Peppers, People & Patience

I am worse than our boys (9 and 7 years old) when it comes to waiting for plants in our garden to produce. I till the plot, and help pull the weeds. I help rake and hoe the rows. I may even help plant the seeds. Then we water… and wait.

I am always amazed when four to seven days later little plants begin pushing their first little leaves up and out of the soil. And I know it will take a little while, but most of the plants grow so quickly that I get excited. At the sight of that first bloom, I know that a veggie or fruit is not far away… or so it seems.

This year, we planted red bell peppers. We chose to start them from plants instead of seed. And right away, they took root, grew and out on blooms. The blooms have turned into big bell peppers. Green bell peppers. One has grown so large that it began to bend the entire plant over… and yet it is green.

We wondered why the peppers are not turning red, and so we did a little research. What we learned helped me understand the problem. The problem, it would seem, is not with the plant but with me. Apparently, when it comes to waiting for plants to be ready to pick, I am impatient.

You see, basically, all peppers will turn red if left long enough on the plant. But most of us can’t wait. We would do well to wait. When the bell pepper is left to ripen to that full red color, it is sweeter to the taste, which makes it better to cook with… bringing full flavor and beautiful color to the meal. On top of that, by letting it fully mature, the pepper’s vitamin levels increase multiplied times over, making it more beneficial to eat. But you have to wait. And wait. And wait some more for it to mature.

Apparently, when it comes to waiting in my own life, I am again the problem. I am impatient. My Heavenly Gardener has placed me where He feels I will do best for the time being. He has made sure I have the right amount of what I need to thrive. I feel like I’m ready to be picked. But God says, “Wait. You’re going to be even better. Just be patient. You will look better, taste better and be better.”

I suppose we people are a lot like peppers. We require patience to reach maturity and be our best. Maybe that’s why God said in His Word that if we wouldn’t give up, we would reap a harvest of blessing at the right time.

The right time.

For the red bell peppers in our garden, that means waiting till they have actually turned red. For you and me, I’m sure He’ll let us know when we have ripened sufficiently. In the meantime, let’s just hang in there. (See what I did there?)

If you’re not ripe, you’re not ready. Be patient so you can be your best. At the right time, you’ll have all you need to be the biggest blessing.

Get Up Again

The old adage says, “You can’t keep a good man down.”  I think it needs to be tweaked to say, “You can’t keep a godly person down.”  At least that’s what Scripture points out to us in Proverbs 24:16.  I read it again just today, and I love it!

It reminds me of the chorus in the Family Force 5 song, “Sweep The Leg,” that goes like this…

You can’t stop me

You can’t drop me

You can’t block me

You can’t break me

You can’t shake me

Don’t make me

C,mon!  If you belong to Christ, and you’ve been knocked down… get up again.  The fact that the writer of the Proverb said, “a godly person may trip seven times,” is significant.  In Jewish writing, seven was the number of completion… the ultimate.  In other words, a godly person may be completely tripped up by some situation, but they are going to get up every time and end up victorious because they cannot be stopped!

Boom!  There it is… Godly people, don’t worry about what has happened to you.  It may have knocked you down, but it hasn’t knocked you out.  Get up again, and just keep getting up.  You’re going to win!

Now let’s get out there and have a terrific Tuesday, people!

Take Another Step

Talked with a friend today who told of his struggle to blog consistently.  Granted, this guy has more than one absolutely legitimate reasons… not excuses, but genuine reasons… why he has not been able to blog like he wants to.  And I love that he’s bold enough to say he wants to keep going for it.

But he asked me… as have a few others… what my key to blogging six days per week for the past year has been.  And truth be told, this really applies to more than blogging.  It’s really what it takes to be consistent with anything in life.  If I could narrow it down to the three biggest contributing factors, they would be:

1) Make it about something bigger than the action itself.  For me, writing the blog daily was originally about all the people I could encourage, and about me learning to write daily so that I could author books.  Find a cause that gives you a bigger motivation to stay committed day after day.

2) Make yourself accountable.  When I launched my blog, I told a crowd of leaders at a leadership event that I had started a blog and would be writing it six days per week.  And when I started the blog, I announced it to all those who read it that I would write it six days per week.  Now that all those people had heard me say it, I had to be a man of my word and maintain my integrity.  Sometimes, I would be busy and realize at 11:30 at night that I had not blogged yet that day. I would determine that I would write quickly and post by 11:59 because I committed to write six days per week.  Knowing that someone might call me on it has kept me writing.

3) Just do it today.  There have been times I haven’t had anything to write for an entire week, but I would just try to find something to write for that day, and not worry about the days ahead.  All I have to do is check today off the list. Little by little, a little becomes a lot.  Tomorrow, I will write my 300th blog since starting.  That didn’t happen all at once.  It happened one day at a time.

It’s about consistency, but cut yourself a little slack.  Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t always succeed.  Just put one foot in front of the other, and take that next step in the right direction.

One last suggestion… ask God to help you do what you’ve committed to do.  He wants you to succeed.  And He knows how to help you.

