Friday, March 22, 2013

Lessons From a Bird Feeder

There is a verse in the Bible found in Matthew 6:26(NIV) that states "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

This is a picture right outside my kitchen window. It is a gathering place for squirrels, birds and rabbits (do you see the rabbit on the ground?). There is another finch feeder just out of the picture along with a bird feeder in the front yard just outside the picture window. It really is a cool thing to have by the window while sitting down to enjoy a meal. My kids (3 and 4) love all of the different birds and critters that come. Interestingly enough though is how fast the bird feeder can run out of food. At any given time there will be upwards of 10 birds feeding off the ground or from the feeder. What happens when the food runs out though?

There comes a point (usually on Thursday or Friday) that I have to put on my boots and walk out to the feeders in order to reload them. This afternoon something quite interesting happened. I had a cardinal and a finch swooping down on my head while I was giving them their food. It literally got to the point where I said "you dumb chickens! Don't you know what I am doing for you!?" It was at that moment it hit me like a ton of bricks. A new lesson to be learned in this old scripture verse.

You see, I think the birds would have much rather had the food magically appear. Why? Because it would not upset them. It would mean they could carry on like always without having to take a risk. In their little bird brains they see a guy coming and taking down their feeder and equate it to the idea their food source is gone. Much to their surprise, I am quite confident they are happy to see their feeders go back up with an abundance of food with even more in the garage when needed. They didn't have to ask or beg for it...I simply saw it was out and reloaded it.

Our heavenly Father knows exactly what we need and when we need it. Does this come from a lifestyle of begging and only talking to him when in need? Probably not. It comes from having an ongoing relationship with him. We may see blessings come in different ways that we are not used to and this may cause us to panic. Perhaps we may even swoop down because we do not know what is going on. Thankfully God never says "YOU DUMB CHICKENS! DON'T YOU KNOW WHAT I AM DOING FOR YOU!?" Rather he sees our humanity and still gives us what we need. The beauty of it? Just like this gathering ground for the birds, squirrels, bunnies, etc. all are welcome into this relationship...ALL!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Self Help Naysayers


People get so upset with others when they decide to take care of themselves. According to ABC News over 25% of books sold are “Self-help”. The question I always have is how many of those people are actually putting what they read into action? It kind of is like watching “Biggest Loser” on TV while enjoying your favorite ice cream snack. There is not doubt this trickles into all areas of life (yes...even into churches...more on that in another blog). Self-help can be a good thing but can also be the end of you as well. 

I began to notice this in the summer of 2012 when I decided to lose some weight. It really was one of those moments for me where I just needed to do it. I visited the doctor, got my levels checked and realized I was a couple clicks off from being on the high end of all levels. That was all the motivation I needed to drop some pounds. I literally bought a bike, downloaded the “Fitness Pal” app and began doing something about it. By the time November rolled around, I was literally at my high school graduation weight...I lost 30+ pounds. In January of this year my wife presented me with a new family challenge after watching “Vegucated” on Netflix. She was wondering if I would want to try the vegan lifestyle. This beef eating, ice cream loving guy had a bit of hesitancy but overall I was so ready for a change. After being bored with regular food I was more than happy to explore this healthier lifestyle. I must say that the first week of being a vegan was tough. Now we are in it and I admit that I don’t foresee us going back. I continue to lose weight and feel awesome on this whole foods, plant based diet. Don’t worry...we get our proper nutrients. No need for the endless comments and questions. 

This is what happens though when you decide to do something for you. Be it a vacation, stay-cation, diet, exercise, etc. People get downright uncomfortable around you. If you are reading your favorite self-help book and don’t put a stitch of it into practice...you are fine. If you decided to watch a documentary or read a book and put it into practice...get ready for backlash. Now I must admit there are others who truly admire what you do. There are many more though that speak from other places more than likely on a topic you are researched quite well. When we decided to go vegan we knew many people that became backyard nutritionists all of a sudden. These were the ones that only eat primarily meat, have other health complications and easily outweigh me on a scale. None the less...they are offering us nutritional advice. Yes...we take it with a grain of salt. This happens when a person goes on vacation. In some circles you merely mention the fact that you are heading out somewhere and you will get comments from those who simply cannot or have not gone on vacation for years. Somehow they lash out at you for something they cannot experience.

On Friday, March 14th I decided to reminisce about the days before internet. You know...the days before cell phones where if you weren’t home it was okay. If you didn’t pick up your phone it usually meant you were out. I missed those days and thought to myself what it would be like to relive those times. In regards to social networking, I wanted to remember what it was like before those days. It was simply astonishing how uncomfortable this made people. I literally had to delete my Facebook app off my iPhone and iPad so that I could not get updates. There were a few encouraging notes but for every 1 nice note 2 negative ones came in. This simply proved my point that some people cannot deal with a person that puts up boundaries (hmm...sounds like a book title) in their life. To actually read a self-help book or implement their own self-help idea is utterly inconceivable. For the person that says “yes...I have devotions and take prayer walks” only to be met by someone whose life is so lazy or over busy and get rude comments is the sad state we live in. This is what social networking has done to us today. It has made us into a people where if you are down and out...you will have many friends. If you decide to post positive updates and see the bright side of life...it must be an act. 

Let me encourage you to do what YOU want to do. What are you wanting to do in order to help you be all you can be? Don’t let the naysayers be your Lord and go for what is going to help you. I am so thankful that I did this and quite honestly...I am not sure I am ready to return to the social networking world the same way I left.