Monday Morning Blues

It’s Monday morning and who wants to go to work? Really, who wants to leave their weekend behind and embrace the repetitive mundane?

Well, that is indeed one way to look at it.

Or, we can adjust our thinking. Why would we want to do that?

Monday is going to happen whether you are on board or not; whether or not you jump in with your game face, or drag in, hauling your coffee with your IV hookup.

The fact is you can choose; what a great gift. You can choose to live with a good, great, or excellent attitude, or you can choose not to. Too much for a Monday morning? That’s why I waited until now to send this.

Choice is a gift from God. I think he holds it as one of his highest values. He must; it is what makes us human.

Don’t give your choice away to someone or something that will marshal it for another cause. You’ve been given the gift, so use it.

Choose.

Choose to live well, to hope strong, to have faith that God has ‘got this’ and knows where you are at, and what needs to happen next.

Don’t settle for being pushed around by a Monday or anything else that wants to usurp your gift.

You get to choose. So, choose by choice, not by default or any other imposed criteria.

We get to make a choice, so, Happy Monday! You are alive and ‘Get to.’

Address the Fear: Metaphor to Real

Two weeks ago, I had the incredible privilege to get some R&R at the beautiful Lake Louise Alberta.

If you are not familiar with it, it is just breathtaking in its winter splendor. It has a multiple of options for people to engage with the outdoors from hiking, skiing and skating to name a few.

My first day I took the 2K hike to the end of the lake, it was flat and level. It fulfilled all expectations and looking back at the hotel made for a stunning, soul rejuvenating view.

The next day I looked for a little more adventure. I decided to make the climb to the “Lookout,” forty-nine stories up according to my iPhone. “You access the trail behind the boathouse,” the barista told me as I was formulating my thoughts out loud.

“Is there any active wildlife this time of year?” I asked.

“The only thing I would be worried about,” she said, “would be the bears, but I think it’s too cold for them now.”

The temperature was hovering about -10c, it had just snowed the night before, and the four-foot-wide path looked somewhat used. It wasn’t entirely isolated. In and up I went.

About halfway up the trail, that had now narrowed to about two and a half feet, barely wide enough for a single person; I replayed the conversation. Yah, I agreed, it’s too cold for bears.  They would be in hibernation, wouldn’t they? I stopped caught my breath and looked around. Snow, dead quiet. I continued up the path.

I wonder if there are any cougars? Quieter. No, noise, just my deep breathing. They stalk. A three sixty look around. No stalkers.

Back to the climb. I wonder if this area has any wolves? Trying to sure my footing, maybe ten seconds from my last thought four-legs and black exploded past me, brushing my leg. My heart and body froze. Now staring me down not ten feet ahead and up from me was this huge black, motionless wolf, with… a collar? It took a few seconds to process what just happened. It was a dog, in the middle of nowhere and it wasn’t wagging its tale. The moment was still precarious, but at least now it was domestic. The dog was up the path, and so we were eye level.

What would you do? Exactly. I talked to it. In a microsecond of time, I remembered my dad’s words, fifty-two years earlier, “Don’t let him know you are afraid.” I kept the lilt in my voice and told it to go find its owner.

It blasted past me again and then it was gone.

A little unnerved, actually, a lot unnerved I kept going to the lookout.

The path had narrowed to about a foot wide and then without warning it happened again, this time it bumped me harder. I was losing confidence that this dog wasn’t just going to be on its way. Still, no owner was in sight. After a few moments of stare-down and lilt(y) one-way conversation, the dog was off down the trail.

Finally, I arrived at the lookout. It was amazing.

 

Here’s the Take-Away.

The devil is not omniscient; he doesn’t know everything. He is only a created being. He doesn’t know what you are thinking. He’s waiting for you to cut and run.

He will try and block your way to beautiful and purpose. He will do his best to make you afraid. He’s been defeated. Expose the lie. Tell him to go home. Find your refuge in God through Jesus. Keep on your journey to amazing!

Address the Mess; Emotional Duct Tape #1

Here’s how it plays out. I have watched this happen over and over.

We’ll call them Darrell and Amanda.

Darrell and Amanda opt to use emotional duct tape.

This time the disagreement is over whether or not Amanda should have bought the new upright Grandfather clock for $683.00 regularly priced at $999.00. Previous arguments have been in the $400.00 range.

It starts by Darrell walking in from work and seeing the new purchase in the entryway to the living room.

As it turns out, this purchase was not planned in the family budget nor was it even on their radar as a discussion item.

Amanda swears by the fact that this is something that she always wanted and that this price was the best price ever, probably never to happen again.

And, so the stage is set:

Darrell – What is this?

Amanda – I know isn’t it the best thing ever?

Darrell – It’s a grandfather clock!

Amanda – I know. I’ve wanted one of these all my life.

Darrell – This is the first I’ve heard of this.

Amanda – Darrell, it was the best price ever.

Darrell – How much?

Amanda – I saved over $300.00

Darrell – How much?

Amanda – I can use my reimbursement from my taxes last year toward it.

