What Lance Armstrong whispered in my ear

I don’t know exactly when I heard it. It was sometime in the last few months when our opinion of him was doing a 360. I heard it again last week when he was with Oprah.

Several times I jerked my head expecting to find him right on my shoulder whispering. I mean, it had to be him. Tell me you don’t think this was him . . .

I know your game isn’t the same as mine, but you can still be world class like me.

Just convince yourself that no one will know, that no one will get hurt, that this is just a little secret among friends. Tell yourself that others have done much worse, that in the big picture this is not so bad at all.

I discovered the power of this little deception right at the beginning, and it’s amazing how it serves everything from your thought life to secret habits to ‘emotional’ relationships to the Tour de France.

The beauty of this baby is that the longer you go, the better you do it. This enables you to keep at it even longer, until you’re 100% convinced it’s true, and you have succeeded at changing reality.

I was so good at it that I was able to threaten and punish people who told the ‘truth’ about me and I didn’t feel a bit of guilt or regret. THAT, my friend, is world class.

It was so clear I almost wanted to take notes. This is Lance Armstrong, right? Then the tone of his voice changed and he slowly whispered:

Reality . . . hits . . . hard.

And when it does–when you’re discovered and everyone knows–it’s impossible to look at yourself and how bad you are. So you don’t. You downplay it. You insist things can stay the same.

Okay, you may cheat and lie, but that doesn’t make you a cheater and liar. (Although when it’s someone else, you easily toss out the cheater and liar conclusion.)

You’re compelled to tell people they’re judgmental, legalistic, unloving, and ‘just as bad.’ You do anything to escape the pain and responsibility of guilt.

Nothing works. To come clean is as impossible as winning the Tour de France.

Because to come clean means you have to change who you think you are.

Everybody else has already changed their mind about who you are. Try doing that when it’s you! It took years to create your own reality. No way you can change back overnight.

You convinced yourself it’s only a little corner of your life, it’s not really who you are. Now your little corner IS your whole life.

That’s all Lance, right? That’s not me talking to me about what could happen if I’m not careful.

Right?

How to pray for a sofa

We’re shopping for a larger sofa. We’re praying about it.

Sometimes at furniture stores I see the pilot/co-pilot theater sofas with built-in cupholders and slide-away snack trays. And they massage you. A corner of me wants to give up and veg out in front of the flat-screen on one of those sofas for the next ten years.

We’re not praying for that.

Our current sofa seats three max. There is one comfortable chair in the room, and a few other look-better-than-feel chairs. So we have comfy seating for three or four. When all our family visits there are twelve.

And every Sunday night we host between seven and seventeen friends for food, conversation, a Bible study, and fun. We use kitchen chairs and even plastic patio chairs. It’s fine, but not conducive to relaxing.

We are praying for that.

It’s not so much what you pray for, but why. Why do you want it? What do you want to see happen?

We want to fulfill the purpose of our home for our family and for friends. We want people to be able to relax and  connect with each other and with God. Yes this can happen even with three-legged stools and wooden benches. But we don’t want words like stiff, straight, and hard to be any part of their experience in our home, even with such an un-spiritual thing as a sofa.

The more confidence you have that the thing you want is for God’s purposes and the benefit of people, the more confident you pray.

