Getting the Big Rocks into the Right Place

One day I was running an errand when, to my surprise and delight, I saw an eagle flying low, circling overhead. It was an awesome sight to see that eagle’s spread out wings. I would have missed it, if it hadn’t been for a couple out walking, who paused to look overhead. I stopped to see what they were so engrossed in. To my amazement, there was a majestic bald eagle hovering over the neighborhood. I started to think of what else I’d been missing of beauty, in the busy days I live. What gifts of joy and laughter, beauty, friendship, love and peace would have been mine, if I had simply paused to look and see around me?

I used to have on my desk a jar of stones which were there in part because of the following story, by an anonymous author.

  “A man stood in front of the group of high-powered over-achievers, announcing that it was time for a quiz. He pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.  When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this Jar full?

Everyone in the class said, “Yes”. He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel, pouring the gravel in and shaking the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.  Once more, he asked the group if the jar was full. By then they had figured out that more could be packed into the jar, and sure enough it wasn’t long before the man added sand, then water to the jar.

After demonstrating how much could fit in the jar, he asked his seminar attenders what the point of his illustration was. One of the group answered immediately, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it.”

“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

I find that I need to keep relearning the same lessons. I need to  remember to set my priorities and put first what really needs to be first in my life. I need to be reminded to make room for what is  important.     Fortunately, God is patiently waiting, when we forget . . . waiting for us to get the big rocks into their proper place.

What are You Feeding Your Soul ?

Everywhere I went people asked about our presidential election, during my recent trip to Vancouver BC.   I quickly discovered that Canadians are anxious for us to make a good decision.  I can’t remember an election that has troubled me more than this one.  There are so many things I could say about the appalling spectacle we’ve been subjected to, it is difficult to begin.    Civility has been discarded for innuendo.  Lies for truth.   Arrogance for honesty.   Books have been written, which tell false tales.    Debates are billed as if they were  wrestling matches.   Among true followers, violence has at times been encouraged.    With the degree of rancor, anger and  resentment that has been fueled,  I fear for all of us after the election.   I wonder  how that will spill over for the losing side.      Will  we remember that another election is coming four years from now?  Or will those on the losing side decide violence is the answer?   Who are we really as a people? What is it that we are feeding out souls?

There is a story of an old Cherokee who was teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – it is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.  The other is good – it is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

To which the old Cherokee wisely replied,”The one you feed.”

We become that which we spend our lives dwelling on. If we feed our souls hurt and pain, we grow angry. If we feed on self-pity, we become convinced that we alone suffer. If we feed  resentment, it grows into hate. But, it is also true that when we choose to focus our thoughts on the good in our lives, we began to see that good in many places. If we feed on compassion, we become more compassionate. If we feed on joy, our hearts grow lighter and more thankful for the blessings which God continues to give us, day by day.  If we open our hearts to wisdom we can begin to see anther’s point of view.

The scripture puts it another way, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

What is it that you’re feeding your soul today?

Sometimes, the Answers We Need are Already Within Our Grasp

The Hertz 800 emergency number fell out of my purse four weeks late. I needed it back in Crescent City CA where my rental car refused to start. I had an almost new Volkswagen Jetta that should have been the perfect car. But from the beginning the steering column locked which made it difficult to turn the key. I once had a car like that, so I figured I could handle this. On my third day of vacation, I drove to a Safeway store to pick up a couple of items, leaving all my rental car information at the hotel. In the store parking lot, I discovered the steering column was locked tight on the car. No matter how much I jiggled the steering wheel or the key, I simply could not get the key to turn over.

So there I was in the Safeway Customer Service counter, calling Volkswagen – the only number I did have. They offered to help me out if I would just stay on the phone, go to my car and try a few things. But, that would mean my Virgin Mobile phone worked in Crescent City CA, which it did not. Given the problem, their next solution would be to tow the car one hundred and ten miles to their nearest dealership, in the opposite direction I was traveling. I’d already tried the local Hertz Rental agency which was closed. I still had Triple A though. They promised to have someone there within ninety minutes. As I talked with the Triple A contact, I did get the 800 emergency number for Hertz.

