Where I work we use about five different metal finishers for parts we have manufactured for our products. Occasionally I make a pre-7am visit on my way in to work.
This past Thursday I arrived early to make a drop off and saw this box outside one of the industrial buildings the finisher occupies. A small box, out in the open on a white wash repaired wall, locked away to forget. Plans made long ago only to possibly-by-chance be remembered during a future emergency.
Later on my drive to work I thought about how God always has a contingency plan. But just like this box His plan is sometimes outside our view, our lives, our thoughts. Just like this box I often live my life with His contingency plan out-of-sight & out-of-mind. Just like this box there is a key that opens His contingency plan.
Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten about the box or lost the key. God has been keeping it safe for us all along. Right about now might be a good time to open it up.
This is a video from a while back. I thought of it while discussing the state of the USA with some men over breakfast on Friday. If I can find my technical blog post when I first posted the video years ago I’ll update the end of this post. Meanwhile, sit-back and be educated.
This last Monday in January 2018 means I have three days left to finalize my New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions which I should have finished by January 1st. WAIT! Do I really “know” that the deadline is January 1st or do I just assume I’ve learned that somewhere. Can I point to a rule that says when resolutions are supposed to be completed. Heck, where is the rule about making resolutions in the first place?
2017 was a worldwide year of talk. There are currently congressional hearings about what’s been said by someone and when and where did that knowledge come from. It seems to me that a lot of very prominent public people have been talking with out ever double checking their knowledge. “Facts” overheard or half dreamed up are tossed about like sneezes… uncontrolled & infecting everyone in a breath’s distance or a news clip’s length.
I’m growing impatient with people who sneeze out “facts” they haven’t personally researched or experienced. Sneezers spew out what they know as facts based on sneezes caught from others. It’s an epidemic. A sneezing reality TV show of fiction vs fact. Theory is regarded as truth without regard to experience. It’s just gossip. Most sneezers are so far removed from the real action of the subject matter their only role in the matter is to sneeze. Even a modest amount of fact finding would give the sneezers an advantage. A chance to contribute in a positive manner. But to do that sneezers would have to gain a little experience first. And… hold back the sneezes.
The last time I played tennis was at least 25 years ago. I’ve forgotten how to score but I remember that if all things are equal near the end of the game an additional milestone suddenly appears called Advantage. It’s a warning to the opponent(s) that they are about to get beat. It’s also an undeserved gift of grace that allows the losing side one last chance. In 2018 shall I just count on a second chance like in tennis or do I create an advantage with experience?
Experience beats presumed knowledge or theory every single time. It doesn’t matter how much thought or craftsmanship goes into a project or how much research goes into a theory. Getting experience is what matters. We can learn a lot from watching others but we don’t finish off that learning until we get our feet in the water ourselves. Our own personal real-life trials. Experience produces the win.
My friends Dustin & Malissa are two people that realize experience is a key advantage in life. They have traveled &/or worked around the world. They spend time and money for additional education. They want to experience the world themselves and not rely on the blog posts of other’s experiences. They are approaching their journey in steps of gained experience. Last week was one of those steps. They put their feet in the water (and their bodies through miles and miles, days and days, of endless undulating washed-out back road terrain) to test theories, concepts, and themselves. They are working on their advantage by gaining experience. Forty three seconds at a time.
Sometimes we have to pass 43 second tests to get ready for the long haul. Do we know enough? Did we make the correct evaluations? What we don’t know, will it stop us? What experience can we gain to earn an advantage?
One last resolution for 2018, I am not going to sneeze. Instead I’m going to gain advantage with experience. Perhaps you
can will too!
Why does the word change make me cringe? Is it because I think of change when I’m evaluating myself against others? If I change will I compare better from a success or accomplishment or material possession standpoint? Is it because I often associate change with pain and guilt and fear? Is it because there is usually a financial consequence to change (either I have to spend money or divert money from where I’d like to spend it)? Change is something I might need to do, but something I usually don’t want to do.
