Thursday, January 31, 2019

Respect and trust do matter!

I know that at times I get annoyed with friends that ask if they can borrow money only to know ultimately that I’ve given them a gift. What’s even more upsetting is when this individual totally gets upset when they are asked to pay it back. The bigger picture in life is that to make a difference in the life of a friend, neighbor or even a stranger I have to be willing to give and not expect anything in return!

As I share this story about twins that are ten years old it’s a heart-warming example of how respect and trust do matter. I was asked by one of the twins if I would help them get new school ID’s that cost $10. I only had a twenty on me, so I gave it to them. Usually, when I help in this manner, I do expect the remainder to be returned, even though often it’s not. So, I was presently surprised that one of the twins told me that they had the other $10 to return. It was over the weekend that this happened. So, I was expecting them to maybe spend the money on junk food. Yet, this didn’t happen, so I said it was ok for them to split $5 and then give the other $5 to any of the homeless that usually are outside the new large Circle K in our neighborhood. 

I was so jazzed that these twins understood that for me to trust them again with money that they needed to respect my wishes with the money. I know that trust is something that takes time to actually earn from a new friend or re-establish with an older friend. I’m so fortunate to have so many volunteers or interns that walk with our kids and teens. One of my newer friends who volunteers, Gelila, is an incredible young woman who shares her passion about real life with our group. She recently shared about how important it is to stand up to stereo types and not allow prejudice or racism to push you to act in an inappropriate fashion, where you live as others expect. 

What’s incredible, is because she has hung out with our kids and teens, she has gained their trust and now they respect her voice! Sadly, too often people assume because of their stature or age that others ought to listen to their opinions or voice. Yet, until I have gotten to know someone and see whether they are trust worthy this determines my ability to have a transparent relationship with them. 

I know that after grad school in my young 30’s I would often get frustrated with older men who were leaders that wouldn’t respect or give my opinion a real consideration. As I have aged, I’ve come to see that part of the dynamic of trust and respect is that it works both ways. I can see how as a young leader, looking back, I was a little arrogant or too self-assured which did push away my older friends and their ability to hear me. 

I know that respecting a person’s privacy, space, possessions and views is so important. It’s too easy to slam someone too quickly because of my personal biases being on the opposite end of the spectrum. If I desire to befriend someone who does have a different life expression, I must be willing to listen and learn from them to gain their respect and trust. This isn’t going to happen if my purpose in listening is just to have a quick come back to put them down. 

I was so appreciative of these twins’ expression of gratitude when it comes to their response to help. I was humbled when the one texted me and said a big thanks and complimented me for caring. 

WOW – respect and trust work! 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

How can you love your neighbor if you don’t know them?

Society has changed so much over the last generation, where the average person moves so often, that there isn’t any rationale behind getting to know you neighbor. I admit that as a kid with a dad in the Air Force I moved 22 times in my 17 years of living at home. As an adult I have lived in San Luis Obispo, San Diego twice, San Francisco area twice and now Phoenix for almost 25 years. The big picture even being a long-term Phoenix resident is that we have lived in 5 different neighborhoods during this time. 

Sadly, I have to admit that even though I consider myself a neighborhood or community worker/activist type, who has a passion to see our community improve and make a difference, that it’s very difficult to know your neighbor when they aren’t interested in talking. My only contact with one of our neighbors is when they complain about someone parking on the street close to their house. My other neighbor, who is an older Hispanic couple, are incredible and have become friends. 

One of the simple factors in seeing our society change, improve and impact the world is when we become intentional about getting to know those who are around you. Yet, because we have become so transitory in nature, few view getting to know your neighbor as a priority because you will clearly move in the next year or so. I know that a few of our neighbors are shocked that as a renter we have invested in our house with the look of WHY would you do that? It would appear from the outside that we are home owners who do care about our home and our neighborhood. 

I know that God’s heart for mankind is for all of us, that includes both you and me, that we take the time to meet and get to know our neighbors and those around us at Fry’s, Starbucks, McDonalds or the laundromat. I’m always impressed with what transpires when I take the time to listen, learn a person’s name and then hear their story. I intentionally sit at my Starbucks a few times a week to write but also to connect with my friends. I was startled this week when Rick, a friend from my larger Starbucks neighborhood, actually honked at me. He got my attention and I sadly discovered that his mom had recently passed. 

