2015

Dog Gone
June 8, 2015

It was pouring rain again today when I got up and had to walk my dog. If you own a dog, you know that no matter
what the weather is doing outside, you have to go out there so your dog can relieve him or herself.

So as we walked along the concrete drainage ditch near where I live, I was alarmed when my dog plunged down the
side of the steep 45-degree angle culvert to chase a Dr Pepper can that was rushing by in the raging current of
water. I screamed and screamed for him to stop. He got all the way to the bottom then screeched to a halt just as
his feet hit the water. Then I was screaming for him to get out of there.

All I could think as he plunged down the side was that he’s going to get caught up in the swift current and get
washed away. And I would have to go get him.

I knew I couldn’t get down that steep culvert without slipping and falling into the water myself. And how would I get to
him. Or get him out.

When he got back up to where I was, I was furious. I wanted to tell him what a rotten dog he was for scaring me like
that. And how I would punish him for the rest of his life by never letting him off the leash again. That would teach
him, I thought. I’ll take away his freedom forever…

Then I suddenly understood how God must feel about us sometimes when we’re disobedient because our
disobedience can have dire consequences. And not just for us, but for others around us who care about us. I
understood that when we run after something bobbing along in a raging current (sin) that we risk curtailing our
freedom too. That we can also pay dearly for a single moment of disobedience. A single angry outburst can cause
us to lose a friendship, get fired from our job, put us in jail, or cost us our life if we say it to the wrong person.

It isn’t worth it to ignore God’s voice warning us to “stop.” Is God warning you about a dangerous situation today?
Will you take heed?

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Fill That Empty Space
May 11, 2015

We had a lot of rain the last few days and it literally created a lake where no lake existed before. What used to be
an empty field is now a beautiful lake. A lake already is teeming with life. The water birds and ducks have staked it
as their own. I was surprised how quickly they came, as if it had always been there. They didn’t wait for other
animals to approve it; they flew in and started enjoying it. The lake will probably dry up and disappear once the hot
Texas summer returns, but until then the ducks are enjoying it.

I’ve been working on accepting life as just the day we have today. It’s been hard. I’ve always been a “what if” kind of
person, who plans meticulously for any eventuality that might come. I don’t like being caught off-guard with
problems because they make extra work for me. I plan for the good, bad and everything in between. I get accused
of being “negative” because I plan for anything that could possibly go wrong but it allows me to already have a
solution before something unexpected happens. This plan-for-the-worst-but-expect-the-best philosophy served me
well in my former career where things often didn’t go as planned.

But over the years I’ve started worrying rather than planning for the unexpected. There’s a definite difference.
Planning means you have solutions to fall back on “if” the unexpected happens. Worrying means that you expend a
great deal of effort thinking a lot about something that might happen without making a plan to deal with it. It’s fear
based, whereas planning is not.

When I saw that new lake I didn’t rush off to stay on schedule, I watched the birds enjoy their lake. And when I was
done there, I walked over to the playground and noticed the swings were empty. I thought someone should fill that
empty space on the swing and enjoy it. So I did. And the only unexpected thing that happened today was I had a
great morning!
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Dogs and Bullies
April 13, 2015

I had a conversation recently with a teenage girl who was being bullied. As part of a writing exercise, I asked her to
give advice to a little boy in a photograph who was obviously in a situation where he would attract unwanted
attention. He had a toilet seat around his neck. I was struck by how much her advice sounded like it came from a
teacher who had no experience with bullies. It was not exactly the kind of advice a bullied teenager would give when
she hated herself for being “different.” What she really needed was practical advice to deal with the things she was
experiencing, not theories on human behavior.

What struck me later is that we deal with a human bully the same way we deal with an aggressive dog. You stand
your ground and you don’t make any sudden moves, because to move shows fear. You don’t run because a dog
will chase you down, well, like a dog. It’s instinctual. They do certain things because it is in their nature. Dogs aren’t
born aggressive anymore than people are born to be bullies. It’s learned behavior.

