The end of the (school) year has come

school's outAll things end and we have just finished another school term and also the school year. For some it means moving to new schools or new jobs or even a new place to live. Even if we will go back to the same place in September we can look back over the last year and think about all that’s happened in the 12 months which have past.

Like the runner who has run the course and is now at the end, having passed the finishing line, we can have a sense of pride for what we have accomplished. We can also look back and think about the progress we have made, the obstacles overcome, the people who have journeyed with us, the new things we have done, the old things we no longer do, the new people we have met and the person we have now become.

It’s these experiences which have formed us and helped us and will have prepared us for what is to come next. I hope we’ve made the most of the opportunities we’ve had and after a break to recover, I hope we will be ready for whatever we will be doing next.

Interruptions

focussed on readingRain stops play, our baby is crying, the other daughter wants something, the phone rings, someone pops over for a chat, we get distracted by something on the internet in one of its various forms.

We could get so much more done if we weren’t being interrupted all the time. Sometimes it’s outside our control and often it’s our own fault.

I’ve heard it said that one of the main things which prevents us from getting on with, and achieving things is a lack of discipline to stay focussed and being interrupted must be one of the main things which prevents us from focussing.

We need to increase our stamina for staying focussed. In our world of distractions, let’s remember to focus on the person we’re engaging with, the task we’re doing, the book we’re reading or simply the thought we are having.

A firm foundation

Over the last two weeks I’ve written about highs and lows and new beginnings in a world which is constantly changing. I need something to keep my feet on sold ground, I need a firm foundation.

I need something which doesn’t change, that’s constant and can provide a rock which won’t move, a foundation which keeps me strong when the storms come. I’m sure we can think of things which we have which do this for us. At the top of my list are my family and even more so, my faith in God.

Above all, God doesn’t change. The Bible asserts that God is the same yesterday, today and forever, our ever present help in good times and times of trouble. We can rely on God to be our rock, our firm foundation, someone on which to build our lives. That’s been people’s experience over the centuries and it can be ours today, if we put our trust in God, revealed to us in Jesus. I can think of no-one else and nothing else more life affirming, loving and solid on which to build my life.

A new beginning

babyAs I’m writing this we are waiting for our new baby to be born – the moment could be any time now. By the time this appears on the website, I’m sure she will have been born. What a wonderful time, to see a new life enter our world and I can’t help thinking what sort of life she will have. Our 3 year old daughter is growing up in a world so different to the one I grew up in, which was very different to that my parents grew up in. Our world changes so quickly.

Whenever we start anything new, we will always have expectations, hopes, dreams about the future. It’s impossible to predict how things will turn out and what will happen in the future. Those aspects of life which don’t change as quickly are our values. These values can be the same as those of our parents and our grandparents and are often influenced by just those people.

As we grow up in this world which is moving so fast, we need to have the right values which will guide us on the path we will take through life. That’s my hope for my children, that they grow up with the right values. The values which are life affirming, life enhancing and make the world a better place. Values which will help us to play our part in building communities whose hallmarks are love, mercy and justice.

The highs and lows

spain losers Spain winners

I wonder how you’re feeling at the moment. There are times in life when we feel we’re on a high (without the influence of narcotics) and others when we feel at a low point. If we like engaging with sport (as Kick London does), then playing in or following a team can take us to those high and low places. Did your team win the league or just miss out? How is your team doing  in the football world cup? For some, these are very important questions and have a big impact on their emotional state! We have to experience both the highs and lows, we can’t have one without the other – just think of Spain who have won 3 major international football tournaments and are out of the current world cup at the group stage!

I am not a passionate sports fan but I do follow the matches, without getting caught up in the emotion of it all. I’m sure I’m not alone. Everyone has something that they get passionate about and that’s important as it helps give our lives meaning and purpose. But some things are more important to get passionate about than others and it’s the important aspects of our lives which we should get passionate about. I’m thinking of the relationships we have with people and how we care for one another and our neighbours.

