Saturday, November 27, 2010

Preparation is Key

My dad is an amazing man. He’s 87 years old and SHARP. He can still kick his leg in the air and touch his toe. His lye hominy, succotash, and hot water cornbread are delicious and can’t be matched! He knows every word of “’Twas the Night before Christmas”—and recites it with great emotion every year. He’s serious. He puts his best foot in EVERYTHING he does.

One thing I have learned from my dad is the importance of preparation. John F. Kennedy said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” Henry Hartman said, “Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity.” My father is the embodiment of preparation. He is always READY.

On any given day you can find him in his room studying his Bible, reading a newspaper, or watching the news to keep up with current events. You can talk to him about almost anything, and he will have something intelligent to say about it. He’s charismatic and his demeanor attracts people to him. You can’t help but admire him and listen when he speaks. You care because it is obvious that he cares.

He shares knowledge about things most people are too busy to think about. On Thanksgiving, for example, my family and I cooked at my parents’ house. I asked my dad to say the prayer. We gathered around the table, starving to say the least, and before he prayed he gave a lengthy speech about the origin of Thanksgiving. None of us expected it…but he had his speech prepared and he delivered it, enlightening the young and reminding the old about where it all began. I appreciated it.

When it comes to money matters, he is on top of things. He reads every statement and hops on discrepancies right away. When tax time comes he is able to give accurate records to his preparer so that all she has to do is plug in his numbers and things go fairly smooth.

When he goes on vacation, his bags are packed neatly and efficiently. I don’t think he’s ever forgotten anything he NEEDED for a trip. His tickets are in hand and he is always on time for his flights.

When called to give accounts for any choices or decisions he’s made, he’s right there—documentation in hand—READY.

He has been in the ministry for over 53 years. In the 28 years that I’ve known him, there hasn’t been a time that he brought a message that he didn’t first prepare. I won’t say that every message he preached had the entire congregation shouting and running around the church, but I will say that the subjects had been given a great deal of thought, attention, and prayer.

My dad knocks out the stressful situations life throws him by being prepared. He enjoys the uplifting situations life sends his way because he is prepared.

One of my goals is to take my dad’s example and be better prepared for whatever comes my way. Preparation is key. And today I make the conscious decision to stay READY.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

All Eyes Are On Me

I’m being watched. Everything I do is being scrutinized—and then emulated. And everything I say is being recorded—and then regurgitated. Can you imagine that? There are literally at least 2 sets of eyes studying my every move and 2 sets of ears listening to my every word every single day of my life…

If I put on skinny jeans and boots, sure enough there is a 7 year old in skinny jeans and boots and a 2 year old in Dora panties and boots looking right back at me and smiling. If I put on my sunglasses and look through the rear-view mirror, I will see 2 pair of shades staring back at me. When I listen to Amari playing teacher in her room, she sounds just like I do when I am checking her homework in the evenings. And when Halle brushes her father’s head a little too hard, she says, “I sorry, daddy” JUST LIKE I DO to her.

This got me to thinking. There are many ways that we can be witnesses for Christ…and one is to live for God and walk upright in our very own homes. The way I live in front of my children when no one is around is of the utmost importance. It affects how they see themselves, how they see our world, and how they see Christ.

Proverbs 22: 6 says to train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. I’m nowhere near perfect, but I am working diligently to be a great example for my children. With the help of God, I am training them well.

I want my children to be honest, so I am honest and I stress the importance of being honest. I want them to understand forgiveness, so I forgive…and I love. I want them to be kind to others…so I am kind. I use situations that our loved ones go through to explain God’s order and the importance of living within His will and being obedient. I want them to always put their best foot forward, so I don’t accept mediocrity. I want them to live for Christ…so I do.

When I am driving down the street and someone cuts me off, I have a choice. I can use profanity and blow that person off the road or I can breathe, slow down, and thank God for traveling grace. The choice is mine to make…but all eyes are on me, and the choice I make affects more than just me--so I must choose wisely.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

On Friendship

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. (Proverbs 13:20)

If asked to describe my friends, I would say that they are those who I enjoy spending time with and talking to the most. They are people who are honest with me even when the truth isn’t easy for me to hear. They are positive, upbeat, optimistic, fun-loving, and God-fearing people. They care about me and would “ride or die” if the situation called for it. They are compassionate and understanding. They rejoice with me when good things come my way. They are not jealous of me at all. I can trust them. I know that they would never do anything to intentionally hurt me. My friends are all goal oriented and constantly seeking to grow into their better and stronger selves. They are driven and supportive and challenge me to be better. I look to them for strength, godly counsel, and wisdom.

I hope they would describe me the same way as well.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)

It took an incident in which I wasn’t the “friendliest” to rock my world and show me the importance of not only having good friends, but of being a good one too. One day in high school, one of my dearest friends asked me to sit next to her on the school bus because she REALLY needed to talk. I don’t know what was wrong with me that day, but I told her that I didn’t want to change my seat and she was welcome to sit next to me if she needed to talk. She looked at me with such hurt in her eyes and I looked past her hurt and turned away. By the end of the bus ride, she hadn’t moved and neither had I. Her heart ached and mine was filled with anger (since that was the emotion I ran to when I didn’t know what else to feel). That day changed our relationship. We went from being inseparable to seeing each other in the hallways and looking the other way.

I later found out that she was dealing with a weighty family situation and didn’t think anyone would understand better than I would. This friend was someone who was usually in a better mood than I was, but in her (rare) moment of need I wasn’t there for her. Why? There was honestly no good reason. When I found this out, I felt terrible. I attempted to apologize a few times after that, but she was too hurt to hear me…

We eventually reconciled years later, thank God, but I missed a lot of opportunities to celebrate her life with her and vice versa because of that one moment when I was too stubborn and too selfish to be a good friend. Me staying in my seat wasn’t worth what I lost.

That situation taught me that being a good friend means sometimes stepping outside of my comfort zone, getting over myself, and being aware of and sensitive to the needs and desires of others. To have friends, I MUST be one.