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New Year's Resolution - Be A Turnstone

Last December I set some 2012 Goals. I don't like resolutions or promises, I like goals. I especially like goals in writing. I don't work from written goals nearly often enough (maybe that could be a 2013 goal), but when I do - it is amazing how well it works.

Last year, about this time, I set these goals:

1. Celebrate today - everything we do, each moment we live is too precious to be treated as a passing fancy. I will better live in the now.

2. Laugh harder - there are too many minutes between belly laughs so intense that they make me cry.

3. Pray deeper - it is time to embrace an ancient and powerful oracle once again.

 All in all, I met these goals more often than not in 2012. #2 was especially helpful and challenging. Life on life's terms can suck the joy right out of you, unless you tenaciously keep perspective. Part of my #2 was completing my book, Wishful Preaching: Things I Wish I'd Said From The Pulpit. Writing it and sharing it with others has kept me laughing.

I'm still working on my specific set of goals for this year, but I have one piece of it nailed down. I want to live like a bird in 2013 - a particular kind of bird, the Turnstone.

Turnstone at work

Living along the seashore, the Turnstone feeds on insect and animal life near the water line. Like the sea gull, sandpiper and countless other shore birds, it is dependent on the food it can find. Shore birds search the surf's edge and beach sand for the unsuspecting bug, crab or minnow   However, the Turnstone has developed a habit of doing more than hunting on the surface of things. The Turnstone, as it's name suggest, will use it's hardy beak and strong neck to flip over shells, rocks and seaweed to uncover a meal that other shore birds will miss entirely. I feel a life-lesson analogy coming on...

It seems that I need a bit of Turnstone in the days ahead. I don't want to just react to what appears in front of me, or crawls across my path in the months ahead. I want to look into the crevices of life, search for the nourishment that hides beneath the surface of each day, flip over apparent failures and see what can be uncovered. Too often we give up. Frequently we accept less. NO! I say. Let's enter this new year with the determination to uncover the richness of our particular lives and the strength to crack it open and feast on the victory!

Will you join me in a Turnstone New Year?

Work Contest - I Must Rule

So, today a contest was announced at work and the challenge is to get as many new followers to follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook and Connect with us on LinkedIn. By using special URLs they can track who sends people to the pages.

Here's what I need you to do (PLEASE). Click on each of the links below. Like, Follow or Connect as the destination page allows. That's it.

AND - If you leave me a comment with your Social links, I promise to return the favor. Deal?

Pretty please with sugar on top...

Click NOW!

Besides...we get PIZZA!

Vacation California - the "First Times" TRIP!

I promise not to dump hundreds of photos (although I DO have them) and countless meanderings upon you from my recent trip to California. I will however share a post each week for some time on my 'first time' experiences and a few stories.

First up... my first time - hike up to the famous Hollywood sign. Originally, the sign read Hollywood Land and was intended to promote the availability of land as a new and somewhat risky real-estate opportunity.

I found it much smaller than I imagined and after several balancing tricks, we moved on to other adventures.

Happy Birthday to Kim Williams!

May 2, 1958! Old Guys Rule!

Sunday Coffee Cup - A Welsh Dragon Friend

Although the dragon has been associated with many cultures, events and causes, one of the oldest and most continuous references is the Welsh dragon. Commonly attributed to the coat of arms of King Arthur, the Welsh dragon has flown for centuries over castles, armies and feasts.

This morning, a Welsh dragon stands undaunted in my kitchen; a coffee cup sporting a pewter design given to me by a long standing friend as a gift this past Christmas.

 The dragon is a welcome member in our home. Somewhere in my own ancestry, I have Welsh heritage.  My wife’s Chinese zodiac sign is the dragon. I have read more stories and novels about dragons than I care to publicly admit (although, if you haven’t discovered Christopher Paolini’s “Inheritance Cycle” you should).  Yet, what gives this mug particular brilliance this morning is the manner and source of the gift.

We all have them, friends who have been with us for a long time. They're the friends who know us “warts and all.” Friends -that take the time to visit, laugh and celebrate with you. Friends -who have stood with you through your best and worst, reminding you not to take too much credit for the former nor too much blame for the later. Such is the friend who gifted me with the Welsh dragon of today’s Sunday Coffee Cup. For these reasons alone I am grateful. The cup is more, however.

Over the past two years, this friend of mine has struggled with employment. This Christmas has found him on the short end of long line of financial challenges and still unemployed. Unable to buy gifts this Christmas, he gave me this gift from his common possessions – something he regularly used and valued. He chose to offer to me a measure of his life, a gift – appropriate in nature for sure – but a gift that meant he would in a small way, be doing with less by the giving of it. There is something remarkably refreshing in such giving and in this cup of coffee this morning.

2012 Goals

I think I'll pick these...

1. Celebrate today - everything we do, each moment we live is too precious to be treated as a passing fancy. I will better live in the now.

2. Laugh harder - there are too many minutes between belly laughs so intense that they make me cry.

3. Pray deeper - it is time to embrace an ancient and powerful oracle once again.

Sunday Coffee Cup - New Year - What If!?

Well, here it is: New Year’s Day. Happy New Year! I’ve been wandering around the various Social Media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and my long list of blogs, and as expected, the current theme is all about new beginnings, resolutions and starting anew.

The end of a year (2011) and the beginning of a new year (2012) brings many of us to reflection. This morning’s Sunday Coffee Cup is no exception. Someone gave my wife this one last year (2011). If asking the right questions is the key to reflection (and I think it is), then we can get a good start with today’s inquisitive mug: What if money didn’t matter? What if you knew you could not fail? What if you could be anyone you wanted to be?

As I reflect on this year, I wonder, what if I’m already doing the right things. So often we look for new ideas, new habits and new practices. What if I look for what I am already doing that is working and just commit to continuing or amplifying those things? What if I begin this year with a deeper level of self acceptance for who I am and what I am already doing right? What if I stop striving to become something bigger, bolder and better than myself and just celebrate the me that already is?

Sure. I could lose a little weight, get more fit, read more, worry less, earn more, be more charitable, spend more time with family, be a better employee, achieve a few more professional/personal goals… and I probably will – because these things are important to me; always have been. Yet, I find myself wondering if I really need something new, something different in order to make this year, 2012, a great year. Isn’t it possible, that all I really need to do – is to keep doing the things that are working?  Maybe that is all I really need to do in order to make it happen. Maybe it is enough to be vigilant with what is already established. Maybe if I keep doing what I’m doing – I’ll keep getting what I’m getting, which (if I’m totally honest) is pretty darn good.  I do find some comfort in this thought.

Yet, the biggest comfort comes from my conviction that in the final analysis, the contribution that I make to my life is only a small part of what makes my life meaningful. It is true that no one can live my life other than me. It is true that I have full responsibility for my choices. It is also true that we all live in relationship to each other and often the significance of our living is manifest in countless and often unknown ways beyond our individual intent. How many of us have heard a student comment on the life changing actions of a single teacher only to have that teacher confess surprise at that revelation. I’ve had many experiences where people whose lives have been affected by moments from my years in ministry tell me of significant and life changing events that were ‘news to me.’ There is more going on than just what we determine and choose. It is my conviction that there is a loving, caring God at work in our lives doing far more for us and with our actions than we can fully understand.

2012 promises to be a great year because it doesn’t depend on me. I’ll do my part, for sure. I’ll keep doing the things that are working. I’ll try a few ways to better myself – and at the end of December 2012 I am already certain that –God willing – I will be celebrating another year that is great beyond my expectations.

Happy New Year.