Thoughts for the New Year~

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Life can be so busy, right?  We run here and there getting through our list of tasks each day with barely a margin to catch our breath. At least I have found myself in this situation more often than I care to admit!

This year, while considering a meaningful New Years Resolution, I felt impressed to make a concerted effort to slow down, acknowledging and appreciating those who serve my life in so many ways:  Airline stewardesses, waiters, retail clerks, grocery baggers, gas station attendants, etc.

I have learned some interesting things in the process:

1.  It takes extra time and intentionality to slow down enough to look someone in the eye and ask how they are doing.

2.  People rarely hear a “thank you” in service work and are really taken aback ( in a good way) when they receive an expression of appreciation.

3.  It takes courage to be intentional and express appreciation.  Even when I feel grateful I might not verbally express it.  I get a little nervous, to be honest.

4.  When people feel you are sincere in asking about them, they will open up in really surprising ways.  In doing so I have learned so many stories of those with whom I have interacted. Really special.

5.  Once appreciation has been expressed, the interaction takes on a whole new feeling when we see one another again. 🙂

I have worked in the service industry in my life and know how it feels when my days were full of grumpy, busy, or entitled people.  It’s tough.

How about we all slow down a little bit in the coming year and encourage those who serve us in so many ways. How about we express our appreciation in creative and kind ways.  It’s amazing what we can learn about people, and ourselves!

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Even the best laid plans…………………

I love the leaders I serve, so when one of them invites me to join them in an event that’s meaningful to them and those they love~~ well, I’m IN!  Last week was one of those times!  Thursday I was up early, packed and ready to fly to Dallas, TX to be a part of a wonderful Christmas event in an amazing church in Keller, TX.

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Weather reports showed that there “would be” a change in the weather; it would be cold. I was disappointed but knew I would be so involved with my leader and her event that I wouldn’t really notice that the weather had turned cold.  Then… the ICY SLEET fell upon the state of Texas and everything changed.  The moment the plane touched down in Texas I received a text letting me know that the event I was planning to attend was cancelled.

Hmmmm…….Lord, I have flown all the way here….You know everything……..Help me know your purposes in my stay here.

From my hotel window I watched car after car spin and crash into guardrails and other cars, heard the warnings from newscasters to just stay OFF the roads, and the continuing announcements that almost every flight out of Dallas was cancelled and would be cancelled for some time.

Lord, I am all by myself here. I wanted to be a blessing but now feel like I am a burden~~ah, the best laid plans!

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Life throws us lots of twists and turns doesn’t it? Weather, finances, health, even relationships have elements that we simply cannot always control! Finding value, even in the challenge, is a choice we can make.

Let me be totally honest; there were moments this week when the tears were flowing at the thought that getting home would be nearly impossible, moments where I tried to make sense of the fact that I was sitting alone in a lovely hotel without a purpose to my stay….

However, amidst all the hysterics of roads and flights; I was able to get home at midnight last night! 🙂

This makes me wonder about God’s view of things;  was the unplanned conversation I had with a woman who had just lost her son to cancer meaningful?  Was spending time with a precious couple new to my church/community on the plane worth being stranded?  How about the young man who forged his way in the sleet to open the BUCKLE store he managed? we had a long conversation about his journey to find his faith in Christ; his father was a pastor? Did that conversation matter in God’s view of things?

In my desire to catch my 3:30 flight home out of Dallas, I went to the airport around 9:30…….Just to be diligent.  I had a 5 hour wait and needed to power up my phone a couple of times. One of those times there was a man sitting next to me who had been trying to get home for 3 days! He had waited hours and hours before being told his flight was cancelled.  Needless to say –He was tired. Sitting there he began talking about his family; especially his oldest daughter whose choices caused him heartache. Our conversation was meaningful and emotional for him.  Sadly – his flight was again cancelled, so I said that I thought we ought to go to my ticket counter and see if he could get on my flight! Amazingly, the airline employee smiled at him and said “I just had a cancellation, you can take that seat!”  He smiled at me and said to me ” you are either magic or blessed!” I told him blessed.  He was home that night!  Hmmmmm……..In God’s view of things, was that man important enough for there to be value in my “stranded” experience?

How about a surprise encounter with two people with whom I have not had reconciliation for a few years showing up for the same flight as me; getting a chance to talk, to show kindness?  Then the lovely older gentleman who was seated to my left on the final leg of my flight. Just a few years ago he had to file bankruptcy as he was a developer in our area when the market hit bottom; he spent a lot of time talking through his sadness about 3 of his colleagues who committed suicide due to feeling hopeless during that season in the economy. We we got off the plane he introduced me as his “new best friend” to his colleague!

Were these conversations of high trust God ordained or just a chance happening?  No, I can’t answer that…I’m asking you; the reader, what you think?  I am still pondering the possibilities…..sometimes I just wonder about those best laid plans…………………!

Psalm 139:16 says “All your days ordained for me are written in your book before one of them came to be.”  Yes, He knew.

Airports~~

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I’ve done a lot of airplane travel over the past year.  I remember as a kid the idea of flying on a plane caused me to much excitement that I could not sleep all night just thinking about my upcoming adventure.  Though I am thankful for the option of taking a flight rather than embarking on a LONG drive; I no longer find it thrilling.

One thing I find especially interesting is the magnitude of people; all walks of life, all ages, all religious beliefs, all occupations gathering in one place to get to and from business or family connections.  Does God have His eye on each one of them? Is He mindful of their lives?

As I look at each face I imagine what their life may be, where they are headed, or what their family may be like. Based on their clothes, accent, or age I come to my own conclusions about them.  Yet, I am quickly reminded that scripture is clear that ” man looks at the outer appearance, while God looks at the heart.”  Even if my conclusions are not in any way critical, I still don’t really know their story or the condition of their heart like God does.

Being at the airport reminds me again and again how big and broad God’s view of us is; my world and context is so small!  Being at the airport reminds me to try to see “other travelers” with Gods point of view and compassion.  Perhaps you have a place you frequent where people regularly gather; school, Starbucks, church, or even a park. When you look around at the faces, think about how God might see them. It will change your perspective as it has mine.

Just something to consider on this blustery Sunday. 🙂