Not Today…

I’m sure you’ve seen the shirts and cups and stickers that say “Not today Satan”. It’s a great reminder that we will get attacked constantly. We never know how it will happen, but inevitably it does.

Today (as on many days) it’s my back. I went to make myself breakfast and boom, out went my back. My plan today, beyond pumpkin spice pancakes, was to patch some holes in the ceiling at my mother’s house after installing new canned lighting. Not today… the idea of reaching above my head on a scaffold is, well, it ain’t happening. Not today.

But just because I can’t do what I originally set out to do doesn’t mean I can’t do anything. If I allow the pains of life to slow me down, I’ll never go anywhere. I think I probably have some time in bed in my future, but even flat on my back, watch me…

—Rise Up!!

Can You Help?

I got a text this weekend that basically came down to a simple question: can you help me?

It seems such an easy question to ask, but far too often, it becomes one of the most difficult for a lot of us. There’s an admission that I can’t do it on my own. My pride doesn’t really like that so much… it can also feel like admitting failure which also dings my pride. It’s just so difficult to get past the lips…

The flip side is that as reticent as I am to say it, I absolutely love to hear someone say it to me. That feels like a validation of my worth.

This particular request had to do with an area of expertise that I have due to specific training several decades ago (quite literally in the late 1980’s!) I was thrilled to do it and I think it went well.

When you find yourself at the end of a difficult time or task, put down your pride and just ask someone “Can you help?” It will help both of you to…

—Rise Up!!

Sticks and Stones

We heard that sticks and stones can break bones but words can never hurt us for most of our lives, but I have to disagree. Words have power. We saw that this past week. Words can stoke a flame and words can heal.

One thing I know is that our actions have consequences that might last forever. Just because I have not broken the law since I was released almost twenty years ago doesn’t mean that everyone wants to forgive my past or in some cases, even let me move on with my life. But as long as I maintained my innocence, I had no peace. Once I admitted my guilt, healing finally began.

Step 5 says “We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Sometimes we need to put down ourselves so we can lift up others. the simple act of confession and acknowledgement of wrong can suck the fuel from the fire that people feel.

If you don’t know what happened last week you might be living in a cave. There are no easy fixes, and I can only speak from my own experience, but I know that I had to step up and admit my wrongs before I could…

—Rise Up!!

New Year, New You

You’ve probably seen or heard that one a lot over the years. I know I have. It’s a cute idea, but really, the calendar isn’t magical. Why wait until January to make changes? And are you really new because of this changes?

If you’re looking for a new you, I know a great way to accomplish that: Jesus! 1 Peter 1:23 tells us that through Christ we are born again, a brand new creation in Him. The thing to remember is that this is a spiritual birth. Your past will still be dragging behind you like a trailer and a lot of folks will be all too happy to remind you about it.

Don’t let that past drag you down. And if it catches you, don’t wait a whole year to fix things. Every day is a fresh start. Go out there and…

—Rise Up!!

Last Chance

Wow, December 28! This is your MoM’s last chance to talk to you, Dear Reader, before the end of this crazy, wonderful year.

Yes, you read it right, I said wonderful. About 2020? Yes, indeed!

We all know the litany of complaints. There’s no real need for me to trot down that particular memory lane. But listen, we don’t talk much about the year that Polio began, but the name Jonas Salk is famous because he invented the vaccine for the disease. This year we saw numerous vaccines developed to fight COVID.

Lockdowns were a drag in some ways, but we got to spend a lot of time with family.

For many of us, car insurance rates dropped.

If you are reading this, you made it through the year.

What’s my point? What is always my point?!? We need to sift through the ashes and find the silver. Let’s try to expunge the negative diatribe and focus on the hope. It’s a new year soon. Let’s get out there and…

—Rise Up!!

Serious Overkill

Sometimes we have setbacks in life. It’s just a part of the deal. I suppose if you didn’t agree with that you wouldn’t be reading this blog, right? Well, this doesn’t just apply to people.

Last night I was watching my most hated English #PremiereLeague team lose. It was wonderful. Even though my team lost at the weekend, watching our North London rivals lose was a great way to ease the blow. At the end of the game I got a text from my son in law who lives in Hawaii. It seems that the volcano is waking up. Yes, Dorothy, you’re not the only one who is “done” with quarantine! Hot magma has found it’s way to the surface of the crater. Here’s what @USGSVolcanoes on Twitter said,

“Lava is cascaded into the summit water lake, boiling off the water and forming a new lava lake. The northern fissure, pictured, was producing the tallest lava fountain at roughly 50 m (165 ft), and all lava was contained within Halemaʻumaʻu crater in Kīlauea caldera.”

I watched someone’s livestream of the action last night for several minutes and all I could think was “Wow, now that is the way to…

–Rise Up!!!

A Day of Defeats

Yesterday was supposed to be fun. I was all set to watch my #ArsenalFC play and defeat #Burnley in the morning then finish the day with a rousing victory for my #Steelers in the evening.

Not…

The soccer match did not go as planned. We played flat and couldn’t score for another full game. Well, I guess we did score when our star striker put a header into our own net instead of guiding it safely over the bar. My English Football hopes are rapidly seeking the bottom. Right then, on to American football and my Steelers.

More lack-luster offense and a second straight defeat after starting the season with a team record 11 straight victories. It was dismal.

But these things happen. We watch the games to see who wins. Yesterday just wasn’t my time. But that doesn’t mean that the day was a loss. I got to hang out with my grandsons and make gingerbread houses. I got to find out that my oldest grandson is now as tall as I am. My youngest daughter sent a picture of our newest grand baby (arriving July 2021). Things are good. Not all things, but some things. Nothing lasts forever; not the good, not the bad. It all changes with time. So ride out the storms and wait for the sunshine. Maybe even dance in the rain. But above all else…

—Rise Up!!

Getting taller…
This one too!

Let Your Light Shine

I took my Mom to a follow up appointment with her hip surgeon on Thursday. It was meant to be a relatively short trip with a stop for lunch and Costco added into the mix. Leave at 11, home in time for a Zoom conference call at 6. Easy peasy.

That should give you most of the information you need to finish the story…

Everything was great up to and through our lunch. We had to eat in the car because new COVID guidelines, but it was all very pleasant. After a quick side trip to Krispy Kreme we started our journey home by pointing the car toward Costco.

When we hit the front door at Costco, the ball of yarn began to unravel.

The first signal of impending doom was the Mom stopped right inside the door to fish out her list and to put away her card. I gently (honestly!) suggested that she move out of the flow of traffic to do all this, and after a small amount of cajoling, she did. Good job, on with the shopping!

The theme of the afternoon quickly became me trying to get her to not walk down the middle of the aisles. I tried to point out that she was slow (just a couple week on that shiny new hip after all) and that it made for a better shopping experience for all of us if she tried to stay close to one side or the other. She did not seem to agree and kept drifting to the center.

Eventually I decided that it would be a good idea if I put her and her cart in one spot and brought her desired items back to her. I am far more mobile and this method would certainly get us out of there faster. I had plenty of time built into the schedule, but I didn’t want to have to try to be on a conference call and drive that evening. It worked sufficiently in the fruit and produce area, but when we needed to move to other parts of the store, this plan was not as workable.

[Cut to an old woman wander the center aisle of Costco with younger people patiently stacking up behind her.]

Our next item was yogurt. She insisted, I mean really, really, really insisted that it was in the closest cold aisle to us. I pointed out that the two big boxes making the aisle were both freezers and therefore would not have yogurt in them. She let me know, in no uncertain terms, that she KNEW where yogurt was. I offered to place $1000 on each of our theories. She did not find the humor in my suggestion and in stead asked an employee. He told he the same information I gave her, which to her ears sounded better. Yogurt was, indeed, in the refrigerator, nit the freezer.

[Cut to Paul getting more cranky.]

The rest of the shopping devolved into more of the same- me trying to get an 86 year old lady to change the way she’s always done things. One of my favorite “Recoveryisms” is “”Expectations are premeditated resentments.” I should have known better.

Eventually I took a photo of her in the aisle to try and demonstrate to her that she really was blocking traffic. She got mad and told me that “if they want to get by, they can honk.” That was my final straw. I put the box of Clif Bars I was holding into the cart and told her I was done and I’d see her at the front of the store.

Wait a minute, that’s not exactly right, is it? Sure, I put that box in the cart, but it certainly wasn’t a Step 5 “exact nature of our wrongs” kind of telling of the story. I chucked them in there with a bit of pep. It was ridiculous and I’m sure people thought things of me that weren’t really kind.

Now I’m standing on the other side of the checkout counters fuming. No, pouting. Well, I suppose I was doing quite a lot of both!

Now for the fun part…

As I’m leaning against the wall and stewing I see an employee walk by. As he does, he gives an encouraging word to a fellow employee. “Let your light shine…”

Ughhhhh. Jesus smacked me right in the kisser with that one. I knew what the guy meant. Now mind you, he had no idea what had transpired, none whatsoever. He was just telling his mate to be a good person and not let the chaos get to them.

I spent the rest of the trip in silent reflection. Not one word on a 90 minute drive. I definitely knew what I needed to do, but couldn’t muster the gumption. I was ignoring the “prompt” part of Step 10. I left things foul that night when I dropped Mom off, but the Spirit kept working on me all night.

The next day I drove to Mom’s house and gave her a hug and a kiss. I told her that I loved her and that I behaved poorly. I told her that I was wrong.

That’s the job, people. I can never stop working my steps. How could I go up and teach a lesson on amends but be unwilling to do it in my own life?

It’s always best to be prompt, but however long it takes, we can always…

—Rise Up!!!

Again, but Not Yet

So the obvious thing to write today would be something about Thanksgiving. You know, I ate like a glutton then laid on the floor to recover, then I had to find a way to…, yeah, “rise up”.

Nope, not this year

This blog is a way for me to try to share a little hope on a Monday morning. I started it when I was working at my church as a general helper. Times were a bit tough for me on an emotional level, so in order to encourage myself, I started writing these little snippets to start my week and it just sort of evolved. Basically, it my free therapy session to work out my own stuff.

Today, I’m bothered by football. Not the NFL kind, but what most of the rest of the world calls football. My team in England has once again dropped a game that they should have won. We are off to our worst start in the history of the Premiere League. It’s pretty dismal every time we take the field. If anyone needs a Monday morning pick me up, it’s my boys in red, the #Arsenal.

I watch sports because….well, I don’t really know why, but I watch A LOT of sports. I get sucked in and just fall in love with one sport after another. Of course most of you probably know about my obsession with hockey. I’m also all in with soccer, and especially Arsenal FC in England. My grandson and I decided to pick a team in the English Premiere League and we landed with Arsenal. What we didn’t realize is that they were in the midst of one of their worst runs of play in history. Even though they have a rich history of winning, we are certainly not bandwagon fans. We’ve chosen a horrid time to get married to such a team. And that’s what I want to talk about this morning.

I think the reason I like sports so much is that it always gives a glimmer of hope. For whatever reason, most of the teams I support have been long time losers. Most of them have found a way out of the doldrums, if not permanently, at least of a short moment of glory. My #Kings struggled through 47 years of mediocrity before hoisting a trophy. My Clippers are in the midst of having NEVER even making it to a final, much less winning the crown. My Dodgers just ended a drought that began in 1989. Even my Steelers were the joke of the NFL for over 50 years before finally becoming the winning team they are now known as. So Arsenal, for all its history, is a perfect fit for me.

Sure, we just lost ANOTHER home game to a team we should have beaten. Sure, we played ANOTHER game that looked as though our over payed squad was made up of teenagers. Sure, we’ve found ourselves AGAIN in the bottom half of the table. But even through all this I have hope. I know that next week we will face the team that sits in first place, and I think we will win. I feel like our future is just around the corner. I know that our past mistakes do not have to define us. I know that we too can…

—Rise Up!!!

My Wife and Family

I recorded my Thanksgiving episode of my podcast this weekend (messituppodcast.com). I don’t need to break the news that 020 has been a crazy different year to anyone. That being said, we still have things to be thankful about, so I invited a small panel of guests and we went through some of the “standard” questions about gratitude.

The first question I posed was what is your “easy thanks”? By that I meant what are the things that you don’t really need think hard about to identify? As I suspected, this question was pretty simple for everyone on the show, myself included.

For me, it was my wife and family. Regardless of what happens in life, my wife and family have continued to stick by me. It means the world to me and so do they.

Just this past week, actually even less that the week, more like over the past 5 days I have dealt with at least two major emotional setbacks. Each time I was emotionally bolstered by love from my family. I am so blessed. Without their support down the years, I might easily find myself in a hopeless tailspin and a very dark place, but they relentlessly give me reason to…

—Rise Up!!