Categories
Featured Articles Observations

My Quest

Willowtree - QuestHave you looked into the mirror recently and asked yourself “Who am I?” and “What am I here for?” Come on, you have to admit its a change from checking out the love handles and those buns of steel and wondering if you should detour your life to the gym. Let me tell you about my own journey to find out what I’m here for.

Its more than a journey actually, its My Quest! That subtle difference tells me I’m in search of something rather than just going out for a walk and its a word I wouldn’t ordinarily have used except for the gift I’m about to tell you about.

I’ve just completed my first week of a fresh year and I can see that there is still 357 days in front of me but how shall I spend these opportunity vouchers. This afternoon I was asking myself what should I do next. My mind is buzzing with ideas but it seems like I’m sitting in either a waiting room or the transit lounge of an airport. We’ve departed but we haven’t arrived and I want to ‘get there’.

Who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103 v 5

My wonderful, adorable, beautiful and most importantly thoughtful wife has again used Christmas as an event to bring clarity to purpose. In the past she has bought me some poignant gifts like an awesome eagle that stands just over two feet tall and reminds me that we should look at things from on high not the eye to eye level of a turkey. It came with Psalm 103 v 5 in a frame. One year she gave me a pen holder for my desk that featured a globe and plane. It was there to remind me that God appoints and sends with a photo frame and John 3 v 27 John 17 v 18 printed out for me.

God in heaven appoints each man’s work
John 3 v 27

This year Cheryl has reached into my heart and summed up my situation with a simple gift. To the untrained eye this is simply an ornament of insignificant proportions. To me it was a golden link in a chain of understanding. In this gift were entrenched the thoughts of a shared life. She understood my dreams, my tiredness, the sorrow at loss and the hunger for a future still gestating in a limbo of preparation.

It’s a little bit funny that this piece is from the Willow Tree collection by artist Susan Lordi. Over 2012 I had acknowledged Cheryl’s love for the collection by buying her a piece for Christmas, her birthday and our Wedding Anniversary.  It seems that the seed has born fruit and she has now picked an item for me. This piece is a picture of stability, an intensity of dreams and thought and a launching pad for the future. It is called ‘Quest’. Susan says it was inspired by her son and the deepness of a person in study gives me a sense of preparation. Once you’ve read the rest of the blog watch the video of Susan’s work. You will see the makings of my Quest piece in Susan Lordi’s photo.

As you sent me into the world,
I am sending them into the world
John 17 v 18

Quest: Seek, Explore, Discover

On Susan Lordi’s Willow Tree website they give some background to the Quest piece that I have included below. The essence is to look ‘out’ to the future. Anyone who sets out on a Quest will have studied the road ahead or dipped their proverbial toe in the water by reading books, travel guides or exploring websites, photos and videos to create a taste for the adventure. For me there is so much more to discover and I sense the time for departure is drawing closer. So what do I do from here on.

Keep the dream alive

First and most important is that you don’t shelve the quest. I watched ‘UP’ with my kids last night and it was a gentle reminder to keep the dream alive. Mr Fredrickson had a deep love to support his wife Ellie’s desire to go to Paradise Falls in South America. Although the tragedy of the animated story was that Ellie died before they could make the trip. The beauty of the story was a long held dream realised. The depth of satisfaction in getting to a goal is unsurpassable and a rich reward.

Soak up the preparation

While you may feel the time in the ‘waiting room’ or ‘transit lounge’ is wasted remember its only lost if you put your feet up and fall asleep. There are two things you can do in a these times. There is always plenty of reading to be done and that can include websites, audio and video. Absorbing the expertise and experience of others is vital. By talking to fellow travellers either in person or through their recollections, you develop a greater sense of the journey ahead and the path you wish to take. Find someone who can mentor your experience.

Pack the backpack

Now is the time to see what you have and what you will need to pursue this Quest. In the packing you find what you’re missing so that the you will be ready to jump on board the plane, the bus or camel. As you make your packing list, keep the inventory fresh and ask for advice from previous travellers. Remove anything that will weigh you down and look for ideas that can be folded down to save space. All of this virtual packing makes you more efficient for the road ahead.

