Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Chicks

When I was just a boy, one year at Easter my Dad bought my brother and I a couple of baby chicks. One was blue and one was yellow. I am sure this was their natural color. (Not!) We brought the chicks home and let them roam in our back yard. Amazingly enough they seemed very healthy and happy there. Soon they lost their blue and yellow color and grew into very normal looking chickens. All day long they would just scratch and peck and roam our rather large back yard. They got fat and big and then one day they were gone.

That evening we gathered around the table for our evening meal and we said thanks for the bounty that was set before us. We had mashed potatoes, green beans, homemade bread, and the most delicious fried chicken I had ever tasted! It seemed as if it was fresh off the farm!

At some point, my brother and I who must have been as "dumb as a bag of hammers" made the connection between the missing chickens in the backyard and the finger licking good supper we had just consumed. How can you weep over fried chicken? We did.

My brother and I remembered how cute they were, how cuddly they were, and wept great big crocodile tears, as we digested what had happened.

A few weeks later we both received new puppy dogs, given to us from a neighbor friend. We both thought about the future and told Mom that we did not want these puppies. "But why", Mom said, "you have been begging for puppies for so long?" We both teared up and then she knew.

Dad explained that we did not eat dogs - dogs fetch balls, catch Frisbees, and chase cars. Dogs are man's best friend - we do not eat dogs. This assurance helped us receive the puppies with great joy.

One day my brother, who was known for his wisdom, said to me, within the hearing of my Dad, "It is hard to be a chicken."

This became a favorite bit of wisdom passed down in our family - someday it may appear in my brothers first volume of wisdom for the common man.

Feel free to use this wisdom any way that best suits your needs - it can be used at work, in family life, even as a sermon illustration, in a blog entry, and someone should put it on a bumper sticker.

Have a joyous Easter - the true message of Easter has nothing to do with baby chicks and dimwitted brothers - it is a message of life, life in the Son, life abundant and everlasting!

That is something worth celebrating!

Just thinking, Steve

Thursday, March 25, 2010

You're Worth It

Sometime back a friend told me that he had started therapy for some personal issues he was facing and was seeing a Psychotherapist. He said the biggest challenge was to set aside the time and the money to do it. I said to him, "That's wonderful! You are worth it!" When I said it, I saw his eyes well up with tears. Being the "manly men" that we were, I said nothing about his "wet eyes" and neither did he. About a week later, I got a note from him. The note said, "You will never know how much it meant to me, when you said, "you are worth it!"

One of the things that I have noticed about people is that many of us don't believe we "are worth it." Most of the people that I meet who are so angry or defensive or anxious are people who believe that they are "not worth it." Often the reason it is so hard to be around them and deal with their bizarre behavior is because they see themselves as either worthless or worth very little. They may put a brave, pride filled front on but down deep they see themselves as a person of little real value.

I remind my self often that I am created in the image of my creator and that my creator makes masterpieces everyday. I also remind myself that despite all the ways that I have messed up God's great creation, that because of his love I am renewed and growing more and more into his image day by day. (Genesis 1:27; II Corinthians 3:18)

So, I say to you today, even if you don't feel it right now, you are worth it!

Just thinking, Steve

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I had some time off for Spring Break recently and spent a good deal of the time doing what I call recreational reading. I read at work several hours each day but it is rarely what I would call recreational reading. I am preparing to teach a class or make a presentation or write an article or a preparing a speech or message. On vacation, I read purely fun stuff. Richard Russo, Lee Child, Robert Crais, Carl Hiason, Steve Martin - writers that take me off my normal path into a world of craziness, mystery, and the like.

So what is recreational reading? For me, it is the joy of the story. The story can be fun, silly, sad, scary, even wild and crazy - I love a good story. It gives my brain a break from the seriousness of normal life - of work, of projects, of research. Heaven knows my brain needs a break. It has a way of recharging my battery and refreshing my spirit.

My taste in fun reading is probably not like yours - no matter - it relaxes and re-creates me.

That word recreation is literally to be re-created - to get new energy, new zip in your mental attitude. After all those funny, crazy, fast paced stories of weird people, I returned from my brief break with a light feeling. Relaxed, refreshed, and ready to tackle the real stuff of life.

