Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Prepare for the Worst / Expect the Best!

Well, it’s fast approaching, it’s almost here, and it’s about to happen: my hard-wired, time clock is sounding the alarm; my built-in tachometer is about ready to redline; my internal odometer is about to move to a very significant digit… I am about to turn 50.
Quite a number of people arrived have at this milestone ahead of me, what wisdom could they offer a fellow traveler? Here are some funny ones I found and enjoyed reading:
“Looking fifty is great… if you’re sixty.” ~ Joan Rivers
“If I knew I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself.”
~ Mickey Mantle
“I'm not 50, I'm 49.95, plus tax!” ~ anonymous

It is somewhat difficult not to start believing that I should search out and find more sand for my misshapen hourglass or rollback my odometer somehow. Here I stand, on the brink of the age precipice, with no retreat, no relief, no ability of turning back. Is it all down hill from here? Or is it? Each day, it feels like I am struggling to go up hill more and more. This old body does not function as smoothly as it once did, long ago. But in truth, it is not the years; it’s the mileage …and the inadequate level of maintenance too. Over the past 30 years I have been a slacker in the area of fitness. Too much TV and evening snacks have had their way with me and I now find myself a diabetic cancer survivor, 40 lbs overweight, with a 50% blockage in my right carotid artery. The true picture of our condition and circumstances, can be quite sobering:
"Turning 50 gives me more yesterdays than tomorrows." ~ anonymous
The years between fifty and seventy are the hardest. You are always being asked to do more, and you are not yet decrepit enough to turn them down. ~ T.S. Eliot
I'm aiming by the time I'm fifty to stop being an adolescent. ~ Wendy Cope
Aging seems to be the only available way to live a long life. ~ Daniel Francois Esprit Auber
“Forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age” ~ anonymous

I can choose how to view my life, as I survey it from this milestone. I can look back on my life and see mis-steps, missed opportunities and misfortunes of my own or I can see the countless blessings that my creator has bestowed on this worthless soul. I can be choose to look upon my life negatively our upon my loving God’s gift of blessings and grace positively. Too often I opt for the former, knowing the latter is a far better reaction to our Lords continual provision.
This weekend I will be celebrating 50 years of life with true thanksgiving to God for His grace. I have much to be thankful for. I have my beautiful wife Traci who loves me in spite of and through my flaws. Her patience and love for me have demonstrated Gods love to me time and time again. I have three beautiful children Skyler, Dylan and Kaycee who are a complete joy. Each of them joyfully and openly receiving and growing in the love and knowledge of Christ. I have a brother, Jeff and sister, Andrea and a full complement of nieces and nephews that reach out and love me even in the sporadic times we assemble and share. I have a loving mother who always has a smile and kind word to say, in spite of the piecemeal attention I extend to her. This family of mine deserves far better than I give them and yet they accept what I give anyway as a full portion and in so doing they demonstrate to me the love and grace of Christ.
I have two dear friends Kent and Michael who love me and entrust me to keep them accountable to the God they love and to the spiritual growth they wish to achieve. What an honor it is to serve them in that capacity and to have them reciprocate the favor far better than I am able to do for them. Most importantly I have a God who loves me, has a plan for me and wishes to give me the desires of my heart. Sure, I pray that my physical health will improve, but more importantly I pray that my spiritual fitness will soar to new heights and that I will always have an answer for the hope that is within me:
By the time we hit fifty, we have learned our hardest lessons. We have found out that only a few things are really important. We have learned to take life seriously, but never ourselves. ~ Marie Dressler
“Except ye become as little children, except you can wake on your fiftieth birthday with the same forward-looking excitement and interest in life that you enjoyed when you were five, "ye cannot enter the kingdom of God." One must not only die daily, but every day we must be born again.” ~ Dorothy L. Sayers


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Attitude – A Window Into The Soul

Recently I saw a movie that contained the following line “I want to get a face lift to improve my looks, you know… the face is the window into the soul!” I remember laughing at the line, feeling that if that were true…. then I had a rather wrinkled, leathery soul. It is true however that smiling faces are always more inviting and soothing to the spirit than frowns, snarls or the variety of displeased facial contortions of a downcast spirit.
It is truly amazing how contagious moods can be. Up beat people are a joy to be near, depressed people are a joy to be far from. Maintaining a positive attitude is important in your effect on those you encounter on a daily basis. Some of these people may not know Christ and you may be a key player in their exposure to Him.
Unemployment figures due out Friday are expected to show that the U.S. lost a net total of 500,000 jobs in December. If accurate, that would bring 2008's total job losses to 2.4 million, the first annual job loss since 2001 and the highest since 1945, though the number of jobs has more than tripled since then. If that news does not depress you, have a look at your 401K balances. I am reminded of a passage from Charles Swindoll’s book “Strengthening Your Grip” on the importance of a proper attitude:

"Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens and 90 percent how we respond to it. I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me, my circumstances or my position. Attitude keeps me going or cripples my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope. When my attitudes are right there’s no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me."
What a great attitude about attitudes! Also there is Paul’s Letter to the Church in Philippi to consider (Philippians 4: 6-9):
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you"
While our firm has managed to retain all of our employees during this economic downturn, we have gone to reduced work hours, which has forced us all to “tighten up our belts” by 20%. Such financial changes challenge our faith. I hope and pray that as people of faith, we repond to such challenges as God would have us. I remain His. I remain All In!