What’s one thing you’re praying for now, and why are you praying for it?

~~~

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How to have friends after you’re dead

At dinner recently I mentioned that Oswald Chambers helps me almost every day.

John said, very seriously, “He’s a good friend of yours, isn’t he?”

I hadn’t thought of him as a friend but yes, he is.

Chambers has been dead 96 years. Seven years after he died his wife put his words into a devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. Technically, Chambers did not write the book. His wife took shorthand notes when he gave talks to students and soldiers during WWI. Those talks became Utmost.

I have another friend who is still alive. We don’t see each other much anymore, but the quality of his life, words, advice, and wisdom still encourage me.

You’re going to spend a lot more time as history than you are as today.

Some people are influential today, but irrelevant in the future.

Some are irrelevant today, but are influential in the future.

Some are both.

What one thing can you do today that could live as a friend in someone after you’re gone?

If what you say has value, it will last longer than you will

- Vance Havner

The unselfish kind of selfishness

Maybe you’ll be kind to someone this week because you want kindness.

Maybe you’ll forgive because you need forgiveness.

Maybe you’ll be generous, tell the truth with love, give the benefit of the doubt, encourage.

Because you want it. You need it in your world.

Like writing the novel you want to read, and hoping there are others like you, so you do the thing you want and need. And hope there are others like you.

You have good reason to have that hope:

With the measure you use it will be measured to you – Luke 6.38

You can throw a baseball through your neighbor’s window

(photo by BigMan50)

But you can’t make your neighbor like it.

In our news the last five days we’ve seen a war zone of stories about generals and their families, and about women hiding in homes from telephoto lenses. We don’t see the very human part of the conversations going on in those families and homes. But we can guess.

We can guess it’s not much fun right now. If only you could reverse time and go back to when things were normal! 

And with all the cameras, stories, and scoops on what really happened and why, there’s bound to be some really bad reporting mixed in there somewhere. And when you’re the subject of the bad reporting it just drives you mad.

Isn’t the truth bad enough? Who gave people the right to invent your motivations and dig up irrelevant stuff and get so much wrong and then act like vultures and broadcast it to the world? Who do those people think they are?

It’s too late for that.

It’s too late to complain or try to control.

You’re not going to get any sympathy.

You’re just making it worse.

The time to influence people’s reaction to you is when you make the decision or do the deed.

And even then you don’t have much control.

Back in the old days I could choose to drink, but I couldn’t choose my wife’s reaction. Lecturing her on her reaction would be idiotic, even if she got some details wrong.

You can choose to finally tell your boss off. You can choose to give your spouse the silent treatment and be convinced they deserve it. You can choose to belch loudly and repeatedly during your daughter’s wedding vows.

You can do all that. You’re free!

But you can’t choose the consequences, or control what people say or think about what you do.

Nothing to see here. Move along : Day 30 of 31

This is just a video about the making of the T-Mobile dance commercial.

Fun. Entertaining.

Just a dot.

Could there be other dots that connect and take this dot to another level? And then when the dots connect could they reinforce each other and give each other deeper meaning for your life?

HaHaHa! Of course not. It’s just a video.

But let’s try anyway.

I’ll start. The quotes are from the video.

~~

Someone made this big old world and he made it for a reason. Then something bad happens in the world and people are dying but don’t know it. So as part of his reason he sends his son to the world to rescue people before it’s too late.

He’s working his reason out continually, but most people don’t see it. It’s not obvious on the surface of things.

It’s so big you can’t take it all in.

The people he rescues become pretty grateful. They don’t even know they need rescued until it happens. When they realize this, it fills them with joy. But the son isn’t done. He wants to use the grateful, joyful ones to rescue more people.

Your job is to pick someone up along the way.

Their joy and gratitude is to be something the people who need rescuing will find irresistible. People will be attracted and want to join in, without realizing it’s all a setup, part of an agenda to give them the same joy and gratitude.

But it’s all covert.

It’s like there’s a whole production going on behind the scenes of the world. Like it’s all choreographed, not for robots but for joyful, grateful people. And the choreographer is watching with excitement, unseen.

The real magic exists in you being able to convince members of the general public to join in and do what you’re doing

But sometimes the grateful, joyful people forget. They get all caught up in their own world–a wonderful world!–and forget their real assignment.

You’re so caught up in the dance that you’re not turning your head and saying to someone, “C’mon! Join in!”

Well, like I said, probably no other dots here. Just a fun video.

OR you COULD consider it your graduate class in dot connecting. Whatever. Enjoy.

(If you’re reading in email click HERE to go to the website for the video. It’s 4:24 and a joy.)

So what jumps out at you in the video?

~~~~

Day 30 of 31 Days of Connecting the Dots: make more sense of your life, your world, your hopes and dreams

People are a dot : Day 24 of 31

The People Dot is a lot like the You Dot.

It’s the other side of the You Dot where you know and care about everything going on inside you, but you can’t see inside the other person. So you guess what’s inside the other person, and for some reason we usually guess the worst. Or we just judge by the outside and forget they even have an inside. Okay, maybe that’s just me.

However, it’s not that hard to know what’s going on inside the other person.

It’s the same kind of thing going on inside you

Whenever you realize that, you’re connecting the dots.

That can change all your relationships.

God made our lives to be richer when we connect with what’s inside other people.

If you have a best friend you’re experiencing that richness. You connect with your friend’s insides.

And that means our lives are poorer when we’re disconnected from other people.

Tommy was my brother-in-law. He died about 25 years ago. He was a gentle, generous man to my wife, the little sister of his wife.

Tommy was a car salesman all the years I knew him. I had heard he was a boxer in a previous life, but I never asked him about it. I guess it wasn’t interesting to me at the time. I had my own stuff going on, with kids, being unemployed, and all that beer I had to drink.

I didn’t care to connect the dots

Recently, we had a big family get-together for a few hours and Tommy’s wife and daughters were there. As we were leaving they brought out a scrapbook the girls created for their mom.

It was filled with clippings and stories and photos of Tommy’s boxing career. Photos with Jack Dempsey. Tommy was a little guy, a Golden Gloves amateur. He lost only 4 of his first 36 fights. He won the California State Featherweight title. He fought in Madison Square Garden, Boston Garden, and the Cotton Bowl.

His family has a gold badge giving them lifetime admission to any Golden Gloves event.

I never knew

I’d love to ask Tommy about that fight with Ricardo Moreno. It was Moreno’s first fight in America, and 6,000 of his fans from Mexico filled the stadium. Another 2,000 were turned away.

What was it like to have everyone booing you and rooting against you, screaming for another guy to clobber you? What was it like in the dressing room after you lost?

And when you were knocked out in the first round of your last fight, did you know at the time it was your last? Why’d you retire? You were only 24.

I’ll never know

You don’t have forever to ask questions, to be curious, to care. Things change fast, and when they do it’s permanent. Your chance to make a first-hand connection with someone’s heart, life, and story, evaporates. Instead of a flesh-and-blood, eyeball-to-eyeball encounter with a scene from your family movie, you get to stare at flat yellow clippings in a scrapbook. If there is a scrapbook. Your loss.