The key to getting an aggressive dog to back down is not to hold eye contact. You don’t approach a dog but you
also don’t run from it. To run shows weakness. A dog will assume you are weaker and will switch it’s view of you to
prey. Dogs chase prey with the ultimate goal of devouring it. When you stand your ground, a dog is unsure of
whether you are weaker or stronger. Most dogs will circle you and eye you to assess whether you are prey or
predator. You watch them without making direct eye contact until the dog tires of you and leaves.

Human bullies act in a similar manner. They test you to see if you are prey or predator. Most of them do this by
coming into your personal space (getting too close) or by physically dominating you with strong eye contact. If you
use the same technique of waiting without making direct eye contact, most bullies will eventually leave.

Note: This post was not talking about “bullies” who use fists or weapons. They aren’t bullies; they’re criminals.

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Flood of Ideas
March 9, 2015

Today it was pouring. I’m not talking about raining, I’m talking about raining so hard there is no light between the
raindrops, that kind of pouring. By the end of the day, there was nearly 5 inches of rainfall. It’s the kind of rain
where the streets flood, creeks and streams overflow, and people get trapped in their vehicles and have to be
rescued. It’s the kind of rain you remember for years to come if you were in the middle of it, but not if you were
sitting in your house safe from its effects.

Ideas are like floods too. If you’re in the middle of an idea, you will remember it for years. It will change the course of
your life. It will cut a new channel in your life and re-route your thought processes or total reshape your behavior. It
will wash away the debris that was blocking your flow and it will clean your life out of things that were in the way.

And just like the aftermath of floodwaters, ideas can leave devastation particularly if everything you thought you
knew to be “truth” has been destroyed and you find that you have to rebuild. With time, great ideas will have you
looking back at what you used to have, where you used to be and what you used to think was important, and asking
yourself, “How could I have thought that was what I really wanted?”

Be open to new ideas. Whether the idea involves a new thought process about an old habit, a new way of doing
something, or even an old way of doing something that would work better than a “new” way.

I often encounter people who are so focused on trying out new ways that they overlook the tried and true ways from
the past. One of those ideas is the idea of “putting in your time.” Young people coming out of college often think
that their skills in the latest technology have prepared them for leadership. Hard skills don’t translate well into soft
skills like managing people.

Be willing to put in the time to learn from those who went before you. Watch the way they lead, and learn to follow
them. A tried and true way to succeed is to be a follower first, and allow your leader to advance you, rather than
trying to lead before you have followed.

How can you teach others to follow your lead if you don’t know how a follower thinks, acts and behaves? Without
the ability to understand how to rally a team of followers to work for you, you will fail as a leader.

You must play the game before you can coach others in the game. So today stand out in the pouring rain of ideas
from those older than you, wiser than you, smarter than you, more successful than you, in order to become the
best of everything they have to offer. Be willing to put in your time in the pouring rain, and maybe even be a little
uncomfortable before you put up the umbrella of the boss.

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Who’s Popcorn is Burning?
February 9, 2015

Nothing smells as delicious as popcorn popping. Even if you don’t crave popcorn, or like me, do not really even like
it all that much, you suddenly want some of it. But when popcorn is overcooked, it burns. It smells terrible. Pungent,
foul and downright distasteful. How can something go from being so appealing to so disagreeable in literally a
matter of seconds.

If you work in an office you know the smell well. Someone is always burning popcorn because they assume the time
required to cook popcorn at the office is the same as it is in their microwave at home. They don’t adjust for the
major change factor – the microwave.

We are like that with our careers and lives. So often we walk through life on auto-pilot totally oblivious to the things
and people who are changing around us. We ignore the obvious signs that our relationships are falling apart until
they are beyond repair. We ignore the handwriting on the wall that our company is failing to thrive until they lay us
off. We ignore small health issues until they reach a critical point that means making an emergency room visit in the
middle of the night. We ignore our children’s struggles in school until they fail and have to be held back a year.

Our lives are just like popcorn in the microwave. Sometimes it's a matter of degrees is the problem and other times
it's about timing.