I want to be passionate about how people are treated, how we look after those who are neglected and marginalised by society and how I can promote justice, mercy and love in what I do and how I relate to others. That’s something worth getting passionate about.

Boundaries

41GmQAbITwL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_Not the cricket type, which were (very) few in number in the fourth one day international between England and Sri Lanka, with the notable exception of Buttler. I mean the personal type. I’ve just bought a book about boundaries and I’m keen to read it, when I find be time. Perhaps setting some boundaries will help me find the time. Whenever we want to achieve something, especially things which are worthwhile and productive, it always comes down to having the discipline.

We can have good intentions and even the desire to do something but if we don’t have the discipline then it’s likely we won’t do it. I’m not sure how we become disciplined as I’m not very good at it, but I guess it’s the old story of taking one day at a time.

The urgent and the important

to doLast week I wrote about slowing down and having taken a week off and gone away on holiday I feel like I have slowed down. Although it was somewhat difficult chasing after a 3 year old and playing games with her all day everyday.

It also reminded me that what is urgent isn’t always important and we so easily get confused about this, albeit without thinking about it much. Slowing down helped me to realise what is important to me in life and when the pace is slow we notice things we miss when life is fast. It’s like we take in more of our surroundings when we walk rather than drive in the car. We have more time to be … ourselves.

I need to be reminded often about the need to slow down, reflect on what is important and try to focus on these aspects of my life, in between all the jobs I have to do! It’s always worth the effort.

Taking a break from it all

slowWe live in a busy world and it’s easy to get caught up in the flow and be pushed along at the speed of everything around us. I often feel like a piece of wood in a river, trapped in a strong current with no means to slow down.

So with this in mind I make sure there are times when I slow down and stop. In fact I’m writing this a week before it appears on the website and when it does appear I’ll be on holiday, by the seaside, away from the hustle and bustle of normal life.

It’s so important to take time to rest and recharge so we have energy to carry on and face the pressures of every day life. Simple things like going to bed earlier more often, resting our minds as well as our bodies and just trying to do less, saying no to things we might otherwise want to do.

I’m sure I will be a better person in so many different ways if I take time to slow down more often. It’s easiest said than done but we have to start with the intention and we’ll get there in the end, however slowly!

Having the right attitude

heartIt’s not always easy to do the right thing and it’s even harder to do the right thing with the right attitude. It’s one thing doing something because we have to (maybe because it’s our job) and sometimes we do it grudgingly or through gritted teeth. It may get the job done but I’m sure people will detect what lies beneath the surface and discern our attitude.

When relating to people, I’m sure it’s our character and personality, demonstrated in our attitude that people will warm to, not simply the fact we do something for them, however nice it might be. If our actions come from our heart and our heart is in the right place then we will have much more of an effect on people. Our love for them will shine through – not a romantic love but a servant hearted love which always seeks to serve. If we do things in that spirit of service and with the right intentions, then the results will be much more positive and affirming than if we just did it because we had to.

Meeting other people’s needs before our own is a sacrifice as we will have to give up time or the things we want to do or need, but in the end it is of far more value and long lasting.

The power of one a day

molehillsWhat do you do once a day? Go for a run, have lunch, read a paper, check the sports results? We are all creatures of habit and we all have a standard daily routine. Whether we have a paid job or some other job which fills our time, there are certain things which we do once a day, everyday.

If we were to commit to doing a simple act once a day then over the course of a year, at the end of that year  we would have a mountain. That simple act could involve getting fit, losing weight, promoting your business or simply an act of kindness to make someone’s life better. The thing is to do one thing once a day towards that goal, towards that mountain. Many little things make one big thing and so often we are put off by the prospect of the big thing that we never do anything about the little things, which is a shame.

‘Enough molehills is all you need to have a mountain.’ writes Seth Godin who inspired this post: http://sethgodin.typepad.com

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