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Eye to the North

"Out of the North He comes in golden splendor; God comes in awesome majesty." Job 37:22

Come Along with Me

Come Along With Me

Come Along With Me

I am teaching my daughter how to drive a car. She has her learner’s permit and knows the theory. She just needs to practice and to be exposed to different driving experiences. We don’t go out specifically to “learn to drive.” She drives us wherever we need to go. As much as she possibly can. When we are going to be encountering a new situation, I judge whether she is ready to handle it and decide if she will go ahead, if we will modify the route to avoid that situation, or if she will not drive this time. She is learning faster this way than she would if we tried to carve out time in our busy lives specifically for teaching her to drive. That doesn’t mean that we won’t need to go out to intentionally practice specific skills, such as parallel parking. Most of her education will occur in the course of our daily activities, and a few specific skills will be intentionally taught. Because my daughter is a girl who likes to know how things will happen, we discussed this learning strategy, the reasons behind it, and how I many other skills she has learned in the same manner. She learned to read by following along as I read to her. She learned to cook by baking with her grandmother.

As I thought about how I teach, I realized that I use the same strategies in relationships with others. I rarely go out with ¬†a friend just to go out. When I want or need to do something, I will see if someone wants to come along. When I know I will be at the park for an hour waiting for a child to finish an activity, I try to find a friend to come with me. We visit while we enjoy a walk in the park. A trip to the grocery store can become an hour spent alone with my husband. The conversations we have while doing something are different than the ones we have across the table in a restaurant or coffee shop. Specifically planned dates are important as well, but I much prefer “Come along with me” moments. To bring people into your life and invite them to do what you love shows them that you want to be with them. When someone allows me into their space, into what they love with them, makes me feel more special and loved than when they take time away from their lives to be with me.

My spiritual life benefits from this philosophy as well. I try to bring my God with me wherever I go. I don’t spend time every day specifically praying or reading my Bible to hear what God wants from me. I see His glory around me as I drive into the sun. I thank Him for His protection as I cross the street. And I know how He wants me to live and respond to different situations because of the times that I do specifically sit down to learn about Him.

My life is not perfect. I don’t take enough time to concentrate specifically on my children or my husband. I have few friends. And I have to consciously make time for my parents, who find it more difficult to “Come along with me”. I think the principle is sound and encourage everyone to bring someone else along as much as possible to share their love and perhaps pass on a lesson at the same time.

Lists and Plans

I have been putting things in order in lists or as long as I have been able to write. That I had the gift of project management became very apparent the summer I was 10. I plotted the family trip halfway across Canada (7 days driving). Every highway, camping site, lunch spot, and rest stop was marked on the map. Consideration was given to the shortest, fastest, most scenic, and the convenience of rest stops and lunch possibilities. I calculated gas consumption and costs, food allowances, and camping costs. And we followed my plans almost exactly!

Since then, I have concentrated on a career in Medical Laboratory Technology. When the opportunity was presented to help write policies and procedures, I jumped at the chance. I discovered that there is nothing more satisfying for me than to take information and put it into a format that is easy to follow. So I began to supplement my education with Technical Communication courses. I am currently only one courses from finishing the certificate.

While continuing to work as a Medical Technologist Supervisor, I am pursuing opportunities in technical writing. My experience has included proofreading fiction, non-fiction, and academic papers. I write web content for a chemistry laboratory. I have also discovered that the ability to read cursive writing is becoming a lost art, and I find my skills used to transcribe documents from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

There are many directions to take technical writing and project management and I am looking forward to the variety.

Push by Permission

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I recently did a zip line tour in the hill canopies of Southern Montana. I didn’t do it because it is something that I have always wanted to do. I didn’t do it because I like moving quickly through the treetops. I did it because we were on a family vacation and the rest of the family was super excited about the opportunity. I was pretty sure this was a safe activity, so I decided to go with them.