For me my ‘Quest’ Willow Tree piece is a daily reminder of the road ahead. For you it maybe that you should put a ‘map’ on the wall or an enlarged photo of the dream destination. Whatever the dream, pursue your Quest and I will follow after mine.

I would love to hear of your Quest. Can you leave a comment on it below? Enjoy the video from Susan Lordi as well.

Quest


quest3
Quest was inspired by my son, who is currently immersed in the research and documentation of other cultures. The idea of the figure is to portray that time in someone’s life when he finds something that he is passionately interested in — and begins to pursue it, independently, with no parental prodding. He’s ‘into it’. It’s the love of learning for learning’s sake.  Quest represents when a young person (or really, any age person) is motivated by his own interests and goals.

Quest could be a birthday gift or graduation gift, or a thank you gift to a teacher/mentor who may have sparked an interest in a young mind.

 

Categories
Featured Articles Observations

Facing a Fresh Future – 2013 New Year’s Day

Time Pieces

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
– Albert Einstein

Last week the New Year was knocking on the front door and casually pressing the door bell but today its got the SWAT team out and they’re about to knock down the door to our lives with a battering ram. The good news is with the New Year upon us, the fresh calendar is like a plowed field ready for planting. Don’t look at the next twelve months as a pioneer looks at the uncleared wilderness, rather change your gaze to be like a developer looking at the land his investment has purchased on the most expensive piece of real estate in Manhatten. Today’s the day you take possession and the future is all yours. The year ahead is clear of bush and rocks providing you with flat fertile soil for the planter and a pristine plot for the builder.

Your years before today have bought the land. The time in your pocket and wrinkles on your brow have decided the purpose of the plan. This is a year to transform dreams to blueprints so that the sand of time become concrete for tomorrow. Its definitely a change of mind that can take the same ingredients and decide whether flour and water produces cookies or glue. So what do you plan to do with your next 365 days that we wrap up and call 2013? Have you already written it off as ‘just another year’ or do you plan to fix it on day one with a two line resolution posted to Facebook and call it quits?

“Your Merry Christmas may depend on what others do for you … but your Happy New Year depends on what you do for others.”
 – Unknown

The truth is that like any farmer taking that field and planting for a his bumper crop, you will have seasons and strategy to get the right result. For the builder, an architect helps coordinate a plan, the project or site manager arranges the contractors and there will be a master builder making sure the structure is plumb and true to be a lasting legacy for a family or owner. So start thinking about it and writing down the steps that you can see being the process of your future.

One line doesn’t make a novel so be willing to write the chapters that will set the plot, introduce the characters, create the suspense and celebrate the finish. Pour your heart into this dream but make sure it has substance by committing it to paper. A New Year’s resolution is only a pithy statement lost in the dust of one month’s days. Instead be willing to record a travel diary of what happens by journalling your way through the year and making notes, ideas and comments about the sights seen and experiences absorbed.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1

A key to any building project is to start with a fresh approach. Be willing to walk on to the site with clean sharp tools. Leave the past behind and instead walk out of a period of preparation with new vigor, a strong stance and refreshed body and spirit. Have a look at some of the old attitudes and jaded ideas and ask yourself this question; “If they didn’t work last year, what makes me think they will work in the next?” It should be a wake-up to the old adage that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Don’t be tied down by stakes of dispair and bitterness. Those roots should be removed from your field or building site. They don’t provide foundations, instead they’re a barrier to growth and a stumbling block for your tools.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

One of the benefits of a fresh field is you can plow it anyway you like, until you plant in it. On a new building plot you can align the floorplan in any direction it fits until the foundations go down. Be willing to step into a new paradigm and do things in a way you’ve never tried before. Innovation breeds creativity while survival can grow success from seeds of desperation. Get some sleep to allow the brain to be clear and the heart settled. Clear the heart and physical hoarding areas of your life so that you don’t have distractions, obstacles or the trophies of past hurt and failure haunting you. Instead of being slowed down considering the past, replace those memories on the wall with grander plans of the dreams to be built, the places to travel and victories to be won.

