Archive for February, 2011

“PERSISTENCE”

February 25, 2011

 

FROM THE WISDOM BOOK:

“In the confrontation

between the stream and the rock,

the stream always wins–not through

strength but by

perseverance.”

—Dad ( H. Jackson Brown, Sr)

When we were vacationing at Deer Valley Ranch near Nathrop, Colorado, one of our favorite adventures was whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River.  We were usually there in July but the water in the river was pretty cold (34 degrees).  When we were not being bounced around by the rapids, the scenery was really beautiful.  There was always calm water between the rapids so not only was it quiet and peaceful…it was beautiful.  I have often wondered how long it took the river to create the deep cuts in the rocks to make the canyons and gorges that are quite a sight to see.  The water in the river is persistent.  The rocks aren’t really a problem for the river.

There have been many occasions in my life that called for persistence.  I remember when I was building Lyndsey’s entertainment center.  It was all finished.  All of the sawing, sanding, staining, finish, and hand rubbing was finished.  All of the parts had been put in their place.  The doors had been mounted and I was installing the last door catch.  I was really having problems getting in attached in just the right place.  I sat and squatted for a couple of hours working on the problem.  Pam kept telling me to take a break and rest.  But, I was persistent.  The first time I stood, I could hardly walk…my legs were hurting due to the position I had been in for a long time.  But, how could I give up.  Time was getting close for us to take the finished product to Kansas City.  Well, persistence paid off…it usually does.

When I was studying for my CPA exam, I set aside study time each day (or night).  Whatever else happened, I was going to study each day.  I passed the exam not because I am so brilliant.  I was persistent.  Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never, never give up.”

There have been other occasions in my life which called for persistence, but I won’t bore you by listing them here.  I know that each person who reads this post have faced problems that called for persistence.  While we are persistently attacking a problem, one important thing is to look at the problem and find the opportunity that accompanies it.  I believe there are no problems that are not accompanied with an opportunity or blessing.

I will leave you with that thought as I get to the reason I began this post.

We will be faced with problems, both large and small.  The best way to attack a problem is prayer.  Persistence is very important, so persistent prayer is a real winner.  There are three types of prayer in attacking a problem.

*  Logistical prayer:  We pray logistically when we ask God for the small things:  “Lord, help the computer to work as I write this post.”

*  Tactical prayer:  We pray tactically when we pray for more meaningful things, but still not for the ultimate:  “Lord, help me to say something meaningful as I write.”

*  Strategic prayer:  We pray strategically when we pray for the ultimate purposes of God:  “Lord, may You be glorified today and may You raise up disciples for Your Kingdom.”

The more persistent we are in our prayers, the more they change from out needs and become directed to God’s ultimate purposes.

 

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“BIG EVENTS”

February 23, 2011

 

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Chance Wheeless, first baseman for the Texas Longhorns hits a walk-off home run as the leadoff batter in the bottom of the ninth inning with the scored tied 3-3 with Baylor University.  Chance was a sophomore and was playing with a very painful shoulder injury.  Many will remember the home run, but few will probably remember the pain of the player.  IT WAS A BIG EVENT!  The end result placed the Longhorns in the Championship Series of the 2005 College World Series and they defeated Florida for the Championship.  In college baseball that is  BIG EVENT.

A player who hits a grand-slam home run participates in a BIG EVENT.  He will be remembered, but what about all the smaller things that had to happen to set this up.  At lease three other players had to do something to be able to participate.  They had to be on base.  They either got a hit, walked, were hit by a pitch, safe on a fielder’s choice, or there was an error.  Who will ever remember these players who were just on base?  I doubt that anyone will remember what happened regarding the opposing pitcher, catcher, and their team mates.

Many times when we witness a BIG EVENT, we don’t appreciate all the things that seem to be insignificant.  But, if we pay attention to the small details, we really get the whole picture of what happened.

We see and participate in many BIG EVENTS in our lifetime.  My marriage to Pam was a big event.  It was really something to remember.  But we were not the only ones involved.  It took others to make the event happen.  And it took the help of others in the planning and carrying out of the ceremony.  Who will ever remember those small things that led to the wedding?  They were necessary, but we mostly remember the wedding ceremony itself.

We tend to plan and expect the BIG EVENT to happen and don’t realize how important the smaller things are.

I was studying my Bible the other morning and read about Elijah and his confrontation with 850 false prophets.  He stood his ground and witnessed the Power of God.  Then, he fled because he was afraid of Jezebel.  To get to my main point, Elijah ended up at Horeb, the mountain of God.  While there he witnessed a strong wind that tore into the mountain and broke the rocks in pieces, but the Lord was not in the wind.  Then there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 
Then there was a fire, but the Lord was not there either.