The first thing the guides told us – even before they hooked us to a line strung across the sky at told us to let go of the pole and let the harness hold the weight – was that they had a “push by permission” policy. This means that if you get up on the platform and are having trouble convincing yourself to let go, they give you a gentle push to start you on your way. They don’t need to ask you for permission on the platform, because you give permission by coming on the tour.

We should have a push by permission policy in more areas of our lives How many times have you wanted to do something, go somewhere, or say something but just didn’t quite have the guts? What if there had been someone there – someone you trust – that had a push by permission policy? Someone who would have given you the little nudge that you needed to do, go, or say what you wanted to.

What does a Push by Permission policy look like?

First, you need to trust the person you are giving permission to push.. Lots of people are willing to push us in many directions, but they usually push in the direction they want to go, not the one that you want to go. A friend, a spouse, a lover, or a soulmate. You should have someone in your life that you trust to put their desires aside and do what is best for you.

Second, you need to let the person know that you trust them. You may not need to say the words “I trust you to give me a gentle push when I need it”, but it may not be a bad idea. There is much communication that happens without words, especially in a close relationship, but sometimes saying the words reinforces the message.

Third, you may have different people in different areas of your life whom you trust to give you a push. Doing what you want to do in your career may involve different people than those that will influence growth in your personal life. The more close friendships we have, the richer our lives are.

There are relationships that should intrinsically have the building blocks to develop this kind of trust. Family relationships – between spouses, siblings, or parent to child – are great places to find someone who can guide you to what is best for you. This family-type relationship may not come from your actual family. We have people who “is like a sister” to me.

What are the benefits of a Push by Permission policy?

Having a trusted friend is a benefit in itself. According to the Mayo Clinic (and many other sources) having good friends improves your life and your health. Good friends increase happiness, reduce stress, and are good for your heart. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/friendships/art-20044860?pg=1

Stepping a little way outside your comfort zone gives you confidence. It makes it easier to do face new things and adjust to changes in your life. Stretching your experiences is much like exercising your body. In the same way that your  muscles get stronger when you use them, your creativity and adaptability grow when you challenge yourself.

For Christians, living as we should is often outside of our comfort zone. Mark 16:15 sates “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.'” Fortunately, we also have the family of Christians to help us and give us a gentle push in the right direction. 1 Thessalonians 5: 11 gives us the instructions “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Look around and see where you have friends, family, coworkers, or acquaintances to whom you can give permission to give you a gentle push in the direction you know you should be going.

The Glory of the Lord

Isaiah 45:4 “I bestow on you a title of honour, though you do not acknowledge me. I am the Lord.”

The Lord says that He will bring glory to Himself by using the people on earth, even if they do not acknowledge Him. God will use what He made to glorify Himself. You cannot help but see the glory of God if you just look for it. That’s all you have to do – look for it, because He is using what He made. Look around you and see the glory of God.

Dear God,

Thank you that You make Your power evident, even when we don’t acknowledge You. Even when we try to take the credit, You make it evident that it is Your power, not ours that allows us to do things. Thank you, God, that you continue to demonstrate Your power in my world.

The triathlon of Life

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Why is it that I can look after my body or my soul or my brain, but not all 3? I can exercise regularly, but then I don’t pray or study. I can pray, but leave out exercise and study. And when I study, everything else falls by the wayside. Developing all three areas creates a balanced person.
Even with triathlon training, I tend to focus on one sport at a time. In summer, I run more. In winter I swim more. And sometimes I bike. But even then, I focus more on running than anything else. It is not until the race is imminent that I really work on putting everything together.
So when will I need all of my life skills? What is the deadline for putting it all together? There is no way to tell. Life is not a one time race that we can train for. Life must be lived daily with as much balance as we can manage.
It is time to work on my balance.

