…or Welcome For You?

Do you look forward to change in your life or avoid it like the plague?

Do you make changes proactively or do you allow inertia and habits to dominate your choices?

And when change does occur, is it usually painful or a breath of fresh air?

When I think back to my career choices, the companies that I worked for and the roles that I occupied, I would grow restless after 2-3 years in a role.  In fact, I’d usually pursue a new position and/or company within 4 years of starting another throughout the first 20 years of my career.  The evidence of this disruption is that Devonie and I moved 6 times in the first 9 years of our marriage, most of which were cross-country.

What I’m finding more recently is that as I get older, I’ve become less desirous and less-well adapted to change.  We recently moved from one house to another in our same hometown here in Georgia and it’s the first time we had moved in 27 years.  It was more disruptive and unsettling than any previous move I can recall.  In fact, this one was likely more difficult on us than any previous – perhaps because we realized that we had over-accumulated “stuff” over the previous 37 years of marriage and raising a family and we failed to purge to the extent we should have.  Sound at all familiar to you?

Here’s a parallel for the many job seekers today who’ve recently been told they are “excess” and who may feel as though this involuntary employment change is unwelcome (or even tragic).  I’ve talked with countless people over the years that don’t like their job and yet they won’t proactively look for a better job.  In essence, they’ve chosen to experience the pain of the wrong job/company (for most of their waking hours BTW) rather than experience the hard work and discomfort of looking for a new job and the change associated with that entire process.  Which is usually a terrible choice in the scheme of things.

For those willing to embrace change instead of avoiding it like the plague – perhaps this is an unparalleled opportunity to do something new?  Something you wouldn’t have otherwise been given the opportunity to try.  Maybe it’s the perfect time to make the move you always felt you should have made…even if it wasn’t your choice.

I suppose the challenge I’m issuing to myself and to others of you who may benefit: change is not only necessary, it’s inevitable.  And, it’s often really healthy for us.  Why?

  • Because it forces us to adapt to new situations and not become stale in “the way things have always been”
  • Because it helps us to learn and grow personally, professionally, and even spiritually
  • And because it prevents us from being complacent and overly comfortable in our lives

My encouragement to you: perhaps it’s time to proactively make change happen in your life.    Do the uncomfortable.  Complacency is often the most comfortable short-term option for us; but it’s almost always a compromise for you personally.  You may be “comfortable” today…but change will equip you to grow and thrive in this rapidly and ever-changing world.

I always welcome your comments and suggestions!

Posted in Business-related, Careers, Inspirational | Leave a comment