Elijah was looking at the BIG EVENTS because that is where he expected to find God.  Then God spoke to him in that small, quiet voice.  How many times do we expect God to be in the BIG EVENTS of our lives and miss out because He was speaking quietly to us.  Maybe we just spend our time looking rather than listening for His voice.  The answer to our problems may not come to us as a BIG EVENT…just a small voice and we missed it because we just were really listening:

“ACCIDENTS”

February 18, 2011

 

 

 From the Wisdom Book:

Excellence

is never

an accident

—Dad (H. Jackson Brown, Sr.)

Pam and I are headed to Austin this morning for “First Pitch” of Longhorn Baseball.  I was reading an article in the Austin Statesman this morning about the returning infield for the Horns.  They will all be back.  Last season the horns led the nation in fielding with only 31 errors in 569 innings (.980).

This was no accident.  To achieve this is a matter of teamwork with everyone being on the same page.  When you really become a team, your focus is such that you not only anticipate where your team mates are, you know where they are.  Playing baseball is really not as simple as some people believe….nor is it boring.  There is also a lot of trust involved.  When one player fields the ball and makes a throw, he trusts that when the ball arrives at its destination the other player has arrived to complete the play.

This is no accident.  It takes many hours of practice.  When the team is focusing as one, they respond to where the ball is hit rather than react.  Their response is based becomes as natural as walking.  It is a response to what is happening at the moment. 

So it is with life.  I have always believed that to respond is positive and to react is negative.  When we encounter problems, we can attack…that’s positive.  If we react to the problems, it is if we don’t know what to do.  It is much like fear.

So, our response to what we encounter, is based on our trust and faith in God.  We must remember that God is sovereign over all things…He is in control.  So our response is faith-based.  We know that we are on God’s team and the deeper our relationship is with Him we can have confidence that our response will be right.  Just as a baseball team needs to have a relationship that is based on practice and time spent together, we must spend time with God and the team He has put together.

Whereever you find excellence..it is no accident!

“THE 70-20-5 PRINCIPLE”

February 16, 2011

 

 

 

 

Some things seem to come easy for each of us.  I decided to become a Certified Public Accountant when I was in the sixth grade (age 11).  Why?  My mother sat down with me and explained all the professions to me and that’s when I decided on accounting.  One thing that’s important in accounting is solving problems.  I am a problem solver and I sometimes wander off into outer space or never-never land when a problem needs solving.  A problem is exciting to me…others may consider them in fear.  Years ago I had a real big problem on an audit.  I was unable to solve the problem when it was discovered, but that night I dreamed about the solution and when I returned to the job…it was the right solution.

My favorite hobby is woodworking.  I enjoy making wooden bowls on my lathe.  Each bowl presents the problem of what it will look like finished.  Most of my bowls are made from wooden sections glued together…different sizes and different types of wood.  To solve the problem of what it will ultimately become, I let the wood speak for itself as the turning tools shear away the wood.  I also build furniture and the most exciting part is converting a picture from a catalogue or other source into plans for the project.  This is the problem that needs to be solved and I relish in getting the right measurements for the plan.

I still mow the grass in our yard.  I bought a lawn tractor a few years ago and it’s much less time-consuming to get the job done.  I have over two acres to mow, so it takes a while when you consider weedeating, mowing, and emptying the grass catcher.  I do a pretty good job at yard work, but I am no perfectionist.  There is no problem to solve in doing yardwork…it’s just routine.

On occasion, there is a need for “shovel-work” around the house.  There is no real problem to taking a shovel and moving dirt until you have a hole.  It is usually just hard, back-straining work.  It’s not exciting and for sure not very high on my job skills.

I was studying King Solomon the other day.  Solomon, as a great leader, played to his strength.  Great leaders don’t spend vast amounts of time attempting to b a jack-of-all-trades.  Instead, they deepen their ability to do what they do best, until they do it as well as anyone.  King Solomon was given great wisdom and that was the strength he played to.

In the lesson, this was called “THE 70-20-5 PRINCIPLE.” 

*  Give 70 % of your time to your areas of strength.

*  Give 25 % of your time to the areas you want to improve.

*  Give 5 % of your time to the areas of your weakness.

At first I thought this principle was ridiculous.  But after thinking about it for a while, I realized that our strength areas are gifted to us by God.  They are to be used in such a manner that He will receive glory.  Through our strengths others are blessed.  So, after a little meditation, it makes perfect sense to me.  How about you?

 

“LONGHORN BASEBALL IS ALMOST HERE!!!”

February 2, 2011

Two weeks from this coming Friday will be time for the “first pitch” of the 2011 Texas Longhorn Baseball Season.  Pam and  I begin planning for the next season as soon as the College World Series is over…or maybe even before that.  There are a lot of things to get done before the season begins each year.

As soon as the schedule is published, it is time to make reservations for the  entire season, so I have already received confirmations for my favorite Austin hotel beginning on February 18 and ending the latter part of May.  Pam and I have been staying in the same hotel for a number of years and they maintain a profile on us, so we usually stay in one of our favorite rooms.  We have become accustomed to certain rooms and really feel like we are home.  The hotel staff also make us feel at home.

