Find the Quiet Waters in Failure

Find the Quiet Waters in Failure

Failure. It seems that everyone experiences it, often, many times. Sometimes that failure is small and insignificant. Other times that failure is catastrophic and even life-threatening. But seasons of failure—even perceived failure—are integral in the fabric of our journey. I shared with my graphic design class last night that we seek to live on the mountaintop of our design efforts. Naturally, we desire to hit success each time we set out on a new task. We seek to live ONLY on the mountain top—hopping from one peak to the other, living in pure bliss. I then recalled something I read that discussed Psalm 23. “He leads me to quiet waters.” The streams of fresh water do not flow along the mountaintops but in the valleys. It is in the valleys where one experiences the rejuvenation of pure spring water, lined with trees and shrubbery that grow fervently along the river banks—not on top of the mountain—and we all need water. When a designer hits a project that ends in disaster and effectively fails, there is the option to lie down and die—bemoaning the woes of fatality— but there is also the option to dangle one’s feet in the water, take a good drink, and splash the coolness on a sweaty forehead—and get back up again. Failures in any segment of life can be devastating but, more importantly, they are an opportunity for revival and renewal. The next mountain peak will come. Drink... read more

The Concert

I sit and quiet my mind. I pray. I listen. And I wait. I wait to see the Glory of God. I look up and find I am in the middle of a great concert hall gilded in gold. The stage is bright and from that stage pours a majestic sea of harmony such as a human soul has ever encountered—the violins dance their way through lilac meadows drawing forth butterflies floating on the fragrant morning mist, the timpani intensifies the air with the drumbeat of armies marching to battle, and the trumpets bray proclamations of golden rays. I see the conductor becoming one with every rise and fall and every pitch and crescendo of the symphony as he guides the orchestra in perfect unity. I do not have anything to make this music happen. I can do nothing but marvel—wrapping myself in the splendor of it all. Every note sends forth a beam of glory that is God’s alone. It fills my heart and I can think of nothing else. But is it enough? Very simply, it is. But I become discontent because, somehow, deep within, I do not feel worthy of God’s glory. I feel that, somehow, I am obligated to be DOING something—anything—to earn my portion of that splendor. Promoting, facilitating, playing, serving….almost anything. I cannot simply sit and receive. My pride will not permit that. Then I hear: “Son, My glory is complete on it’s own. It is complete. It is pure. It is for you that I draw the bow across the violin. It is for you the golden rays resound from the woodwinds. It is for... read more

Not Just an Ordinary Carol

Only days ago, I listened to a particular Christmas carol. It was a staple that gets sung and played in nearly every venue throughout December. For the most part, nearly everyone knows all—or nearly all—the words of at least first stanza. While this rendtion to which I was listening was an instrumental arrangement, the lyrics could not help but course through the recesses of my mind. “Hark,” I would hear the angels sing. “Glory to the new born king,” they broadcast. Glory! Notice the excalmation mark. It is not merely a bold statement aimed to gather the attention of a gaggle of faithful followers but rather a bold proclamation of victory and good…er…GREAT news. I imagine the skies, with the radiance of all of creation, lit up with gold and dancing rays of Christmas. It was then that it struck me that this carol is not, and should not be, considered a quiet, tranquil Christmas tune but a song of grand triumph and fanfare. If THE heavenly hosts—the angels who spend time in the direct presence of God himself—are declaring the birth of a king in the form of a newborn baby, then this must not be your ordinary victory parade that follows the corontation of royalty. This is the call to action for all nations. “Join the triumph of the skies.” The skies are celebrating and beckon for you and I to join them, side by side, “Come join in.” Consider these words: “Incarnate,” “Godhead’” “Everlasting.” Not words casually tossed into the season potpourri but chosen with intent and authority. I figure that if the hightest of heaven... read more