Darrell – How much?

Amanda – Just over $600.00.

Darrell – You did this without asking?

Amanda – I didn’t think that I had to ask for my own money. You are acting just like your father. So, demanding.

Darrell – You said that we would talk about our purchases beyond $200.00 Obviously I can’t trust your word.

Plenty of emotion, ample innuendos, and the ‘taping’ begins. Amanda wipes a tear from her eye, and Darrell leaves the house without saying a word.

He misses supper that night and gets home late.

Nothing said that night and the next day there is a strange silence in their home. Amanda knows better than to ask what is wrong and Darrell struggles for words.

About the third day, they start to acknowledge each other in the room, and things begin to calm down.

By the fifth day, things are great, and the marriage is incredible until…until the tape let’s go. Emotional Duct tape actually works, for the moment. The problem happens when used as a permanent solution. It then becomes thoroughly inadequate.

Instead of dealing with the issue in their marriage, these two choose to take the ‘easy’ way. They fix it with EDT and have a solution. Temporary at best.

Address The Mess: Sick! (Next)

Second: See the previous blog

The next thing that became a game changer was that I needed to be sensitive to the nudges and prompts that God gives out for those who are willing to be responsive.

I was prompted in my thoughts, “You were wrong in your dealings with Sam (not his real name) when you told him to get his act together regarding his marriage.”

Years earlier I had lost patience with a dear friend. He was struggling in his marriage, and I had coached and prayed and helped in all ways that I knew how. After many months of doing this I lost patience and just said one day, “Sam when are you going to get your act together?” I was only partway out of my legalistic tendencies. I was still learning how to live free and full of grace toward others.

Moments like this are pivotal, but I didn’t recognize it at the moment.

It was years later in a conversation with God when he brought this up. God had me. Guilty as charged.

I knew my next step was to contact Sam, own my stuff, and Seek forgiveness. I did and was able to grow from this ordeal. I hope he did as well.

It is so easy to fall from Grace. A nuance, a proud moment, a frustrated goal, all can take you into doing things your way and falling away from God’s ability and empowerment. It wasn’t my first encounter and probably not my last.

We need always to be walking humbly with God, Micah 6:8, but it is easy to morph to our own path.

I learned that to have and live a grace-filled life I needed to know how deep my mess went. It was deep.

I learned that we are no different. If left to my own devices, if my background, my family, my life and contextual circumstances were exactly like yours, I would make the exact same decisions that you have made. Every part, every dysfunction, that you experience would be mine and conversely mine would be yours. That is what addressing the mess looks like.

I am susceptible if I try to do life on my own.

I need Gods empowering every bit as much as you or anybody else because if left to myself, I would fall, I would do ‘human’ every time.

So, Grace is God’s empowering for us to do what we cannot do for ourselves. It is the outworking of who the Holy Spirit is in us. If I fall here all I need to do is address the mess, confess it to God, obey him, and once again recalibrate.

Then, only then, I can reach out and be helpful.

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Address The Mess: Not So Perfect Picture

We can assume that it is our job to address someone else’s.

Most of the time that is not the case.

Cruise2017aI recently shared this picture on Facebook, and I love it. It captures the sass and the fun that my wife and I frequently have with each other. One of the comments by someone who knows us reasonably well was that it captures our personalities.

What it doesn’t show is the regular, the mundane, the hurt, and the pain that life can hold and sometimes deal out. It doesn’t show the low moments, the struggle moments, or the confusing moments that accompany every relationship and every life. It doesn’t show the hours of conversation or the short nights that it sometimes takes to work through the mess.

We can naively carry on thinking that others have a perfect life and “If I could only have it like them then things would be great.”

Everyone has snapshots that if captured and presented would represent a moment of bliss or euphoria. I am not so concerned about those moments. Instead, I want to address in this series the other 99.99%.

I can think that life is pretty good. I can take care of ‘my side’ and believe that everything is okay. My problem is that I often start with me and work out from there. However, that may not always be the best measurement, and much of the time it can be skewed.

Even though I can look good in a moment to you, or I can look good in my thinking to myself, I also have the potential to affect others, and that will not always have me in a great light. I struggle like you with being human, with getting it right.

I can even go to the scriptural extent that I’m busy trying to take out a sliver from your eye while I am oblivious to the log in my own.

I need to Address The Mess in my own life. That is where I start. Once I come to terms with how short I have fallen, how much I need, how far I have missed the mark of perfection, then maybe, just maybe I can begin to help someone else.

God provides tons of help and encouragement, but it is only available when I can be honest with myself and real with him.

Address The Mess Series: Emotional Duct Tape

 

I had just turned 50. My wife and family gave me an amazing birthday gift of a Fly-In-Fishing trip into Ryan Lake Alberta, in the Canadian Shield.

I, in turn, bought a place for my son as a graduation gift and we coerced a friend to come with us. The three of us had the lake, lodge and three brand new boats and motors to ourselves for five whole days.