Now, having kept my commitment today, I’m going to bed… but I’ll be sure to write again tomorrow with the Lord’s help!

Waiting

Our six-year old, Austin, has lost four teeth in the past month, but this last one hung on the longest. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tooth that loose that wouldn’t let go.  At first, we just knew it was going to come out right away like the others.  And then it didn’t. And it didn’t.  And it still didn’t.

At first it was kind of funny.  We could all joke about it.  But it was a front tooth, and the looser it got, the more difficult it became for him to eat. And the more difficult it became to brush his teeth.  It was becoming more frustrating for him than enjoyable.

He could blow air through his lips and the tooth would flap like a flag in the wind. But it wouldn’t come out.  We even pulled gently on it, but to no avail.  When we tried tying floss around it to get it out, it began to hurt too much.  And yet that tooth hung there like it could flop out at any moment.

We had planned a s’mores celebration when the tooth came out, and we had already delayed it a day or two.  The waiting was becoming more and more frustrating.  It was taking all of the fun out of losing a tooth.  We had gotten serious enough that we were even praying and asking the Lord to intervene and cause that tooth to come out.  Truth be told, I think each of us were tired of waiting.

Then, as the boys were playing yesterday afternoon, it popped right out and landed on Alex’s nose.

There was sudden elation and celebration.  I was just waking up from a short nap when I was informed that I had better light the fire because it was time for s’mores… Austin’s tooth had come out.  We all rejoiced… and enjoyed a round of s’mores.  I think they tasted better because we had to wait for them.  In fact, I think our joy over that tooth coming out increased because we had endured such frustration waiting on it.

You know, none of us really like to wait.  We humans are an impatient bunch in general.  And the longer we have to wait for something… like a healing… or a job… or a relationship… or closure in a tough situation… or for a legal matter to be settled… or for someone to apologize, the more easily we become agitated and frustrated.  That’s our choice, by the way, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

And yet, when the dawn finally breaks over a dark night of waiting in our lives, it seems like our joy is greater.  So, what if we could learn that somehow, and embrace the wait in light of the greater joy we will experience because we had to wait for it so long?

I certainly don’t have that all mastered… just seeing it myself in light of a loose tooth, and believing that my own joys… my own s’more-worthy celebrations…  will be greater and more enjoyable because I have to wait longer than anticipated and longer than desired.  And if more joy is the result, well then, maybe I can hang on a little while longer to experience a deeper, more fulfilling joy… and an extra s’more.

Not Perfect, But Plodding

Yeah, I’m sure you might look at me and say that I have a long way to go to reach my ideals.  I may not always match up to everyone else’s standards of what they wish I was.  And I know for a fact that my everyday life has not quite attained the perfect status which God has already attributed to me through Jesus Christ.

But you can count on this… I’m still working at getting better.  I’ve got room to grow in every area of my life, and sometimes I may only be taking baby steps.  But they’re baby steps in the right direction.

So what if you’re not perfect yet either?  Are you headed in the right direction?  I’d rather see you do like Apple when they come out with a product that is headed in the right direction but still has some tweaking to be done on it. Keep upgrading your life.  Keep loving people… and working hard… and making the most of times with friends and family.

If every day we will make a little improvement, at the end of our lives we will be able to look back and see how far we’ve really come.

Have a great weekend!

A Little More

I can neither confirm nor deny whether or not I tend to want to give up on DIY projects PR31 and I tackle.  Okay, I can confirm it… I just don’t want to.

It’s true… I have great intentions. Then the project gets more complicated… or takes longer than expected… or just ceases to be as much fun as I thought it would be.  The mundane and the minute details set in. And I just want to quit.

“Let’s just stop for now and go to bed.”

“Let’s just leave it at that point and pretend that was the look we were going for.”

Now, to give myself a small pat on the back, I have gotten a little better.  (Or I’ve learned not to tackle as many projects.)  But I’ve learned something from PR31…

At the point I want to give up, I’m much closer to being finished than when I began. And when I realize how much time, effort and energy I’ve already invested, the amount that is left to do seems small in comparison.

It would be like a runner getting to mile 25 of a marathon and wanting to quit. At that point, there is only 1.2 miles left.  If they will just press on, they will accomplish something very few people do.

It would be like tilling the ground, pulling the grass and weeds, planting seeds, watering, feeding plants… and then giving up because you haven’t been able to pick any veggies yet.

This is much easier when we’re talking DIY projects and running and gardening than it is when we’re talking about finishing writing a book… or finding the right person to marry… or overcoming an illness… or finding a job.  When these more serious tasks in life seem to drag on, we can get weary of doing the right things… We can want to quit.

But that’s not the time to quit!  C’mon… you’re further along now than when you began.  You’re almost there! Just a little more!  You can make it! Don’t stop now!  If you won’t give up, you’re closer than you’ve ever been to seeing that dream come true… that miracle take place… that project completed… that relationship restored.

Just a little more!  You can do it!!! He who began a good work in you will see it through to completion… if you won’t give up on Him.

Take a deep breath… get your second wind… get another sip of coffee… and see this thing through!  You’ll be glad you did!

%d bloggers like this: