Sunday, February 26, 2017

2 Sides of a Coin

 I have never really understood what the phrase, "2 sides of a coin" meant until last Thursday.  Perhaps it was on my mind because I had heard someone say that love and hate are 2 sides of the same coin.  I had no clue what that meant.

I was driving in the middle lane of 4 lanes on the freeway headed toward home last Thursday morning.  I was taking full advantage of the 80 MPH speed limit.  Suddenly something sounded different.  Was it that the road had changed pavement?  Was it my car?  The sound started to get higher and higher in pitch, at which time I decided it was my car.  I looked for where I could pull over.  The edge on both sides of the freeway was very narrow.  I noticed there was an off-ramp coming up and began to move into the slow lane to get off.  As I did so, a car honked loudly at me!  It had been in my blind spot, and in my somewhat frantic desire to get off I had not looked back to see if someone was there.  I swerved back into my own lane, narrowly missing hitting him.  As I swerved back I noticed my car was not handling right, which prompted me to get off as quickly as possible.  I took the off ramp and stopped as quickly as I could.  I got out and looked at my tires.  Both tires on the drivers side were fine.  The front one on the passenger side was fine, but when I looked at the back tire on the passenger side I was shocked.  It was literally melted!  There were huge holes where I could see all the way through to the other side.  Part of the tire closest to the ground had disintegrated into a powder that was spilling out onto the pavement.  The tire was too hot to touch.  Suddenly I realized that I had forgotten my cell phone and could not call someone to come help or rescue me.  Before I could even think about what to do next a big white incident management truck pulled up behind me and a man named Rob got out.  I was stunned.  Someone had pulled up to help me, and so quickly!  I showed him the tire.  He asked it I had a spare, a thought that had not yet even occurred to me.  I opened the trunk and found the spare.  It was flat.  Rob said he had air on his truck and would pump it up and see if it would hold.  It did.  He got out his power jack and his power drill and jacked up my car, popped off the hub cap, and changed that tire in about 2 minutes flat!  The tire held its air.  (I would not like to admit that I didn't even know I had a hub cap on and probably would have tried to take the lug nuts off of it, that is IF I could have figured out how to use the jack)  I was back on the road within 10 minutes of his coming to my rescue.  Amazing!  I thanked him profusely and was on my way.

As I drove home on my spare tire I was thinking about this incident.  On the one hand, I had had a flat tire, nearly gotten in an accident, had a spare that was flat, and had to buy a new tire when I got home (that ended up costing $100 I was not planning on spending).  I had also missed an important appointment and had no way to contact them to let them know I was not coming.

On the other hand, my car had handled well enough to get me off of the freeway.  I was NOT in an accident.  Someone stopped to help me immediately.  That person happened to have air to pump up my flat tire right on his truck. (what are the chances?)  The spare held the air.  I did not have to change the tire myself.  Miraculously the rim was not damaged.  I was back on the road quickly.  Amazing!

2 sides of the same coin.......the coin being the experience and the sides the perspectives.  I finally got it.

3 days later I had another experience.  I came home from a meeting last Sunday to find water pouring onto my kitchen floor from the cupboard underneath the sink.  I yelled for my husband who was upstairs.  He went down to the basement to turn the water off, and discovered it was "raining" down there.  Together with our children we spent the next 2 1/2 hours mopping up water and drying things out.   Some of our possessions had been damaged, including journals and photo albums.  What a day!  We called the insurance company as soon as they opened for the week.  An adjuster came out and said that the floor would need to be replaced, and to do that right, the cabinets would also have to come out.  I remembered that there are 2 sides of the coin.

On the one side, this is a huge project that has a $1,000 deductible at an inopportune time.  (is there an opportune time for such a price?).  We have 2 trips scheduled this year that are expensive, something we never do, so it is even more inopportune!  We had hoped to spend that much money on new rings for our 30th wedding anniversary this summer.  We have damaged personal belongings, and it is a terrible amount of work to tear everything out, dry everything out, and account for all the damage.

On the other side, our linoleum floor was 25 years old and in embarrassingly bad shape.  It was pulling away from the walls, and the seam down the middle had widened to show the sub-floor underneath.  It looked terrible.  It will be wonderful to replace it with a new floor, especially since the insurance company is going to pay more than half.  It is like getting a half-price new floor.  The cabinets are 1980's oak.  My husband has had all the materials and has been saving them to build new cabinets "someday".  Guess what, someday is now!  On top of that, 14 generous people showed up to help us rip out everything yesterday, and the entire kitchen floor, cabinets and a wall were removed in a 4-hour period.  A generous friend lent us a big trailer to put all the construction debris in and then hauled it away for us!  To top it off, our daughter works for a construction company and can get a deal on the flooring so we can have a little to put into whatever else needs it.  And the personal items that were damaged?  They are not damaged beyond repair, and I realized that the old pictures have not been digitized and could not have been replaced.  Now I will digitize them so they will be preserved no matter what happens; perspective I did not have before.

Being new to this understanding, I realize that sometimes it can be very difficult to see the positive side of the coin.  I have a friend whose husband told her this week that he does not love her anymore and wants to leave.  I have another friend that is facing possible jail time.  Such situations make it very difficult to see the bright side of the coin.  I believe that though very bad things may happen, if we continue to look at the positive side of the coin, we will always have a better time in this life than looking at the negative side.  No matter what is going on, no matter what has happened, there are always 2 ways to look at a situation.

Choosing to look at the positive side of the coins in my week has certainly helped me feel grateful and happy instead of negative and miserable.  May you find the happy side of the coins in your life as well.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Intentional Direction

I am 51 years old.  In the "olden days" I would have been lucky to live this long.  In today's world I probably have 20 years left, maybe 30, hopefully not 40! (though my grandma never wanted to live that long either, and she died last year at 99 years old.)