That night, the rental car company was staffed by a kind and helpful man. He told me how to unlock the steering column, by pressing the brake to the floorboard. And wonders of wonders, it worked. That would be two hours after I discovered I couldn’t turn the key in my beautiful blue Jetta. A couple of days ago, my purse tipped over. Cards spilled out of pockets. One of them was a Triple A card I’d tucked into my purse before heading out on vacation. On the card was the Hertz Rental Car emergency 800 number.

Sometimes, the answers we are looking for are already within our grasp. We may simply need to dig a little deeper inside ourselves, or spend time with a trusted friend. The answers may surprise us as we journal about our concerns and our fears. A solution might appear in our reading of scripture or in the words of a familiar song. It may simply be that we are at a place where we need to take those first steps we already know we need to take.

God has as many ways of guiding us as there are people on this earth. Look around today. Where have you felt God nudging you to explore, risk or dare? Who in your life are you feeling a need to reach out to? What problems are burdening your heart and who have you thought of trusting them with? God leads a single step at a time. Is it time for you to take that step in front of you?

Even though I didn’t find the card the day I needed it, I was blessed by a young woman at the customer service desk at the Safeway store who showed extreme patience with me . . . while I used her phone for most of two hours. The Triple A service truck arrived just as I was ready to leave. Turning the car off for a moment, once more, the steering column locked solid. I needed the Triple A driver to get it started that time. In the morning I traded the Jetta for a more seasoned Honda. The next thousand miles went without a hitch.

Life’s Little Bumps – Sometimes the Story is Enough

img_9561We were having a supper time meeting and it was my job to order the Pizza. Armed with a coupon for bread sticks, and two large, two topping pizzas I made my call. Very quickly, it became obvious that this would not be just any ordering experience. The young man asked – “Do you want hand tossed or thin crust?”

I answered “Thin.”

He asked “What do you want on your hand tossed one?”

“I asked for thin crust” I said.

“Ok, Ok,” he mumbled “What do you want on your thin pizza?”

“Pepperoni and mushrooms” I ordered.

“Then, what do you want on your hand-tossed pizza?” He asked.

“That was a thin crust pizza.” I said.

Again, he asked, “What do you want on your hand tossed one?”

Once more, I said, louder. “I asked for two thin crust pizzas.”

In the background I could hear my customer service care rep ask his manager, “How do I cancel out this order and put in Deep Dish instead?”

“Now,” he said, “What do you want on your first Deep Dish pizza?”

“That was thin crust. I ordered two thin crust pizzas,” I spelled, “T . . . H . . . I . . . N.”

“Oh.” He said, Then asked “And what was it you said you wanted on your first pizza?”

Once more, I gave my Pepperoni and Mushrooms order. He asked for the second pizza. “Canadian bacon and Pineapple” I said.

Going over the order once more for me, he quoted, “That’s pepp ………….and rooms on the 1st and bacon on the 2nd.”

“You said pepperoni and mushrooms on the 1st – right?” I asked.

“Yes” he answered.

“But it’s Canadian bacon and Pineapple on the second,” I reminded him, with an emphasis on Pineapple.

I arranged for delivery at a quarter to seven . . . 6:45 came and went. At 7:15, I called the pizza shop, asking why our pizza was so late.

A different clerk found my order. “We have a hold on that. It’s not supposed to be delivered till 7:45.” After telling her when I asked for it to be delivered, I could hear her give orders to start our pizza cooking. My call ended with an apology, along with a couple of dollars off the pizza.

Just short of 7:45 two boxes of pizza arrived. As I opened the first box, mushrooms smiled up at me. But where was the pepperoni? Warily opening the 2nd, I found bacon on the pizza – it may or may not have been Canadian. There was no pineapple in sight.

You don’t always get what you order in life. Sometimes, instead of pepperoni you get a hearty laugh and the good feeling which comes when you look at life’s little bumps and know that you’re bigger than they. Sometimes, you get to laugh at yourself and wonder why little things have seemed so important. Sometimes, the story is enough.