Why is it ok to grow but not to change. Heck, there are even popular sayings like “change for the worse” or “don’t ever change” to help us resist change. I’ve made plenty of changes that looking back I don’t consider as growth. Maybe I need to change that.
With help from dictionary.com I decided to dig a little further. The first and second use of the word don’t sound too bad.
It’s not until near the bottom with use #20 that I started to get excited.
Yet, use #30 is where I really don’t want to be.
30. A balance of money that is returned when the sum tendered in payment is larger than the sum due.
In our little household plenty of obvious things have changed in recent years. Our house has changed into one that’s half the previous size. My vehicle choice has changed into one less than half it’s previous size. My first choice in soft drinks has changed. And, I’m consciously forcing myself to drink much less of it. We’re about to buy a car that comes from the factory with a cord and a plug (which matches our tiny house that gets electricity through a cord and a plug). Even our clothing sizes have changed. See! Change often means less, not more.
Internal or change-of-heart kind of change is a much bigger struggle for me. It’s still January and this month we’re encouraged to reflect on our past and to chart our year’s course. I don’t want to end up with definition #30… leftovers. I don’t like leftovers. To me it’s stuff kept around and warmed up for re-use (because it likely wasn’t good enough the first time or that new and exciting alternatives were not planed for).
There are 1 year, 11 months, and 10 days before it’s the year 2020. If hindsight is 20/20 then I better
adopt pursue change now. So I’m not a leftover.
Everyday items like stir sticks are often overlooked, never glorified, sometimes forgotten, yet have profound influences on our lives. Looking forward, I’d like to be like that, a stir stick!
Stir sticks get to mix two or more dissimilar items into one enjoyable substance. Stir sticks get to dissolve bad stuff into good stuff. Stir sticks get to remake the ordinary into something better. Stir sticks don’t draw attention to themselves. Stir sticks make no noise. Stir sticks are still usable even if they are partly broken. Stir sticks don’t mind being set aside after use. Yet, stir sticks are often kept close at hand ready to be reused. Stir sticks are servants.
From corporate boardrooms to vacation destinations, from street carts to corporate jets, from executive mansions to tents, from the hands of world leaders to the hands of the homeless, stir sticks really get around. Stir sticks just fit in.
Stir sticks also get to play completely different roles that they were never intended for. Stir sticks are the original fidget sticks. Stir sticks get to calm nerves, incite thoughts, and inspire action. Stir sticks get used to facilitate conversations, underscore details, and be a be a place holder for thought reflections. Stir sticks are central to our lives.
I think I’ve decided I’m going to be a stir stick.
Why can’t “adults” be interns? Looking back, I’ve spent all of my years so far being an intern. I’m OK with that. In fact, I aspire to be an intern!
Interns have permission to ask questions. Interns are given a second chance when mistakes are made. Interns get to be confused. Interns are allowed to look bewildered. Interns (well some places) are allowed to have slightly less stylish clothes. Interns are encouraged to ask questions. Interns are allowed to linger at the Craft Services table longer (and take home dinner portions of snacks at the end of the day). Interns are allowed to just hang out soaking in the work and skills of others. Interns are allowed to dream out loud. Interns are allowed to ask more questions. Interns have an expectation that they are about to learn something. Interns expect others to be willing to spend time teaching them something. Interns are allowed the time necessary to eventually change their first unfounded and uneducated incorrect ideas. Interns expect to get feedback. Interns are on a quest for growth. Intern’s questions are never-ending.
Internships are like going to a hot springs. Expect a long dusty drive along a bumpy road. Expect the air conditioning to be broken. Expect to get wet. Expect to get some mud between the toes. Expect to smell like sulfur (or sweat) afterwards. Expect a need to change your clothes afterwards. Expect to get your hands dirty. But go anyway and willingly submit to being changed.
I think I’ve decided I’m looking for an internship.