If you plan to conquer Everest,
hoist a Flag not a Tea-towel.
– a Pitchford Passing Thought

The purpose of building is to learn through the process so that each structure that comes after it is grander, sturdier and more suited to its purpose than the last. In doing so you move from apprentice to builder and then on from being someone who builds from plans to someone who creates from dreams. As we look at the next year, its an opportunity to learn, to love and to live. The next twelve months aren’t an end in themselves. If your ‘building’ or ‘crop’ project takes one, two or five years to create, then go the distance. Be willing to journey through  and face the future with a glint not a glare.

Have a healthy sparkle of optimism knowing that even if a storm delays your planting or  the rain stops you putting the proverbial roof on your plan, that still you have a dream written down, a journal of memories accumulated and a host of friends who shared your journey. Take a look at the future and see its freshness, the morning dew on your opportunity and feel the crispness in the air that calls out to you like a morning bird call saying “Your time is now”!

Here’s a toast to the future, A toast to the past, And a toast to our friends, far and near. May the future be pleasant; The past a bright dream; May our friends remain faithful and dear.
– Irish Toast (by Anonymous)

At the close of 2011 I wrote about looking at the year through a rear vision mirror. Like a skipper, the navigation through life is best done by knowing where your starting marker is. While our trail of experience gives us the strength, wisdom and hopefully a greater sense of gratefulness, we won’t have momentum for the future unless our eyes are facing straight ahead, lifted to the horizon and looking for land.

Thank you for reading this post. It means a lot. Please click on the options on the side to share it in places like Facebook and Twitter. I read ll the comments so please write your thoughts below and I will respond.

Categories
Featured Articles Observations

Waiting for the Curtain

Queen of Hearts

Many of us have sat in the audience waiting for the curtain to open. What we may not realise is that behind the hanging tapestry or velvet barrier a hive of activity is taking place. Its the preparation for the performance to begin that sees make-up artists applying the final powder and eye lines, orchestra pits full of musicians are checking they have the score in the right order and the stage manager is knocking on the door of the lead actors yelling “Five minutes to curtain”.

Right now I’m having to remind myself which side of the curtain my life is on. I’m not in the audience balancing a popcorn and coke, I’m backstage waiting in the wings for the curtain to open. I know that years have been put into the rehearsal and that the writer of this script has seen it from beginning to end but when will this chapter begin.

So this is a cathartic journey asking God what he wants from me and trying to still put my little hairy hobbit feet one in front of the other. I know that I’m in God’s ‘company’ and that provides the fellowship and encouragement one needs. A hobbit should never travel alone whether it be with a company of dwarves or a fellowship of hobbits, elves and men.

I’m currently ‘between performances’. Doesn’t that sound cute when I could simply say “I’m Waiting”. What I’m saying is that one door of my life seems to be closing but the next door hasn’t opened yet. I’m asking ‘what next’ and also trying to improve my strength, skills and stamina so that when the curtain does open I’m ready. After all who wants to be caught on stage with a forgotten line or worse with their ‘fly’ down. I sense that God is firmly at work making sure that the stage is set and that all is in working order before the curtain rises.

I’m encouraged that along any journey two rewards seem close to the journeyman. The first is the sense of a new dawn. As you imagine a young traveller waking from a tired slumber it happens as the dawn rays glisten through deep dew ridden grass to gently rouse the sleeper. As the cool of the ground gives way to the warmth of the radiant beams a sense of expectation soaks into the heart. A desire awakens to see new lands, fresh relationships and to embrace what was once foreign as family. It refreshes the eyes, increases the heartbeat and becomes a diet of excitement devoured over breakfast.

