Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The bowl, the fish INSIDE the bowl... or the CAT!?

What a beautiful day... The afternoon sun is busy setting, but I’ve still found a very sunny spot from which to have a good look and admire its beauty.

When I turn to one side I get a whiff of someone’s aftershave or deodorant that is not complimenting my Latte very well... When I turn to another you smell the most divine aromas from the kitchen... Pizza, I believe...

Change is in the air. The schools closed today – most of them anyway – there is an excitement for the new found liberty in the air; parents for not having to plan their day according to the kids’ school schedules or extracurricular activities, and kids for not being confined to the limiting space of the classroom for a few weeks... aaaaah... FREEDOM! That, and the World Cup Soccer fever, of course :)

That is the only thing that I envy teachers for: their frequent and long annual holidays. I wish I could have one just about now. Oh well, one can always have a holiday in your mind; sometimes for merely making small changes in the way you think, the things you notice around you (observing) and the sounds and smells that you notice if you just take a moment to be in the moment.

I went shopping yesterday for a few basic grocery items for the house. I was rather hungry wondering through the aisles. I impulsively decided to grab a packet of crisps. I had a deliberate craving for something savory / beefy. I was looking for something specific and couldn’t see it at a glance. It cost me scrutinizing the shelves, looking at each and every product in order to find the one I was looking for. I realized something... There were so many items that I have never seen or heard of before. Not for it not being on the shelves all along, but just for not looking, not taking note. I had no idea that it existed, let alone what it tastes like, what you would use it for, or what it cost (until yesterday anyway). The only thing I was able to figure out with regard to it was the price – the label on the shelve...

I’m sure most of you have been trained on a new job or responsibility of some sort before. It’s all new to you and you have to listen very attentively. You’re tuned in differently than when you’ve been doing it for so long that you can do so with your eyes closed. In your mind questions start to rise, “why do it this way?” or “why at this time, and not that?” Maybe it doesn’t quite make sense, or you immediately identify a method that could achieve the same result, but maybe faster or more efficiently. In asking the big “WHY”, the response goes something like this, “I don’t know; that’s how we’ve always done it”, or “I don’t know; this is how I was trained when I first started doing it”.

Not much of a meaningful answer to my mind, always seeking to understand the “why?”. How do you do anything meaningful (or excellently for that matter) if you’re merely going through the motions like a puppet, parroting whatever someone else taught you, without any understanding / insight? What this answer does indicate for me though, is that very little thought (if any) has gone into this process.

Sometimes we just go through the motions of life as well. We fall into the rut of whatever we’re doing, eventually losing sight of why we do it that way or how it came about that we started doing it that way, or even doing it in the first place. We lose our ability to think innovatively; to think and be creative in our approach. We lose the adventure and we start merely existing. We start “flying on auto pilot”, so to speak.

You buy items in the shop that you’ve always bought just because you’ve always bought it. Your mind is no more perceptive to new ideas, new adventures, new tastes and flavors...

You mingle with the same group of friends because you’ve been friends since kinder garden. You don’t really connect meaningfully and you might not even hear the conversations anymore, but you just notice the lips moving... thinking that you’ve heard this before, you’re sure...

You go the same holiday destination every year because you’ve been going there for years; your dad used to take the family there, and his dad before him...
You eat at the same restaurant every time because you know the menu, and you always order the same favourite dish...

But what if...?

What if we deliberately start to open our mind to new ideas and new experiences? What if we start trying a different restaurant occasionally, or read a different kind of book / magazine to what you usually read? What if you open your mind to meeting new people and learning a few new things from them? What if you dare to try a new recipe in your cook book that you’ve always just paged past? What if you ride the different route with your bike or just lie in bed in morning for five minutes deliberately listening to the morning song of the birds, welcoming the day? What if YOU make the morning coffee for a change and you notice the sunshine through the window; you never knew it was THAT beautiful? What if...?

I’m hungry for new experiences! I’m hungry for new friends (not discarding the old ones; there is most certainly a measure of comfort in the familiarity of those that have travelled with you through good and bad times), but every now and again you need a fresh challenge; some fresh ideas and perspectives; some new jokes to laugh about and to tell to your old friends at the next braai / BBQ (...a tradition you’ve had for years...) haha ;) Every now and again you need a new song to dance to.