I know that I always enjoy listening to Stephanie, a young mom with 3 daughters and a baby girl, who sits in the same spot if I’m later in the morning at Starbucks. She knows all about my family and involvement in the neighborhood. I discovered recently that the house being built that’s on our way to our canal to walk the dogs is her mansion. It’s a huge house on a couple of acres. 

So, what has stopped many from taking the time to invest in getting to know their neighbors or greet those they see almost on a daily basis? Fear of the unknown, cultural differences or being safe and taking a risk someone might stalk you and break into your house? I was surprised this weekend to be in a local park with our grandson to see twin 7-year-old girls on this large playground area all alone. They were quick to play with our Hudson and quickly share their stories, listen to us and then answer questions. 

I’m always impressed by how quickly kids make friends and include you in their lives. Why is it the case that adults can be so standoffish and at times almost rude if you’re perceived to be too forward in attempting to make a friend? 

My mom was the one who rather forced me to see strangers not as potential enemies but friends. I have memories as a kid being dragged around our new neighborhood being introduced. Clearly, my mom understood that everyone would live for a couple of years max so the sooner we connected the better we all would be. 

The amazing story behind understanding the practical way to love God has always been to see how His love is both horizontal and vertical. It’s rather easy to say I love God but yet the proof of my love of God is seen in how I treat my neighbor and intentionally choose to get to know them so I’m able to love them. 

So, think about loving God through loving your neighbor and then being able to love yourself! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Life even when you’re old?

One of the more amazing aspects of life as you age is the fact that you choose how you live! There isn’t anyone telling you how to act, what type of mindset to have or how to dress. I’m always energized when I’m around kids and teens. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about adults. How is it possible for someone who is still relatively young to act as if they are old and ready to check out of life? I have a few grandmas who put me to shame by how they are able to make their lives special and meaningful at 87. Go grandma Bernice, Doris and even Hattie! 

I get it that making New Year’s resolutions is a great way to begin change. Yes, talking about dieting, saving, spending less and doing something that counts is so important. Yet, isn’t it possible to live this way 24/7 and 365? Do we have to wait till December 31 to make significant changes part of our DNA? I’m always taken back as to why end of the year giving is such a big push? Isn’t it possible for those who are committed to give all year round to see the day to day needs of an organization or an individual who has real needs? 

We have some dear friends who stayed with us over the Christmas break that have two kids. I think our friends were rather suspicious as to whether their two would be bored out of their minds staying with Anne and Dave. The jury is no longer out both kids can’t wait to come back to see our herd of dogs, parrot and fish. The bigger pic was that I got them hooked on playing with my little robot, Sphero with their dad or mom’s iPhone. Yes, it’s possible for the old to live like they are young and even for the young to realize that their grandparents can actually be COOL!

 One of our more recent holiday traditions is now going to the Zoo over Christmas break with our grandson, Hudson. Soon it will be with a larger group of grandsons that will number four! What was so much fun was to race around the zoo with my little friend screaming out grandpa, grandpa, come grandpa. I’m so thankful to be young at heart and be capable of chasing or running around doing crazy stuff with my grandson!

What was even crazier was our choice on New Year’s Day to visit Odysea Aquarium. The crowd was incredible. It was such a delight to see all of the different families watching the various fish, penguins, Otters, Cockatoos and even the Sloth. I’m so grateful to have a wife who is adventurous and willing to get up, get out and do something special! Can’t fathom what life would be like sitting on the sidelines. 

The more important picture in life is the realization that spiritual renewal can happen on a daily basis. Yes, I can experience new life, even at 65, as I acknowledge that I’m a new creation in Christ and my life has meaning, significance and purpose that is incredible. My hope and optimism in life isn’t based upon the stock market, political parties but upon a God who created a fascinating universe. The amazing truth is that God created me in His image where I can grasp that life has meaning because of the purposeful life, coming and ultimate sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ. Yes, it’s possible to be born again, even in your old age with your rebellious nature. 

I know that not all little kids are fearless and that at times I too have to admit that I’m a little cautious when it comes to pushing it to the edge. Yet, being able to breath in the fresh air after a rain or today it was actually scrapping off the ice on my Anne’s little car was transformative. So, yes make your New Year’s resolutions but also discover that real gift and blessing of living each day to it’s fullest. 

Celebrate the New Year and each day as a gift from the incredible God who created life!