Who makes your life richer because you connect the dots with their insides and not just their outside?

~~~~

Day 24 of 31 Days of Connecting the Dots: make more sense of your life, your world, your hopes and dreamsYou can visit the Nester to choose from over 1,200 more 31 Dayers.

My scars, they are your scars, and your world is mine

That’s my daughter about to ring the doorbell at the home of the mother of her childhood best friend. The best friend died of brain cancer two years ago.

My daughter was nervous. She hadn’t seen her friend or her friend’s mom in ten years. She didn’t know what she was going to say.

Her friend’s mother wasn’t home. Whew.

As my daughter walked away a neighbor across the street asked if she could help. The neighbor said the mom wasn’t there but would be down the street the next day.

My daughter wasn’t sure about going back. Through the window when she was ringing the doorbell she had seen a lift rigged to the stairs and she pictured the mom old and disabled and maybe it would just be too sad for everyone for her to visit. Now she was even more nervous.

She want back anyway. She took her sister. And her own mom, my wife. We all used to be neighbors, but that was 25 years ago.

It was a short, good visit. The mom wasn’t sick or disabled or sad. What a relief. But then she pulled out photos of her daughter’s small child. My daughter didn’t know her friend had any kids. Now THAT was sad. The visitors were sadder than the host. The mom had been through the grieving process. The guests hadn’t.

They held their tears until they left the house with their backs to the door. Then they boo-hoo’d in the car.

Why invite pain? Why invite sadness? The mom will never know if you choose not to knock.

Yes she will

If you knock she gets another little sign that she’s not forgotten and alone. Little signs might be all she has.

You have kids. You imagine how she feels.

YOU don’t want to be forgotten and alone.

So you knock.

Expect the basement

 

Sooner or later you always get to the basement, in every relationship, family, workplace, organization, neighborhood, church.

The basement is not where the bodies are. It’s not where the bad stuff is.

The basement is where you see the stuff you don’t like

It’s where the sausage is made. It’s the tangled underside of the quilt you love.

It’s the first argument where you realize that new special person doesn’t really play fair. And they think the same of you.

It’s underwear on the floor and the toilet seat up, but to them it’s you griping about normal stuff like underwear on the floor and toilet seats up. All multiplied times a thousand.

It’s HR polices, decisions that seem silly, lack of appreciation, misunderstandings, quirky bosses, and ‘personalities.’

It’s the pastor’s long stories, the style of music, the ministries they emphasize, the ministries they don’t emphasize, offenses all around, and ‘it shouldn’t be this way, this is church.’

The basement is different for everybody

The things you find in the basement are not the same things others find. Some see you in the basement. And you see them.

I think in any new thing, you can expect to see the basement within a year or two. Maybe three. The more involved you are, the sooner you find it. The longer you’re there, the more you see.

At first everything is wonderful. Upstairs is bright and welcoming. The lights are on, the floors are swept, the dishes clean. This doesn’t mean it’s phony or fake; it’s just the way it is.

When you see the basement at the beginning, you leave, right? It’s the reason you don’t marry that person or take that job or go to that church. The lights aren’t bright to you.

So what do you do when you finally find the basement later?

That, of course is up to you.

What is not up to you is whether or not the next person or place has a basement. They do, guaranteed.

Expect the basement

Expect that the nature of the basement is that you disagree with what’s there and don’t like it.

And expect the temptation to fool yourself that the next basement will for sure be better than this one.

Ask while you can

Tommy was my brother-in-law. He died about 25 years ago. He was a gentle, generous man to my wife, the little sister of his wife.

Tommy was a car salesman all the years I knew him. I had heard he was a boxer in a previous life, but I never asked him about it. I guess it wasn’t interesting to me at the time. I had my own stuff going on, with kids, being unemployed, and all that beer I had to drink.

Recently, we had a big family get-together for a few hours and Tommy’s wife and daughters were there. As we were leaving they brought out a scrapbook the girls created for their mom.

It was filled with clippings and stories and photos of Tommy’s boxing career. Photos with Jack Dempsey. Tommy was a little guy, a Golden Gloves amateur. He lost only 4 of his first 36 fights. He won the California State Featherweight title. He fought in Madison Square Garden, Boston Garden, and the Cotton Bowl.

His family has a gold badge giving them lifetime admission to any Golden Gloves event.

I never knew

I’d love to ask Tommy about that fight with Ricardo Moreno. It was Moreno’s first fight in America, and 6,000 of his fans from Mexico filled the stadium. Another 2,000 were turned away.

What was that like, to have everyone booing you and rooting against you, screaming for another guy to clobber you? What was it like in the dressing room after you lost?

And when you were knocked out in the first round of your last fight, did you know at the time it was your last? Why’d you retire? You were only 24.

I’ll never know

* * *

You don’t have forever to ask questions, to be curious, to care. Things change fast, and when they do it’s permanent. Your chance to make a first-hand connection with someone’s heart, life, and story, evaporates. Instead of a flesh-and-blood, eyeball-to-eyeball encounter with a scene from your family movie, you get to stare at flat yellow clippings in a scrapbook. If there is a scrapbook. Your loss.