Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How You Play the Game

As a child, I was so extremely competitive, losing was never an option. On the basketball courts, to the kitchen table playing Uno, I was a terrible "loser." In fact, it was during a card game at home I coined the phrase, "There's no such thing as cheating, just creative ways of winning." I know, not my best moment. This must win mentality became a great asset for me when it came to sports. AND sports became a great lesson for me and my character.

I learned, through the years, that there are 2 Unhealthy Approaches to dealing with Problems (whether its with circumstances, people, etc...). Consider each as you face the challenges in your life. They are actually Inadequate Attempts to gain control. Make sure you read through to the application at the end.

: In most games I avoided being put in positions where I couldn't win. For instance, I avoided getting involved in a "Word" game (i.e., Boggle, Scrabble) with my sister. Why?... I didn't want to Lose... especially to my sister :). Avoidance is one approach many people take in adulthood. If someone upsets us, we leave. If our boss is a jerk, we quit. The remedy to Avoidance: Embrace Uncertainty. Realize that people, businesses, organizations, governments, and self are not perfect. Results cannot be guaranteed, and we don't always get our way.

Aggression: All you have to do is play "Pictionary" with married couples to see an example of this. When a team or couple gets stuck on a word, it can be so tempting yell at the other person. If you're drawing, you can't understand why the other person can't get it. If you're guessing, you wonder how the person graduated 1st grade Art. So... we lash-out!

While Pictionary is a silly example, the same principle applies to the rest of life. We lash-out against those whom we feel are responsible for our problems. The place to begin is to always own-up-to our responsibility to the problem. Jesus told us to remove the "Beam" from our own eye first, before "helping" the other person with their "speck of dust." However, if or when we prayerfully confront, instead of being agressive, the remedy is to be Appropriately Assertive. Let the other person know what you need or expect. We can't control the other person, but we are to control ourselves. (BTW, Self-Control is a fruit of the Spirit).

One phrase I hated to hear during my competitive years in basketball was, "Its not whether you win or lose, but it's HOW YOU PLAYED THE GAME." While those words still have trouble find their way through my teeth, there's much wisdom when applying them to the challenges life brings. Don't allow the insecurities, frustrations, or anything else affect how you "play the game." WHY? Because it is how you play that reflects your character and is seen by the Lord. PLAY WELL!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Summer-Time Closeout

It seems that every summer comes to a close too quickly. The time flies by, many of the things we had hoped to do are still undone, and all the relaxing that was in the "schedule" never happened. We are left asking ourselves the age-old question, "What happened to Summer?"

If you're left scratching your head, asking yourself that question, I've got 5 Summer-time Closeouts, that may help you redeem the last weeks of this season:

1. JUMP IN A PUDDLE: Since confession is good for the soul, I must confess that at times, I take life too seriously. However, I had one of those God moments (the ones where he gently slaps you upside your head, but it actually feels good) with my 3 year old daughter. It was raining outside, I was watching TV, and my daughter walks in with her knee-high rain boots, her rain coat, and an over-sized hat. She grabbed my hand and said, "Daddy, let's go jump in some puddles." Nothing refreshes you like seeing the world through the eyes of a child. Sooooo.... we jumped in some puddles together. Did I feel Silly? Oh Yeah! Did I have some fun, YOU BETCHA!!! Too Much Fun!

2. LEMONADE: The simplest, and most inexpensive way, to enjoy a "taste" of summer, is to make a pitcher or lemonade one evening, add some ice, then proceed to your porch/front-steps/deck or any place outside the house and SIP! As you sit on your steps or lawn chair, see how long that 1 glass of lemonade can last you. Oh Yeah, don't forget to smile and wave at those who may be walking on the side walk. Trust me, you've got to try it!

3. THE PARK: We have such a variety of parks in these Northern Philadelphia Suburbs. Pick one that you're familiar with, and walk at a leisurely pace, noticing the trees, listening to the kids play. If you're really adventurous, test your self on those Monkey Bars. WARNING, it's much safer if your feet can touch the ground :).

4. DAY TRIP: Since everyone's idea of fun is so different, you'll need to fill in the blanks. Whether it's the beach, camping, fishing, or window shopping at King of Prussia, choose a place, pack the day before, and head out with the family following your morning coffee and breakfast. Recently my wife and I grabbed a cup of coffee, and sat on the Art Museum steps watching the water fall. Now that was nice.

5. DELIVERY: My final Closeout includes making a delivery. Without warning, bake (or buy for the cooking challenged) some cookies, or a cake; show up at someone's home unannounced and deliver some "sanctified" junk food. Ask the Lord who needs it (the blessin', not the junk food), allow Him to direct you, and bless someone good. Proverbs 11:25 says, "The generous will prosper;those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed."

I hope one or more of these suggestions will help you enjoy your summer on a budget any of us can handle. It just goes to show you, one doesn't need money to be happy.