I’m hungry to see things around me through new eyes and to think crisp, new thoughts. I want to think out of the box and I want to have new adventures. I want to have a fresh perspective on my surroundings and the way I do things and why.

I’m not talking about re-inventing the wheel... just tweaking the spokes a bit... make it interesting again... Add something small, change the colours a bit. Look people in the eye when you get into an elevator, instead of staring at the numbers. Notice the color of someone’s bag, someone’s tie, or the color of their eyes. REALLY listen when someone speaks, and ask questions “why?”. Travel and see new scenery (even if only through the eyes of others). Try a new restaurant – apparently not all coffee tastes the same – haha... call the waiter by name... Maybe even complain if you didn’t like the service instead of going home miserable and taking it out on your family or the dog.What if you found a new (and maybe even better) route to work, or maybe next time you are stuck in rush hour traffic, look around and notice something that you drive past every day, yet have never noticed before.

If someone suggests a better way of doing something, at least think about it... you might learn something new... or share again why you do it the way you do... maybe it reminds you and teaches THEM something new...

Hell! You never know, but at least open your mind to the possibilities... You can have the greatest adventure right where you’re at!

IF not? WHY not?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Do I? Don't I? Can I affort NOT to?

My greatest heart desire is to make a difference. A dear friend of mine sent me this quote – she said it made her think of me and I cannot respond any other way than with an UNDENIABLE “YES!”
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything You gave me.””
To make a difference takes courage; GUTS has a stronger feel to it for me. In my life I’ve experienced a lot of pain for this reason.
You learn that people are not perfect, and regardless of their best intentions we do hurt each other. You learn that not all relationships are meant to last a lifetime. Sometimes the reason might be something you need, and sometimes you’re meeting a need in someone else’s life. You never know. Me? I say “Lord, just never let it be empty handed.” If it’s going to be painful at some point, let it at least never be suffering in vain... (smile)...
You learn that there will always be those ones who don’t appreciate the gold and diamonds that you offer; for them it is like throwing pearls to pigs; they simply don’t realize the value of your offering.You learn that there are those who will not believe in you or what you do or stand for. There will be those who might even try to stop you from doing it.
There will be those who will be jealous because for them it is about who is in the limelight and it is not them. You will learn that there are those who pretend to be one thing and act like something else behind your back... hypocrites... You learn that people will always gossip and some people will choose to never change.
You also discover precious people along your journey. You learn that there are those who truly care, and those who truly share in your passions. You discover those who laugh with you and stick around to cry with you. You learn that people can truly care and love and you learn that everyone is really (consciously or subconsciously) searching for a deeper, more meaningful life. You learn that sometimes you’re part of their journey to find it.
You learn that there are those who choose to grow and change; those who reach with you for greater heights; those who can hear your heart beating and those who do see your vision.
You learn that, no matter how AWESOME a leader you are, NO ONE does anything great by themselves. If no one is following, who are you leading in order to be a leader?
You also learn that it can break your heart to see hardship and sadness – but those are the very ones who need you; who need your strength, who need your gifts and abilities; who need your time and (from time to time) your money. No matter what, there will always be men of riches and valor and there will always be those who never go further than sweeping a street or even being a beggar on a street corner.
There are always those in need who remind us of how much we have to be grateful for. And there are always those who have and do more than we do in order to remind us that there is always more to reach for... you never arrive.
So, do we stare at those who hurt others out of their own pain and broken past? Do we use the risk that we might get in the line of fire as an excuse to step back and just do nothing because this is a reality about life; an ugly reality?
I say NO! I will not shrink back. There are too many who need me; who needs what I have to offer. I have cried countless tears when something has come so close to my heart and it is torn away for whatever reason. I have made up my mind that I will not regret the time that I DID have to make an impact; to make a difference; to let my light shine (even if my own pot is also cracked)!
I see it like this: God chooses my assignments. He chooses the person(s), the time, the place and also the duration of that which I’m supposed to be making a contribution to for His purposes. All He needs from me is my willingness to give, and my obedience to Him in doing what He needs from me. It is after all He who gave me what I have. It is for Him that I was created and I am after all merely an instrument in the hands of my Maker; ready to worship and please Him with my obedience.
But when the assignment is over.... you’d better “raise your hands and step away from the vehicle”... When God says your part is done, you must stop. If His anointing is not on it anymore, it can in fact become destructive... But when (and while) He is in it, LIFE WILL come forth, because that is the nature of the KING!!
The hardest, though, is when the time is over or the purpose has been achieved and it is time to let go; to let go of something that was never mine to begin with, but that I had grown attached to while I was giving it everything I have. The tendency is to try and hold on to it, but when God says it is over and “Elvis leaves the building” so to speak, then the "magic" is over. His anointing is not on it anymore and that which once flourished can become dangerously poisonous and even destructive.
However, does it mean that I rather don’t have relationship because there might come a time (probably will come a time) when the relationship will end and at that time it will hurt? OF COURSE NOT! If you didn’t have the experience before it ended you would have had NOTHING. But for having had the experience you’ve gained much riches, and a little sadness... In life, though, you can never only have happiness and laughter... it only comes in a combo pack of good AND bad; kind of a “buy one, get one free” deal ;)
These relationships will often end through natural means; moving house, changing jobs, suddenly discovering something you didn’t know before, getting married, having a baby and not having spare time to build the relationship... it is really not personal... it is merely finished... people and circumstances, the pieces on the chess board of life.
I choose not to remain uninvolved because there will be pain or disappointment. I know that God will help me to get over it and move on... and He will use it to teach me and empower me and prepare me for every next “assignment”... each one another step towards my destiny... living His dream for my life!I cannot just stand by and watch... There is simply too much at stake and the clock is ticking!
LIVE LIFE NOW! LIVE IT TO THE FULL. Do what you want to do; do what you need to do; choose your priorities carefully and wisely. Cherish the relationships in your life. You never know when change happens. NEVER LOOK BACK WITH REGRET! Keep the good – learn from the bad before you forget it, and be true to yourself! If it is not pretty, do something about it; MAKE it pretty; But DON’T you DARE MAKE EXCUSES!!!
And then, when all has been said and done... STAND!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Where doves go to die

