My thoughts on how I will grow in 2024.

It is that time of year.  We watch another year disappear and ponder on what the new year will bring.  We think about things we didn’t achieve in 2023 and commit to being better about it in 2024.  All of us focus on how we can make ourselves better people our regarding health, relationships, or in our work lives.  Let me share with you how I plan to go about it this year.  That way, you all can hold me accountable as the year progresses because we all need to encourage each other.  Jodie Berndt writes, How we walk through life together—for better, for worse—comes with the power to influence our communities, our churches, and our children, including future generations.”

Like a good presbyterian, I am going to focus on three ways I hope will make 2024 a year where when I look back, I can say that my life was changed and therefore, like Jodie, I helped positive difference in the world around me.  I encourage you to consider one word on which to focus and build your year around.  Here is the link to use if you have never done it before.  As I went through this exercise, two words, Content and Prayer, rose top of mind.

In the end, I chose Prayer because I want to have a more consistent and strategic prayer life allowing me to draw closer so I can better understand what the Lord’s will is for my life.  If I am successful, I am pretty sure contentment will occur as well.

Secondly, I will memorize and regularly meditate on with the intent of impacting others with the Fruit of the Spirit listed as Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.  If these characteristics can be made evident in my life, others will hopefully see that God is taking more and more control of my life. These fruits will be produced because I choose to honor Him in all that I do.

Finally, my goal is to visually put on the armor of God so that along with my focus on prayer, I can become strong in the Lord and experience His might power so that I might stand firm when adversity comes my way. Each morning I hope to I will mentally buckle the belt of truth around my waist and make sure God’s breastplate of righteousness is in place.  I will make sure my feet are fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace and that I don’t forget my shield of faith and helmet of salvation.  I will pray for the Spirit to produce the above mentioned fruit and use God’s Word as my sword when I encounter those who want to question the reality of my faith.

My hope is that my 2024 One Word PRAYER results in a bushel full of spiritual fruit being produced in my life.  I will go out mentally dressed in the armor God has given me. If I do all three, 2024 will be one that I draw closer to the Lord allowing me to experience the abundant life I have promised.  My prayer is that you too, will seek to find your own way in 2024 to pursue the One who wants the very best for you.  

Happy New Year to you! Thanks for reading my blog. I would love to hear from you. My email is [email protected] Please subscribe if you haven’t already so you can receive email notifications when new content is posted.

Beauty can be created by one or in many.

Leaving a grandchild’s soccer game yesterday, I heard one child yell out “good game” to a couple teammates. Those two then did the same to other team members. I over heard one child saying, “Dad, did you hear what Russell said? “He said I played a good match”. The dad replied, “and he was right, you did!” I was struck by how one little 6 year old saying “good game” became infectious and resulted in young boy feeling affirmed in how he had played.
This lesson is the perfect example of what I wanted to write about. As I was writing last week’s blog about the changing colors and the falling leaves another thought came to mind.

I noticed this tree all by itself in a yard while playing golf. Like the young boy saying good game, this sapling was already creating such beauty in the color of its leaves. Adjacent to the next tee box, was a forest of more mature and taller trees resplendent in their color. One little tree can impact us but the power comes when one tree becomes another and then another until we CAN actually “see the forest through the trees” Many different types of trees in all sizes, shapes, and colors providing a canopy for God’s painting that causes people to travel far and wide to see.

photo credit Mike Plecker

I want to challenge each of us as we move into this “Month of Thanksgiving” to be like the little tree or the young soccer player. Commit to an attitude of gratitude. Write it on a post it note and place it on your mirror. Something like what I wrote 40 years ago when I started in real estate. “Lord, let my life make a positive difference in this world.” Let’s all begin to create our own forest of people that were encouraged by us in a way that they started encouraging and empowering those around them. Like the old campfire song reminds us, “ It only takes a spark. That’s how it is with God’s love. Once you’ve experienced it, you want to pass it on” Little did Russell know that he not only lifted up his friend with his encouraging words but impacted this now 69 year old as well. That is how it is with God’s love. As you experience His love, you will find yourself becoming “thankful in all things” 🙂

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I know it is easy, but, don’t wish away a season.

I am not sure where or who taught Dottie and me to not wish away a current time in our lives. It could have been when our children were little and as her Mom shared with us “the hours of the day now crawl, but the years will fly by”. Or was it when we moved from the “physically tiring” stage of life into the “emotionally exhausting” time of having teenagers? ? We have all had them haven’t we? Think about time or times where you couldn’t help but say, “once we get through this or that trial or ideal, things will be much better?” If you are like me, several come immediately to mind; including my bout with Guillain Barre and now 9 months of Covid19. So, As we enter into the last couple weeks of Advent, remember the waiting is to be intentional. A time to reflect and prepare ourselves for what God wants to do with us through His son Jesus.

Christmas reminds us we have a loving Father and a wonderful counselor who wants the very best for us. It doesn’t start tomorrow or in the future, it starts right now. We have a choice, every day, to give him thanks. And with a heart of thanksgiving, we realize that no matter what we face, God doesn’t just work to change our situations and help us through our problems. He does more. He teaches us in those moments to prepare us for what lies ahead. He changes our hearts so that we might become better. This 3rd Sunday of #Advent2020,
take time to stop, wait patiently, and expectantly to celebrate the tiny baby who God allowed to change the world. May we prepare our hearts so that we receive Him in love and then go out to serve with hearts full of compassion. This is a time to reflect on the fact that the Mighty God and Prince of Peace has that same compassion for us.
How do we not miss out on what God wants for us right now? Try not waiting 364 days each year for Christmas or Thanksgiving to say thanks and give gifts. Instead, have a thankful heart and the Christmas spirit every day so that you have no regret on how you spent a season no matter what came your way. After all as Eleanor Roosevelt so aptly put it, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift..That is why it is called the Present.”

During this Advent Season, as you wait, work on Making your Present Perfect by keeping God in every moment of your day.

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Mother’s Day. How does it answer the question, “What does it mean to leave a legacy?”

What is a legacy? A great question on this Mother’s Day. 

We had our virtual lunch with some friends yesterday on our deck. So weird how we sat at opposite ends of the table with them bringing their own food, drink, and utensils. Yet, it was good for my soul after almost 9 weeks of self-isolation. The sweet catch up conversation took us to the question of what does leaving a legacy for others really look like? Can one actually leave a legacy? In a couple/three generations, will anyone remember anything about us? It makes you understand why some contribute financially or with their time so that their name goes up on a plaque or on a building. This thought process could lead to discouragement wondering does my life really matter?

I choose to see it differently and hope what I write here will help you do the same. My hope is my legacy will continue beyond those who actually knew me via the result of the ripple effect of how I served and made a positive impact on others. I think of the book, “The 5 people I meet in heaven” by Mitch Albom, where when Eddie dies he encounters five people who had a significant impact upon him or who he influenced while he was alive. The point being our actions (positive or negative) can have a lasting and hopefully eternal impact on those around us.  Psalms 145:4 – “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts._ Deuteronomy 6:6-7 “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Both taken a bit out of context but help make the point 🙂

My Mom, as well as my Dad, left their wonderful legacy not only with their 6 children but 9 grandchildren. Unfortunately, the now 8 great grand children and future generations will not have the joy of knowing their good and their bad; their strengths and their weaknesses.  Those who knew them felt the joy of being loved and instructed by them. The Guthrie 6 and our spouses as parents or as aunts and uncles will continue to teach the lessons that Papa and The Bup taught us. It is a responsibility we take seriously and that brings us pleasure. That is what legacy looks like to me and for that I feel blessed and find myself thankful on this Mother’s Day. [email protected]

Tips we learned on how to visit well.

As promised in my last blog post, Here are a few lessons Dottie and I learned about visiting a patient. 1) Visitors make a huge difference in helping the person and those who are caring for them not feel like they are alone. 2) If the person stays on your mind, take the time to reach out. Don’t think they have so many others coming by they did need you to come. Case in point, I visited someone today and I was the 1st person who had come. If you are unsure, check in with someone close to the patient to see if they are up for visitors. A particular day might not be good but they can tell you a date and time that works. A side note-having someone as your gatekeeper really helps. That way you don’t have folks coming by when you are tired or just needing a break. Most patients are encouraged by visitors but get worn out because they oomph themselves up when others stop by. Creating signs to put on the door is a great idea. Signs like; “Michael is sleeping, please come by later” “Michael is at PT/OT having tests, please try and come by another time.” “2-4 is rest time, please come by after 4”. Have a note pad on the door so folks can you let you know they tried to visit. 3) When you visit, look at your watch and only stay 10-15 minutes. Keep it short and make it about the person who you are comforting and the people there to care for them. Think of the word LAP. Listen, Ask questions, Pray Do not be one of those people who talks about what happened to you or over stays your welcome. Ask, “would it be OK if I stopped by again in a couple of days?” “When is the best time to visit?” I had a few folks that wanted to know when my PT was so they could come cheer me on. Another side note-If you have procedures out of your room, make sure you have someone set up to accompany you to other parts of the hospital. It meant so much to me to have someone there especially during the times I couldn’t move. There were times that whatever they did got finished and then I would wait alone for as much as a half an hour. I always wanted someone there waiting with me. 4) Don’t feel like you need to take a gift but if you are so inclined, here are some things people did for us that were pretty cool.

  • Get to the hospital a bit early and buy a gift card to the cafeteria/coffee area. Give it to the patient so that family members who are staying with them don’t have to pay when they need something to eat or drink
  • If you know several folks who know the patient, take up a collection and buy a GrubHub card. That way, they can order food from outside the hospital.
  • Buy bagels and coffee for the hospital staff who are taking care of the person.
  • Buy a bunch of snacks that can be left in the hospital room. This is great for those who are staying at the hospital and again for those who are caring for the patient. See previous blog post “it only takes a cookie” 🙂

Things happen for a reason and Good Things can come from it. “All because of a cookie”

Romans 8:28 New International Version (NIV). 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

Karen Scott writes, ” Sometimes, just a few minutes of time and attention is all the gift another person needs. Sometimes, you get the opportunity to communicate with another person that you value them, that they matter are important, that you hope that their lives matter in light of eternity. Never doubt that a gift of your time and attention is valuable. You can hold it in your hand or choose to give it away”

I am a staunch believer in “the ripple effect” of life. As the title of this post suggests, I also believe things happen for a reason and “there is a silver lining in every cloud”. My journey through adversity via my battle with Guillain Barre Syndrome did nothing to dampen that belief. Why? My family and I experienced 1st hand people choosing to give away their time and attention so that they could encourage and support us. My life has also been made different by GBS. As I have written before, I hope I will always remember the positive things that have occured because of this now almost 8 month recovery process. Out of the dark clouds of what was a significant health challenge came new friends, deeper existing relationships, a renewed commitment for taking care of myself, and stories about other people’s lives being made better because of how we inspired or cared for them in some way.

Here is one little tiny story of how the Lord used my illness and the offer of a cookie- Taken from an email from a friend. “One day, there was this Christian man at a local Health and Rehab facility, being cared for by a friend who was a CNA.  This man with GBS offered her a delicious cookie, she asked who made it, you mentioned the name of a friend . . . and shooting stars went off.   :-)))  This patient didn’t know about a long relationship between the CNA and the cookie maker. However, one VBS evening at Abundant Life in July, when I was looking for more children to round-up, there was the CNA and we had a big hug and quick reunion-style chat about meeting the Christian man, the cookie, and reconnecting with the person who chose to take the time to make cookies for the patient.  She also happened to mention proudly that her daughter loves to read the Bible and loves to read it aloud to her!  Wow, so encouraging . . .  so the twins did do a few nights of VBS and loved it.”  The email went on to say it didn’t stop there. My friend asked the CNA, “have you ever thought about sending the twins to a Christian school?” . . . She was interested, but cautious about what it would cost……

Fast forward a few more weeks and only a couple of brief texts . . . and suddenly, God brought it all together and there were enough scholarships left at a local private school for both of the CNA’s daughter to enroll! 

The moral to this true story is, if you get the chance, don’t hold back the cookie, your time, or whatever else you can offer. Instead give it away and be time and time again amazed at how your gesture will be turned into good many times over.