I am coming up on a cross-roads in my life.  This week I got to thinking about what I want to do with the time that I have left in this world.  I am in one of those spaces where I have already accomplished a lot.  I am coming up on that time where my greatest goal of raising my children the best I could is drawing to a close, and while I know you are never truly done raising children, my time with them under my direct supervision and instruction will soon end.  I think most people ask this question sometime around this transition time.  What now??  What do I want to do for the rest of my life?  For me, I also asked myself, "What will I regret if I do not do it?"  I want to continue to live an intentional life, not just have life happen to me.

These questions just seemed to stare me in the face this week, as though I had to figure them out right now.  I was blessed to have a chunk of quiet, uninterrupted time to myself on Thursday, so I took the opportunity to pray, meditate, ponder and write, and I came up with some wonderful answers that were things I want for myself, and that I also felt were in alignment with what God wants for me.  I found that in my heart of hearts there are 3 things I want to do, and 3 ways I want to be.

For me, one of my hearts desires centers around spending time in my home doing the things I love.  I don't want to keep being "too busy" to do the things I love for the rest of my life, which could totally happen if I am not intentional.  My other desires are about loving and serving those around me, making other's lives better, making a difference in my little corner of the world.

My 3 ways that I want to be have to do with body care and health, financial stability and close and healthy family relationships.

When I was younger I had so much in front of me that I could not narrow down all that I wanted to do and be.  Surprisingly, over the years I have discovered talents, abilities and passion for things I did not know I had when I was younger.  Besides getting a good education, raising a family was the one intentional thing thing I knew I wanted to do.  It was my biggest and longest goal, and has taken the better part of 30 years to accomplish.  It was so huge, and pretty much consumed my energy, time and thoughts. (I have 7 children)  I would not have missed it for the world.    It was the most important thing I wanted to do.  It has been a beautiful, devastating and eye-opening journey.  Not a dull moment and the most worthwhile thing I could have done with my life.  But now I am near that cross-roads I mentioned earlier, that space where the children are almost raised, and I can now choose a new intentional direction to go (an option that I have not been open to in nearly 30 years).  It is an interesting and somewhat exciting place to be.

As you consider where you are at in your own life, whether it be in the middle of raising a family, a demanding career, or at a cross-roads yourself, I encourage you to take the time to ponder the path you are on.   Is it the one you want to be on?  Is it going the direction you want to go?  Get clear and be intentional about what you want out of life, what God wants for you, and be headed in that direction.  The settled and peaceful feeling that comes from having that direction in place is priceless.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Comfort Zone

Having a comfort zone is a good thing.  We all need to feel safe, at ease and familiar with what is around us.  It is a crucial part of life.  As I visualize it in my mind, my comfort zone is somewhat like Jeannie's lamp on the old sitcom "I Dream of Jeannie." I imagine it as beautiful, with soft couches and cushions, warmth, plenty to eat, and no stress.  Sounds idyllic, right?  And it can be.  But for each of us, it is not a place we can stay indefinitely.  Just like Jeannie, who had to come out of her lamp when called, we cannot stay in our comfort zones indefinitely.  Think of what Jeannie would have missed out on in her life if she had stayed in that bottle indefinitely?  The adventures, the romance, the learning!

The comfort zone is a wonderful place, but there is no growth in the comfort zone.  "Do I need growth" I sometimes ask?  "Why can't I just stay on my soft couches, in my warmth, with plenty to eat and no stress?"  I could, but I would never know what learning, what growth, what adventures, what richness of life I would be missing.  There is no growth in the comfort zone.

The funny thing about human nature is that we actually need growth to thrive.  Staying in exactly the same place, being stagnant, is contrary to the nature of our beings.  It creates unhappiness within us.  Movement, progress, growth is what our souls need and yearn for.  It's why we are here.  We are not here to be stagnant.

I am not suggesting that you should jump out of your comfort zone with both feet and stay there.  No,  I am suggesting that making small incremental movements outside of your comfort zone is progress toward growth.

You have so much to offer the world, even your little corner of it.  There are times in life where the comfort zone is exactly where we need to be in order to rest and recover.  At other times we need a season of growth.  Ask yourself, "Is there something that is not yet in my comfort zone that I should be working on?"

A right-handed person can write their name easily with their right hand.  A left-handed person can write their name easily with their left hand.  It is in their comfort zone.  But it wasn't always so.  When you first learned to write your name it felt awkward and difficult.  It looked sloppy.  It was hard to control the pencil.  Now it is smooth and fast.  You hardly think about it.  Try writing with your non-dominant hand.  At first it feels awkward and difficult.  It again looks sloppy.  It is hard to control the pencil.  If you continue to practice with that hand that is outside its comfort zone, it slowly gets easier and easier, until that thing that felt uncomfortable before becomes comfortable!

What little thing (or big thing) would you like to add to your comfort zone?  Of course it is going to be hard at first, like learning to write with your non-dominant hand.  It will feel awkward, difficult and sloppy, but that won't stop you.  Keep working at it.  Imagine what forward movement and growth you can create in your life with these small movements!

A wonderfully successful friend of mine once said, "You should always have something on your calendar that is outside of your comfort zone".

My good friend Kathy Gowans gave me this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that he nature of the task has changed, but our power to do has increased."

Is it your time to make a movement toward growth in some area of your life?  Ask yourself: Is there something that is not yet in my comfort zone that I should be working on?  If something comes to mind, put it on your vision board, your calendar, or list it with your goals, then be brave and go for it!  You will find that each time you get outside that comfort zone and work at something, your comfort zone will grow bigger, and bigger, and bigger.  It all happens one small movement at a time.

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