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Feng Shui Down the Toilet
January 26, 2015

A woman I know had relatives visiting from Australia. These people are quite different than anyone I’ve ever met. I’m
not sure if it’s because they are Australian or are just weirdoes.

The woman, whom I’ll call Sheila, because that’s what Australians call girls, mentioned that she and her husband
have totally changed the way they live after discovering Feng Shui. Totally changed the way they live.

If you aren’t familiar with Feng Shui, it’s an eastern practice of arranging things in your home or workplace to
maximize your luck and good energy. As a Christian, I believe this is junk “science” because there is no such thing
as “luck” when you believe God controls everything. God ultimately leads us to the fulfillment of His plan. We call it
“good” luck when we get something from God that lines up with what we want, instead of praising God for providing
it.

I also believe “luck” is the result of doing the hard work that comes just before you get “lucky” and succeed. I don’t
know a single person who worked hard for years who didn’t become an “overnight” success at some point.
Conversely, those who are lazy never seem to get their “lucky” break. That’s not luck, that’s just common sense.

Back to the Feng Shui…

Sheila explained that she and her husband now shut the toilet lid and the bathroom door to keep their “good luck”
from going down the toilet. It was hard not to laugh at how absurd that sounded. In my house it isn’t “good luck” that
goes down my toilet, it’s something entirely different!

I thought about how the enemy (Satan) has devised all sorts of things to keep us trapped in pointless rituals and
wrong thinking so that we can’t achieve the things that God has planned for us. When you stress over the
placement of pictures, furniture, plants and rugs, and worry about whether your luck goes down the toilet every time
you flush, you become very paranoid indeed. When the enemy distracts us into worrying about superstitions like
black cats crossing our paths, seven years of bad luck for breaking mirrors, and other things that suck your energy
and time, we cannot be what God called us to be.

So today, I want you to take stock of things you worry about and decide to release them all to God. Let God worry
about them, not you. Letting go of all that will give you so much more free time to do something you really want to
do with your life.

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Like Fleas on a Dog
January 12, 2015

This morning I watched my dog twist and struggle to reach the fleas that were biting the area just above his tail. I
live in a warm climate so fleas, mosquitoes and gnats hang on well into December. I tried to spray more flea spray
on my dog’s belly and rear end to make him less of a flea target, but he ran away.

He ran and hid under the sofa. He saw the spray bottle and ran. As I got down on my belly and inched toward him,
he tried to pull further under the sofa but couldn’t because of his size. I grabbed one leg and lifted it so I could blast
his belly. Then I rearranged him so I could give his rear end a shot or two. Then I withdrew to wash my hands.

Moments later, my dog emerged from under the sofa and came trotting over to me with his tail wagging. “Ah,
thanks,” he seemed to be saying, “much better.”

Then God reminded me how I’m just like my dog. I run from Him when He is trying to do something that will help me.
God somehow manages to get that good thing to me anyway. But it’s a struggle sometimes, so I don’t get the full
measure of what God has for me because I’m fighting Him.

The feeling of “what-is-wrong-with-me” was overwhelming for a brief moment until God reminded me that His ways
are not our ways. That He doesn’t always give us what we think we need, the way we think we should have it,
because He has a better way.

My dog would have been content for me to scratch the itch, because that was his immediate need; he didn’t know
that I had the power (through the flea spray) to stop the itch permanently.

We are like that too. When we cry out to God to help us, He comes with the flea spray (answer), but all we see is
something that is going to make us wet, smell weird and require our fur to be ruffled (i.e., it will make us temporarily
uncomfortable), so we run and hide.

God still gives us what we were praying for. We just don’t get the full measure of it. So, just like with a dog, if we don’
t take the full measure God has for us, in a short time our lives will begin to itch and irritate us again. We’ll cry out to
God again and wonder why He won’t help us.

This time when you ask God to help you, surrender completely to Him and let Him have it all. Throw yourself on the
floor (get on your knees), roll over (hands up in surrender) and give God your unprotected belly (pour out your
heart to Him) so He can get rid of those fleas (problems) once and for all.




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