Your Monday morning pep talk

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Friday we cried again.

We expect leaves to fall in October and November.

What if they fall in April?

And what if they fall because someone pulls them off the trees? As if the leaves had done something wrong.

It’s unnatural. If this can happen, what else unnatural can happen?

“I don’t feel safe anymore,” I could think.

Good. I’ve never really ever been safe. I need to feel the reality of it.

I’ve never been safe because this has never been my home. There’s another home God has in mind and these things don’t happen in that home, but we’re not there yet.

Until then, there’s trouble and tragedy that feels unnatural but isn’t. It’s natural for a broken world to act broken.

Only by the grace and mercy of God has all hell not broken loose in my life and my world.

For those parents and families in Connecticut, it has broken loose. For my wife’s friend Stephanie, whose daughter was found this week at the bottom of a pond, it has. For my friend Allison, who has breast cancer, it has.

So where’s the pep talk?

Long before the bad news from Connecticut, my friend Allison – the one with breast cancer – said,

“I feel sorry for people who don’t have cancer.”

Obviously, you have to ask why. Her answer comes from someone who has experienced tragedy, and yet is deeply grateful. In a way that I’ll probably never know, she has learned that absolutely nothing can separate her from the love of God.

I put her answer on the radio station I serve, right after Burl Ives feeling holly and jolly.

Her answer is your pep talk. Click the link to listen.

Allison — gratefulness, tragedy, and the love of God.

What are you thankful for today?

Something is very wrong with our Christmas tree

We slowly stepped around it in the field at the tree farm. You know how you’re looking for which side will go against the wall? This tree had no bad sides. Brenda wanted slim but full, and the whole thing looked perfectly full top to bottom. The branches draped in a circle on the ground without a bare spot anywhere.

Brenda loved it. “It’s so beautiful!”

We got it home and in water and turned it this way and that to see which angle was best. It still didn’t matter–all sides were equally full.

We wrapped it in lights and hung the silver and gold balls. Then put on the harp and cross ornaments.

Brenda goes, “Hmmm.”

We hung the little plastic icicles. Stood back and looked. Moved some things around. Stood back and looked some more.

“Something’s missing,” Brenda said.

I said, “Maybe it needs some contrast, something red or green thrown in.”

“Nooooo,” She said, “I like silver and gold like we always have. Do we usually have more lights?”

“No. Exact same lights.”

We both began realizing what was wrong.

The tree is too perfect.

Too full, too symmetrical, too straight.

It’s boring. It needs some nooks and crannies, some branches sticking out here and there, some bare spots, a live squirrel popping it’s head out, something. It doesn’t look real.

Living things have strengths and weaknesses, holes and surprises. You think you want everything fixed, running smooth and predictable, but when you get it you’re disappointed.

You’re not wired for a perfect life.

As I go through my imperfect life today and this week, with imperfect people and surprises, with my own bares spots and my own awkward branches sticking out, I hope I can remember this perfect tree that has something very wrong with it. I hope you remember it too.

And when a squirrel pops his head out . . .

I think I find most help in trying to look on all the interruptions and hindrances to work that one has planned out for oneself as discipline, trials sent by God to help one against getting selfish over one’s work.

Then one can feel that perhaps one’s true work–one’s work for God–consists in doing some trifling haphazard thing that has been thrown into one’s day. It is not a waste of time, as one is tempted to think, it is the most important part of the work of the day–the part one can best offer to God.

After such a hindrance, do not rush after the planned work; trust that the time to finish it will be given sometime, and keep a quiet heart about it.

Annie Keary

Can you think of a recent imperfect day or occasion that was beautiful because of the imperfections?

Your Monday morning pep talk

“NOT TODAY I DON’T”

Jack Black’s “Gulliver” movie was pretty forgettable, but there was one scene I can’t forget.

Gulliver is about to change his life. He’s been in the mailroom too long, fooling around and fooling himself too long, afraid to do anything but the same old thing. Life has just thrown one of those “what are you going to do with this?” moments at him. Wrongs need righted and bad guys vanquished.

And there’s no one else to do it.

You can hate it, or you can accept it as a gift.

“Gulliver, you work in the mailroom,” his wish-she-was my-girlfriend Darcy says, doubting.

“Not today I don’t,” he says.

And today he doesn’t.

What if, just for today, you did the same thing?

Not today I don’t . . . 

  • act like it doesn’t matter
  • get by with as little as possible
  • grumble and gripe and feel sorry for myself
  • go thru the motions, phone it in, line up at the time clock
  • tell myself I’m a loser and daydream that I’m not
  • believe that little voice that says it’s hopeless
  • let my feelings tell me what to do
  • act like no one’s watching
  • live as if there’s no God
  • (add your own)
  • (add another)
  • (and another)

Just for today — Not today I don’t. 

Your Monday morning pep talk

When you get to the blank below, insert the place where you are investing yourself this week–work, family, school, marriage, relationship, whatever. Be specific. Make sure you personalize it.

‘I have chosen you.’

Keep that note of greatness in your creed.

It is not that you have got God but that He has got you.

Here, in this _____________, God is at work, bending, breaking, moulding, doing just as He chooses.

Why He is doing it, we do not know; He is doing it for one purpose only – that He may be able to say, This is My man, My woman.

We have to be in God’s hand so that He can plant men on the Rock as He has planted us.

- Oswald Chambers

Now go forth in confidence that God is using this week’s unpredictability and chaos to dent your world with grace.