The very first day probably not even an hour on the lake and my brand new fishing rod snapped. Yup? I was angry. I was fortunate in that I had brought an old faithful spare rod.

We had a fantastic trip, and I have tons of stories about it.

The last day we needed to use up our supplies and did I tell you that the friend that I brought was a chef? Let’s just say it was an amazing week, and we ate like kings. But, this last day we had to use our steak, veggies, apples, whip cream and oatmeal. So, Peter made an apple crisp pie and baked it on the BBQ. The only thing I had to do was use the wisp and get the whipping cream whipped.

The whisk was taking so long and not seeming to produce much, so all of a sudden an idea hit me. I call it a Red Green moment.

I had a reel that wasn’t being used, Duct Tape for an emergency and a wisp that could use some torque. Within minutes there was pure whipped cream sitting there waiting to add the fifth star to the restaurant review in the middle of nowhere.

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We laughed, ate, and laughed some more. The only thing missing was our wives, a maître d and a bottle of wine.

Duct Tape is made for a moment of need. It isn’t usually meant for a long-term fix.

It just occurred to me yesterday that we have tried to use Emotional Duct Tape to solve long-term problems.

I want to also explore this in future posts.

 

Here is the connect to my recent book, Path Out-Eliminate the Swirl

(Here’s how you can get a copy. https://philsovdi.com/book-offer/)

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Joseph Series: Family Games

Joseph knew his family’s dysfunction, his brother’s propensity to lie and deceive. He knew that they only lived for their agenda. He didn’t know that it had changed.

Families play games.

My wife and I do, but we do it on purpose, with our kids now adults, and with delightful intent. We’ve done it their whole lives. For the most part, they loved it! How do I know? I told them so. Ha.

It’s the family games that everyone denies that has me greatly concerned. In fact, they aren’t games at all; they could more accurately be called deceptions, family code, and elephants in the room.

You know what I’m talking about. It’s the demand that you fit into your role when you are with the family, the way that you act when your buttons get pushed; and no one can push your buttons like your parents and siblings. It’s the stuff no one will talk about, but everyone knows it’s there. And, you and your family do it every time!

Enter Joseph. Joseph was thirteen plus years removed from the family dysfunction, game, code, and he had to know if the code was still in play. He went to quite some length to make sure things had changed. Joseph tested his brother’s in their most vulnerable spot. He for lack of a better term pushed their buttons. Any future with them, had they not changed, would not have been pretty.

Joseph was satisfied to the depth of his emotions that change had come. What a delightful moment.

Thirteen years had taken its toll on the brothers, on Jacob, their father, as well as on Joseph. The brothers had come to realize that their shameful behavior had cost their family deeply.

They came forward and owned their stuff.

This action gives us an awesome picture of repentance. It was almost that the brothers were getting in line to say, “If there is any blame here it is to fall on me, I’m the one.”

Whether they grew into this or got forced into this through circumstances, they owned it.

In absolute humility they prepared for their fate, they couldn’t expect anything else.

This moment overwhelmed Joseph. I don’t think he could have hoped for such a spectacular outcome. Spectacular happens when such depth and hurt get healed.

So in this story, we see a beautiful picture of repentance and forgiveness. One is not complete without the other.

So this begs the questions?

What do you have to own?

What do you have to forgive?

Joseph Series: Invent Your Future

So many times I get caught in maintenance mode. I wake up to realize that I have been just plugging the system of …whatever.

The other morning a blog by Seth Godin caught me completely by surprise. He talked about people are trying to predict the future, trying to be in the right place at the right time. He then went on to say, “A far more successful and reliable approach is to invent the future. Not all of it, just a little part. But enough to make a difference.” (May 27, 2017, “Seth Godin’s Blog on marketing, tribes and respect.”)

That caused me to do a double take.

Precisely that is what happens every time someone believes in himself or herself, God, a promise, or future, and then they step out and invent that part of their future.

Joseph did that. I’m reasonably convinced that he didn’t sit there in prison and say that he was inventing his future, he just hoped in, believed in, and acted when he had the opportunity. Joseph believed that God was for him.

How about it?

Joseph did, now it’s time for you to invent.

Me too!

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Joseph Series: Forget About It.

To my knowledge, there were no counsellors or emotional support groups when Joseph needed them most.

And yet, Joseph managed to process his stuff and come through in an emotional healthy condition.

Remember:

Rejected

Beaten

Stripped of identity

Discarded

Sold

Purchased like a commodity

Given a break (of sorts) ‘Minor’ success, perspective

Lured trapped and accused

Left identity once again

Stripped again of identity

Plunged deeper

Prisoner

Dream Catcher

Dream interpreter

2nd in command

Joseph did something in his day that clearly spoke to his mental health and showed that he properly and thoroughly processed.

He had two sons and spoke of his life through their names.

1) Manasseh – forget – “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” (Genesis 41:51, NIV)

2) Ephraim – twice fruitful – “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” (Genesis 41:52, NIV)

He had this figured out still years before he met his family again.

I find this story amazing and an abundant source of hope.

How about you?

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