En Route to Mars: McDonald’s and a Splash Pad

His name is Joshua and he is eight years old. I know he is eight year old because his birthday is in three days when he will turn nine. I know this only because he reminded me of the event with great excitement and anticipation. Joshua was my taxi passenger for the second time. I took him to school yesterday and now, I picked him up after school. He is a bright young boy with all the dreams and aspirations merited to anyone of that age. Nothing is beyond the realm of possibility—well within reason, of course, as you will see. At first, I asked him if I could come to his birthday party. He said it would be alright because “there would be other older people there.” There was compassion in his voice ensuring that I—a person of advanced size, years and authority—would feel included. To this, I responded that I will definitely come but not only that, I will eat ALL of the cake and ice cream—ALL OF IT! [silence] “Well,” came a somewhat timid voice from the back seat, “maybe 10%?” I smiled. How could I not? I was not simply told that I could not have ANY of the cake or that that was a silly idea but that, maybe, just maybe, we could come to some sort of respectful compromise.   “So, Joshua,” I inquired, “Are you still interested in astronomy?” (This is something I had learned on the first ride.) “Yeah,” he responded. “Maybe you could be an astronaut!” “Yeah! I could be the first person on Mars!” Now that is not an... read more

Old…Really?

It is the unexpected encounters that can easily elude our attention if we are not careful that add the zest to life. It is these nuggets that offer a fresh perspective that often give us a view of how others see ourselves as they share life their their lens. Sometimes it is accurate, sometime it is not. But in either case, they bring—or should bring—a chuckle and a reminder that life is a richly textured fabric. Given that I had just heard a speech the same morning at Toastmaster by a speaker who shared about his being repeatedly mistaken for being “old” just because his hair showed signs of graying despite only being in his forties, I wondered if God was trying to tell me something. It’s a Small World I picked up my fare one afternoon in my taxi—two young men and an African-American lady. The black lady had an American accent—which made sense given that she was from Massachusetts. The gentlemen, though, each had REAL accents—which made sense given that they were from Dubai. Dubai is the most populous city in the small country of United Arab Emirates. I have never been there and I cannot rightly state that I have met anyone from Dubai. I simply know it as a wealthy, world-renowned desert city. One of the guys from Dubai sat in the front passenger seat. He had plenty of energy and was inclined to do almost all of the talking. He conversed with a sense of self-proclaimed authority, a dreamy passion and a delightful innocence befitting a young, 20-something university student. In the course of conversation,... read more

All About Sports … Beyond the Victory!

The idea about watching sports came up this morning during a conversation with some friends and I started thinking—a rare occurrence I hear you say in jest. Sports are one of the greatest pastimes experienced by the American culture, if not the world. From the time we are little, we learn to play games and those games grow, offering bigger challenges and higher stakes. We learn the skills each sport offers. We learn to engage in healthy competition. We learn how to press on through the struggles so as to win the prize and we develop the muscles and agility of our growing bodies. That fascination hangs with us on into adulthood. As adults, many of us will engage in a sport to some level whether it be a a simple walk around the block or joining some community flag football league. But more often than not, we simply watch sports. Sports have become one of the biggest industries in our economy and the impact of the sporting industry on our country is a worthy discussion for another time. The fact remains is we delight in our sports. But why? Why do we hold on to sports with such passion?  Why do we turn on the TV Sunday after Sunday to watch our favorite NFL teams fight their way to a win or watch our prized figure skater gracefully execute each move with poise and perfection? We know someone will win. Hopefully it is our team or our hero, but if not there is always tomorrow. Then we move on to the next game of the season … and then... read more

“A Little Taller, Please”

She was 4 years old—escorted, of course, by mommy and daddy. She told me her name but I could not understand it, so I will simply call her “P” for princess for, in truth, that is who she was…er….is. She boldly told me, as I drove the taxi, that her birthday is not going to be next month because she already had one last month and that is when she turned 4. I asked what her favorite food was in the whole wide world. “Yogurt,” she say—mainly because she had recently had some. Then she added, “Pizza.” “Oh! What kind of pizza?” “FOUR!” Clearly she was fixated upon her age … or she thought that “four” was the answer for everything to which she did not already know the answer. Then came the BIG question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “Taller,” blurted she without hesitation. “Taller, eh. What should I be when I grow up? At this point, after a moment’s silence, I felt her become introspective and profoundly wise: “You are all ready grown up.” Suddenly, I regretted that morsel of truth as uttered from such a delicately honest mind. I wanted to be that child again, full of vigor and playfulness with an unfettered concept of this thing called “Future.” I suppose, though, that being “grown up” is somewhat of a choice. We can always find a way to play and exhort vigor and idly ponder unfettered dreams. I then had a vision of a creature from Dr Seuss driving a car with its head and body protruding through a hole in... read more
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