Our world has changed a lot over the years. Technology has become very advanced; so much so that a great deal is instantly possible in our modern day. We live in bigger houses, we use more electricity, we drive fancier and faster cars and we cut down more trees.

it ever occurred to you that the animals around us might also have evolved in their behavior? I am thinking of the birds that sing in our gardens, the pets in our homes, the ducks on the ponds in our neighborhoods...

This thought occurred to me for the first time
roughly two weeks prior to writing this blog. Driving into my driveway, arriving home, I noticed a turtle dove (a wild dove – not a pet) sitting in the way. I almost ran him over (but I didn’t). He was supposed to take to flight... to escape an awful fate such as being run over by a car, but he didn’t. He didn’t try to get to safety... I thought he might have been hurt. I stopped and went over to see what was the matter. He didn’t try to escape. I touched him... he didn’t try to escape... Instead he climbed into my hand...

I have a parrot as a pet; I love birds. Over the years I’ve learned a few things, so I wanted to see if he maybe had an injured wing. He didn’t. But still he didn’t try to escape... I put food and water down for him and he wouldn’t eat. Then it dawned on me: he was busy dying and he knew it. As soon as I put him down he crawled into a corner in my living room. He let me stroke him, but he just sat there. I sat with him and I cried... I know it is nature, but it broke my heart...

Later on I had to be out of the room for a bit and when I got back he was dead... right there in the corner... so I buried him in the garden amongst the leaves... I felt that he died with dignity. It was a better way to go than being squashed under the tyre of some car, or do we call that “nature” nowadays...?

Is it possible that they’ve caught on that if you want to die you can just sit in the middle of the road and someth
ing will run you over at some time or another? Are they “using” modern day developments to also execute “nature”...?

Then, just a week ago I was driving down my street and there was another one sitting in the road under, what would be, the left tyre of a car driving by... perfectly positioned... to be run over... I drove by and he also didn’t make any attempt to escape to safety.

“Suicide” or “nature”...? I’m assuming he was also waiting for death by car..