Saturday, October 24, 2009

Be Exceptional!

Sometimes a thought jumps out at me when I am reading something and I know that I should really think about it But every once in awhile, that same idea shows up in multiple places and then I know I need to embrace it and make it part of my life. That's what happened to me this morning.

During my devotions on Wednesday morning, I was reading in "My Utmost for His Highest" and Oswald Chambers made a statement that grabbed my attention. While the complete statement was longer than this, here is the part that spoke to me. It said " exceptional in the ordinary things of life." Wow! I couldn't let go of that thought.

I jotted the quote on a scrap of paper and tucked it in my bag to take to work with me. Throughout the day I read those words over and over again. I pondered what that would look like in my life. What if we all gave our very best efforts to the everyday situations that we face, and to the people who touch our lives. No more of the "just enough to get by" attitude. How could we change our world?

So, this morning, I was once again having my devotions. As I leafed through some of the recent devotions I had read in a little book called "Joy & Strength," my eye caught a sentence that I had underlined on September 24. It read like this, " everything, however ordinary, as well as it can possibly be done, for God's sake." There it was again, the call to be exceptional in the ordinary things of our lives!

Most of us dream about doing something big, something exceptional that will impact this world. There is nothing wrong with that. It's just that, very few of us ever achieve anything quite that dramatic.

But, here's what I'm suggesting: we can all be exceptional. We have the power to take the "ordinary" in our lives and make it extraordinary by giving it our best effort. Every situation, every relationship, every disappointment and trial...they all can be transformed. God honors our efforts when we choose to give our best.

So go for it. Be exceptional! It's not every day that an opportunity like this comes along...well, actually it is!

Monday, October 19, 2009


When spring flowers start to win the war against winter and suddenly the world is all pink, yellow and blue, it's hard to image that anything can be as beautiful as that raucous display.
But yesterday I went on my walk and was reminded again how God never fails to take my breath away with the fiery colors of autumn. As much as I hate to let go of warm summer days, I am always richly rewarded when I embrace the change of seasons and give myself over to the brisk fall air, the cascade of falling leaves and the sense of coziness that only comes with autumn.
I know that in a few short weeks, the trees will once again be bare and their boney branches will stand stark against leaden skies, but for now, the world is on fire with color, and I'm loving it!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Taking the Plunge

I'm a planner. I like to weigh all the angles and figure out the best approach before I jump into things. So sometimes, it takes me a while before I'm ready to take the plunge.

I've seen a bit of myself in my son recently. For some time now, David has been weighing the pros and cons of going back to school to get his Master's degree. He has done a lot of research into different programs, and different schools. He's thought a lot about WHEN he should do this and IF he should to it. It's a big decision with a big price tag.

But he's finally taken the plunge. David was recently accepted into grad school at Indiana Weslyan University where he will earn a degree in ministry and leadership (sorry, I don't know the actual title). Since he will continue to work full time as a Young Adults pastor, he's probably looking at more than a couple of years before he will finish the program. So it's a big commitment.

On Tuesday, David will catch a plane for Indiana where he'll spend a few days going through the program orientation. When he returns, life takes on a whole new feel. Once again he becomes the student while still trying to find time to be a husband and pastor.

I know he can do it even though it won't be easy. But in the end, all the planning, the sacrifice and the work will be worth it. And often, the most difficult part can be taking that initial plunge.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Simple Things in Life

My friend, Rene, had a birthday last Sunday. I love her take on birthdays. According to her, October is her "birthday month," so she is more than willing to accept birthday greetings and gifts throughout the entire month! I say, if you can get people to buy into that philosophy, go for it!

One of the things I love about Rene is her appreciation for beauty in the simple things of life. I'm not kidding when I say that she is moved to tears when she changes her calendar each month and a pretty new picture shows up. Or she'll tell me "Look at the apple I brought in my lunch. Isn't it pretty?" And of course her eyes are all teary as she shows it to me. It's who she is and I love it!

So, last week I was trying to come up with an idea for a simple little gift. I thought of one idea after another and quickly discarded each one. Finally, inspiration hit!

And that's how I ended up standing in the produce department of Safeway on Friday night holding up one apple after another and asking myself, "Is this apple pretty or not?" To be honest, I'd never really considered that question before. So it took some time, and I imagine that I got some funny looks from fellow shoppers, but finally I found three or four contenders! With a little creative packaging, I was ready to go.

Monday morning, I hurried into the office so I could place my little beauty on her desk before she arrived. And guess what! She loved it! A simple little apple (with a few tasty caramels!) brought her to tears, and me as well. I had so much fun finding the perfect gift for Rene, but in the process, she gave me a wonderful gift...a new appreciation for the simple things in life.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Walmart Wanderings

It's Friday night and usually on a Friday, it would take an act of God or at least a really great sale to get me to leave my house once I make it home. But tonight I decided to head over to Walmart to pick up a few items that I couldn't find when I went grocery shopping.

It was an unusual experience in a couple of ways. First, the usual aisle hogs were missing. You know who I mean. Those folks who seem to find nothing wrong with stopping right smack in the middle of the aisle to either discipline an unruly child or make the seemingly difficult decision of whether to buy plain or peanut. They must have made all of their purchases earlier in the day because tonight, the aisles were wide open and I was able to cruise to my heart's content.

The other unusual thing was that there was an entire section of clearance items. Not just your usual aisle or two, but a whole corner of the store. And it had a wide variety of "treasures" to choose from. Being the rather frugal person that I am, I usually think twice before stocking up on items even if they are on clearance. But I think that the stress of the past few weeks must have finally been too much!

I went up and down those aisles lopping one item after another into my shopping cart. Two new light green pillows...check! Three shower curtain liners...check! One bright green three-hole punch...check! One Miley Cyrus backpack...okay, maybe not that one! But the point it is, I was getting in the mood.

Then I headed over to do the shopping that I had actually set out to do. Shampoo, bar soap, cold medicine. Oh yeah, the really fun stuff. I went up and down the aisles checking out the Thanksgiving decorations (totally skipped the Halloween stuff since I've never liked the holiday) when suddenly I remembered that Boss's Day is in October! Good save, since I'm the one in the office who winds up planning for these types of occasions. So, Boss's Day card...check!

By the time I headed for the check out, I figured I had done a little damage (well, relatively speaking, this is Walmart and I am cheap, I mean frugal!). The total was a bit more than I was expecting. Oh well, my new pillows give the family room a whole new look! And should the occasion arise, I am armed and ready to do some serious hole punching!