The second reward for our traveller is their growth in stature. Many a young tourist has started out with trepid feet and lowered gaze. The eighteen year old on the gap year excursion very quickly realises that Mum won’t be in their suitcase to be the alarm for a train schedule or the washing machine for a clean pair of underwear. We quickly move through levels of independence lifting our gaze and increasing our gate as we walk forward more confidently. As the muscles are stretched we grow upwards and inwards. Our mind finds solutions, our body conquers crags and crevices and our heart learns to stay the charted course when fatigue and passions both seek to sway our resolve with distractions.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6

Its in these moments when we rest at a pinnacle’s view that we realise we are more than we once were. The journey our creator has taken us on has taken a cutting of possibility and produced a life of productivity. I have always enjoyed the sense that God hasn’t finished with me yet. Like the tourist who becomes an adventurer we leave much behind on the path of destiny. There will always be the superfluous dross of fat removed through hard work and toil but there is also the cutting away of things we once thought as wisdom now seen as arrogance. The traveller who is ten days into a mission or is now packing for the umpteenth departure will pack more tightly, stringently and with rigorous intent. Why carry the consumer’s weights of a selfish past? Why move the problems of arguments forgotten to the residence of a future peace?

So I’m waiting, not with fear and foreboding but instead with hope and a sense of anticipation. The senses of my heart are open to hear, feel and see the signs that the stage managers hands are on the curtain rope. A gentle tug, a changing of the lights and a quiet comes over the audience. The best curtain opening of all is at the break of dawn when a new day opens on fresh mercy and grand potential.

Like this song Before the Morning from Josh Wilson; I DARE TO BELIEVE!

Can you leave me a comment below and tell me about the times in your journey where you learned through waiting.

Categories
Observations

Spending Dad’s Cash

A Trooper in the air

;Creative Commons License ;Photo Credit: Kristina Alexanderson via Compfight

I still remember looking at my Dad's collection of LPs (old speak for MP3 embedded on black plastic dinner plates) and thinking I wonder if I can have these when he dies. It’s a strange feeling thinking your parents are really old and wondering if they will 'leave' you anything in their will. My Dad has now sold all those LPs. A few upgrades that included golf clubs and now a growing CD collection have meant that incredible collection of Elvis records along with a few Charlies like Charlie Rich and Charlie Pride will never be mine.

That little confessional story from my childhood also shows the short-sighted nature of selfishness. Even at a young age I was looking at 'whats in it for me'. As we grow we face new choices just like the Prodigal Son that Jesus spoke about in Luke 15. The bottom line was he wanted to spend his Dad's cash before he'd even earned his own. There always seems to be a pinch of laziness that seasons a life of greed.

The youngest son wanted to live it up and felt the Dad owed him. It took quite a journey for him to learn the lessons he needed to face life with a different perspective. Become a kid again for 4min and watch this video. Don't be so focussed on the son that you don't catch some great lessons from the Father and the older brother. In fact the older brother's biggest challenge was his focus on being… wait a minute I'm telling the story when I should let Crossroads tell the tale.

I really couldn't resist this video on the "Prodigal Son" from the Crossroads Kid's Club. Their range of videos available via their Vimeo account is brilliant as a resource for Sunday School teachers and Religious Education teachers. If you enjoy the video why not leave a comment on their Vimeo page by clicking through or heading to their website at Crossroads.

Categories
Observations

Better Days Ahead

This morning I found this video from mate Steve Grace that he has recorded with the Watoto Children’s choir. I remember Steve saying what a challenge it was getting the primary shoot done in the outback. There’s a lot to be said for dusty trails. You need time to get where you’re going and an understanding of the wear and tear it can take on your equipment. If you jump into the trip without this understanding you’ll probably travel unprepared and unequipped. Steve and his team know the bush and so they meet those challenges head on. The right equipment, the right attitude and the perseverance to deal with the occasional equipment failure or weather change get the job done.

These are some of the great attributes of faith. When we walk through life we can be fooled into thinking; “If I have enough faith, life will be sweet”. The wiser road says if I have enough faith I know the journey isn’t the destination. Heaven isn’t a ‘place on earth’. Jesus said he would 'go' and then he would 'come' to 'take' us where he had prepared a place. The catch cry of this video is the line “I Believe”. I love an old line I’ve heard many times. “If faith was easy everyone would be doing it”. Sure we go through the highs and lows, the times of banquets and the times when it feels like famine. Today just remind yourself of those two words; “I Believe”.

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
John 14:2-3