It Doesn’t Take That Much

I was surprised at how little it took to maintain my level of fitness.
Just over a year ago, I ran my first 5km race. I trained diligently all winter – running and swimming at least twice a week. Then I continued to work to get ready for my first triathlon. Even after those races were done, I enjoyed the feeling of being able to move, so I kept running and biking all summer.
But then winter came. The coldest winter on record in part of the country. Family activities took over many evenings and exercising¬† became onerous. So I “fit it in” by taking the stairs as often as possible and doing 10 may mute strength workouts with my daughter.
Spring came late with many cold, rainy days and multiple respiratory viruses. Running training has been slow. I got out 3 times.
Three days ago, I ran another 5km race. My time was very close to last year’s time. How is that even possible? Climbing stairs seems to have been more effective than I imagined!
Last year at about this time, I did my first triathlon. This event comes up again in 33 weeks. Is that enough time to get in a reasonable shape to try it again?
I will try an open water swim in a few days and then decide.

Do not boast about Tomorrow

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” Proverbs 27:1
This says to me that I must live each day, each moment for itself. Don’t get caught up on planning for the future, right now is what is important. When I am sitting with my children, I should be listening to them. I shouldn’t be writing my next blog post in my head. I shouldn’t be planning supper. I shouldn’t be wondering how the traffic will be in an hour when I have to pick someone up from some activity. I should be right there – listening.
Later on in the chapter it says “Be sure to know the condition of your flocks, for riches do not endure forever.” (Verse 23) So those other things are important, too. They all need to be done. This says to me that I must take care of what I have been given. Don’t waste things through neglect. Don’t ignore the maintenance required to keep things working for another day.
The question becomes how do I maintain a balance between living for today and maintaining my flocks for tomorrow? What are the important things in my life that I must maintain, and when is it important to be right here, in this moment?
Relationships are the most important to God, and therefore the most important to me. My relationship with God cannot wait until the dishes are washed and the floors are swept. My relationship with others is more important than preparations for tomorrow.
I need to work on that. I need to work on being with the people who I am with. While that may sound strange, we all know what takes us away from being fully with the people around us. TV, smart phones, text messages, the project that needs finishing. There are endless places our minds can go while we pretend to listen. I want to make a difference in someone’s life today. Not only today, but every day. But I will start with today.
Live for today. Make a difference today. Build on a relationship today.

Dear God,
Thank you for today. Thank you that you have given me another day to spend with the people you have given me in my life. Thank you that you have given me another day to enjoy the world that you created. Help me to live today for today, and not for tomorrow.
Amen

Clarity in the Storm

Snowstorm
It was to have been a special day. Mom was home from work and the kids were home from school. We should do something special.
Let’s go tobogganing. At camp. It’s only 1.5 hours drive away and they have a super-fantastic hill.
Winter in Manitoba had been wicked so far. -40*C to -50*C wind-chill (or feels like temperatures) for almost an entire month. Friday was to be warmer. Only -12, feels like -20. It seemed perfect. Unfortunately, with the warming temperatures came snow.
“Mom, We need to leave at 12:30 so we can get there as soon as it opens.”
“I don’t know. There is a winter storm warning. The highway could have very little visibility.”
“But it’s not snowing that hard. It looks fine.”
So I contacted some people who live outside of the city to see what they thought of the road conditions. News reports and weather updates are guidelines. What were the roads that I wanted to drive like?
“It doesn’t look bad right now.” I heard from 2 different sources. “But we don’t know what the afternoon and evening will bring.”
I really wanted to go. I really wanted to make this day special. It was the last day of the winter break from school and I’d had very little time with them. I couldn’t make myself believe the weather forecasts.
At 12:28 the phone rang. It was my mom.
“Dad has locked his keys in the car at the grocery store, and the phone to OnStar is busy. Can you pick up the extra keys and take them to him?”
Glad that I was still home to help, my decision was now made. If OnStar was so busy with people in trouble, there was no way I was heading out anywhere.
Thank you God, for making my choice clear, in the midst of the storm.

photo by Shirley Bergen

Today is Music Day

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“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
Come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.”
Psalm 100

“I will sing of your love and justice.
To You, O Lord I will sing praise.”
Psalm 101

I cannot say it better.
Happy Music Day everyone.

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