On my first day back at work, I am preparing a memorial service - the service is this evening. This is real life - the reality of death and loss which intrudes into our daily lives. The recreation time helps recharge us for times like these.

Even Jesus needed to withdraw from the crowds - how much more do we need to do that as well.

Off to work we go - feeling energized for the tasks before us.

Just thinking, Steve

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

People Make Me Laugh

The single most amusing activity of my life is listening to and observing people. People do make me cry, they do make me mad, they sometimes make me shake my head in disgust, but most of the time people just make me laugh.

Dogs and cats are often funny and people seem to always have their video camera going when their cat or dog does something really funny. But people are funny day after day, week after week, year after year - sometimes they are so funny that you can spray milk out of your nose, if you are not careful. I avoid drinking milk when I am watching people. The risk of a milk spray is just to great.

I recently saw a guy talking to another guy and the entire time he was sticking a pencil in his ear. I do not know what he was probing for but he kept it up during the entire conversation. I am so glad I was not drinking milk when I saw him - I would have had a major explosion of the bovine fluid on my hands.

On my way to work one morning I watched as a woman talked on her cell phone, put on her make-up, brushed her hair, drank her coffee and drove her rather large SUV, at a high rate of speed, all at the same time. OK, I know I should not laugh at this but, it was so funny to see someone who had taken the fine art of multi-tasking to new heights. (or lows, if you are the one she runs over!)

Just recently, I saw a man who left his fly down and his shirt tail was coming out the opening flapping in the wind. He would walk by and people would almost fall down laughing - I had to wonder how he felt when he finally noticed later that his fly was down and that he was flying a flag! Hopefully he laughed heartily about it.

I realize that sometimes laughing at people is just cruel. I have no interest in doing that. Kids were very cruel to kids who looked a bit different when I was in Junior and Senior High. The laughing was often mean spirited and hurt others deeply. I am not talking about that kind of laughing. What I have in mind are just the odd and quirky things we do each day that are just so hilarious. I know that I do them and despite all efforts to be cool, I am far from it. Once when I was about 13 years old, my brother and I went fishing on a small creek and when it started to get dark the skunks came out and starting chasing us and we sprinted with our fishing gear in hand across an open field. It was almost dark so I never saw the single wire about belly high that was in front of me - it was a "hot wire" designed to keep the cows in the field and off the road. I was ahead of my brother in a full sprint when I hit the wire and fell to the ground laying on top of the wire. About every 3 seconds a surge of electricity would hit me and I would scream - my brother on the other hand was laughing his little league hat off his head. I still have great compassion for the shock that cows get when they bump up against a hot wire.

The wisdom of Proverbs says that a "merry heart is good medicine". Laughing is good therapy and I often provide people with excellent opportunities to feel better after they get a big belly laugh watching one of my funny escapades. I am glad to be of service.

I need more good laughter in my life - don't you? Just pay attention to people around you and it will bring a smile to your heart!

Remember: I am watching and listening - do something funny! You can count on me to return the favor!

Just thinking, Steve

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Life Is Good

I spend a good deal of time each day hearing people's problems. This has been true for more than three decades now and it will not likely change in the future. This is my life. I am a listener. I am called to be a helper. While some of what I hear truly pulls at my heart strings and can even sap my energy for a while, I understand something about this life I have. This is a good life.

It is a wondrous place to be involved with people who are hurting and are reaching out for help. If I may say it this way, it is a sacred place. I know personally what it is like to be hurting and to need someone to listen and to care and to offer wise counsel. This is holy ground.

On occasion, someone will say to me something like, "I don't know how you do it." While all of us suffer from fatigue at times in our work, doing good work is energizing. It gives us a real sense of purpose and meaning. This is true if you are teaching children in an elementary classroom or being a therapist with people facing relational struggles. Good work is rewarding and affirms that we are blessed with a good life.

Paul had this great line where he said, "we are God's workmanship (meaning handcrafted for good work) created in Christ Jesus for good works that were prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10)

Whatever your work - your calling - your task - do it with all your heart!

Even God looked at his work and said, "This is good, very good!"

Life is good - even with the bumps in the road and all the challenges - it is good.

Just thinking, Steve