When we travel, Pam usually paints her fingernails.  Between here I-Phone and painting fingernails, she keeps herself occupied.  I’m not a big talker when I drive, so she is able to keep herself entertained.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely silent for 260 miles…I talk a little.  I always talk as we come into Huntsville.  I say, “Are you about ready for Starbucks?”  See, I say the  really important things.  I also ask where she wants to eat when we get close to Bryan/College Station.  This is also very important.  Of course, I also ask if she is ready for a “pit stop.”

On one of trips to Austin last spring I thought it might be nice for Pam to have a portable table to use for fingernail painting while we are on the road.  I suggested it and she thought that was a great idea.  After a little thought and planning this is what I came up with:

 

So, what do you think?  We took a little test run (adventure) last Saturday afternoon.  We went to Livingston to try a restaurant we heard about.  It is called “Florida’s Kitchen.”  They specialize in Down Home Cooking and it was great.  We had BBQ ribs….mmmmm.  They also served shrimp and they looked delicious.  Of course they serve a lot more, but those are two of my favorites.

On our “test run” I found the table needed a little tweaking.  So, I took care of the necessary adjustments on Monday.  Now, we are ready for the spring baseball season.  I think I had a great idea…what do you think?

If you ever need your spirit uplifted a little, do something for someone that brings them pleasure.  If you really want a lift…be obedient to God and do something that gives Him pleasure.  Our Father takes great pleasure when we enjoy the things of this world that He provides.  It is not a bad thing for Christians to take pleasure in things The Creator provides.  So, have a great day and do something unexpected for someone else.

“HABITS”

February 1, 2011

Habits are something we all have, many of them are actions that we take for granted and do without thinking about.  Sometimes, habits can be very helpful.  For example, we were not born being able to walk.  We had to  learn.  We fell and practiced until it became a habit.  So it is a great thing that we don’t have to learn to walk each morning when we wake up to start the day.

I have many habits.  Some I will admit to and  some I won’t.  I carry a comb and handkerchief every day and have for many years.

Don’t laugh at the condition of my comb.  I haven’t used a comb in many years so it doesn’t matter what the teeth look like.  I just must have the comb in my left back pocket in order to start my day.  The left rear pocket for men is usually where they carry their wallet…that is why there is a button on the pocket.  A wallet is reasonably safe in this pocket, but so is my ugly unused comb.

I don’t carry a wallet.  I carry a money clip that also has pockets for credit cards, driver’s license, etc.  That  belongs in the left front pocket along with coins and pocket knife.  I believe my money is safer in front where I can not only where I can feel it, but also see anyone trying to pick my pocket. 

The handkerchief is kept in the right rear pocket.  The only time I use it is to clean my glasses and when someone needs one at a funeral or any other sad/happy occasion.  But, I am lost without my handkerchief. 

The front right pocket is reserved for keys only (house and auto).  I do, however, carry my cell phone in this pocket also.  It is to never go in the pocket with credit cards and hotel key cards because the battery does peculiar things to magnetic strips.

These are habits and I consider them good habits mostly.  Without even thinking about it, I know when all my “stuff” is not in its proper pocket and this makes for  a very bad day.  The good part of this  habit…I always have my money and never get locked  out of my auto or house.

I travel the same route to work each day and I guess that is also a habit.  It’s not that I am unconscious and don’t really remember driving to work…I just don’t have to concentrate  on each turn, traffic light, or stop sign.

So, habits are good and  habits are bad. 

Bad habits are negative behavioral patterns such as PROCRASTINATION, FIDGETING, OVERSPENDING, and NAIL BITING. 

An example of PROCRASTINATION is putting off a high priority action for a low priority action.  FIDGETING is moving about restlessly.  This can be good in one sense…fidgeters tend to be slimmer and have a hard time gaining weight.  OVERSPENDING many times is a relief for other problems.  NAIL BITING is an impulse control disorder.

There are some things you need to know about habits.  You were not born with your bad habit, you learned it and you can unlearn it.

You have practised doing your bad habit to the extent that you are good and skilled at it.  But, now is the time to stop and  become good at doing something else.

If you believe that you can and you believe that you can’t, you are right.,  Remember you get what you focus on.  If you focus on how hard and difficult it is to break a habit then that’s exactly how it will be.

The best way to break a habit is to first imagine yourself having conquered it.  Take the time to act out in your mind you being in total control.

Remember, success is often on the other side of failure, so you don’t have to get everything right the first time.  If you make a mistake and back slide, then learn from it and move on.

Be patient and give yourself the opportunity and the time to change.

If you are really, really, serious about breaking a bad habit, I can recommend where to go for help.  We have a God who is always there and only wants the very best for us.  He has already promised that He will never leave us.  We don’t have to wait and use Him as a  last resort…He is ready today!