40 Days begins today

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. On the Christian calendar, it marks the 40 days leading to Easter. For our Jewish brothers and sisters, this season includes Passover. Both events profoundly changed the course of history. Both included a sacrificial lamb that today should give us all reason to pause. How do we do that in a time when we have high demands on our time? How do we find and recognize the peace of ultimate sacrifice when we have “noise” all around? We have to make a personal decision-we must be intentional.

In the Christian faith, some choose to give up something of pleasure during Lent. I’ve also heard of people adding something positive to each day, like an act of kindness, a donation, or a special devotion. Whether you are giving up a vice or pleasure or taking up a kindness, the goal is to point us to the eternal, to our Heavenly Father, who made the ultimate sacrifice which was also the ultimate act of grace, mercy, and kindness.

Most of us don’t have fatted calves to demonstrate our faith, but we carry with us many other things we can lay at the foot of the cross- pride, control, self-centeredness and the list goes on. But there are tangible things we can do to refocus.

My family is in an odd season of change. Some of it is exciting, while other things are stressful with the potential for good. This season has brought my husband and I to a decision to pray together every day; not just periodically. Our prayers are for today and the future. Just as in the Lauren Daigle song, First, we bring our hearts before we bring our needs. Above our requests, we want to walk in God’s will; to align the will of our hearts with that of Godliness.

Personnally, right now it’s harder for me to sacrifice something than to do something positive, so I will be giving up soda pop. It may not see hard, but I have a Coke Cola every day. Last weekend we bought a case at Costco that will now have to wait until Easter. And my trips to McDonald’s will be limited to a portion of my daily sodium intake allocated to french fries. To sacrifice this guilty pleasure, I will replace some of the sugar with fruit and the caffeine with coffee. Those things are what draw me to a soda. What I will miss is the effervescence of the bubbles, and the sweetness of the perfect mixture that dances across my tongue with every draw from the straw (let’s face it, the only way to enjoy a carbonated drink is over ice and through a straw). So, until April 12th I will not drink any carbonated drinks.

Will this grow my faith? It is a real sacrifice for me, and every morning I will think of it when I’m not feeling the mist from the Coke falling over the cubes in my to-go cup, or I pass by my local McDonald’s; or at lunch when I go looking for another boost of bubbles. When I experience what I’m missing, I’ll say a little prayer, listen, and expect to hear His voice.

This may seem silly, but when it comes to matters of the heart, it’s not. What will you do to recognize Lent? Easter is coming, death has been conquered, it will be time to celebrate.

All the best,

KK


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Are you neat or just a freak?

There are those in this world who keep their spaces neat and tidy and those who are not. I’m not willing to agree with the research that says messy people are always intelligent. They may just be messy and confused-can’t find anything. Although I relate more to being orderly, I wouldn’t consider myself as perfect as this HuffPost article would tout.

Messy versus organized is worth exploring though. What works best for you? A friend of mine who left this world way too early had the gift of hospitality, and did not consider herself a neat-freak. I often wondered how she was always ready for friends to “just come on by.” She let me in on a little secret. Her home was always (or almost always) what she called, “first floor ready.” Her first floor was generally always tidy and ready for friends to come by. When she shared her secret with me, she laughed and said, “please don’t venture upstairs. The kids can be pretty messy and I only have them pick-up their rooms once a week.”

Maybe people are messy because their brains are being used in other ways for being creative or having bigger thoughts. Could their brains be wired differently? But I have to wonder if their space was more organized, would that free parts of their brain for even clearer thinking? One other plaguing question, when does messiness cross over the line toward hording?

Keeping things in order gives me a sense of control. I can tell where things are, and what’s going on in the room. When I walk into a messy space it’s hard to concentrate. Maybe there is too much stimuli for my brain to work well in that environment. Maybe I’m wired differently.

I know that getting organized is one of the top New Year’s resolutions. Are you doing that because it’s expected of you or because you feel like it will help you function better moving forward. Please don’t take this as a judgement, just trying to better understand those who are different than me.

All the best,

KK


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Today is Punxsutawney Phil’s Day

Welcome to #GroundhogDay, or should I say woodchuck day. I won’t get into that debate, call your favorite zoologist. Today, I thought I’d share the scene from below ground.

It’s a cold February morning in Pennsylvania. The air is cool and dank, and really all anyone wants to do is stay in bed; including Punxsutawney Phil Jr. His alarm goes off just before dawn and he hits snooze and rolls over. Before the nine minutes are up he hears a shrill call from the other part of the tunneled home.

“Junior, get up! They’ll be calling for you soon. Today is your day, you need to get up and shower.”

Phil rolls over and covers his furry head. “Why was I born into this family?” Phil Jr. had been pressed into action after his father met an untimely passing with a Mack truck.

Every February 2nd since 1887, the Punxsutawny Groundhog Club has shown up outside their family hole to nudge the eldest male out for a reading on the seasons. “Mom, it’s the 21st century, can’t these guys look at a RADAR or weather app!” Phil yelled back to his mother.

Before he could cover his head again his mother was at the foot of his cubby. “Phillip Henry Junior, you get out of that hole right now. We are not going to be the branch of the family tree to fail our legacy. Now get up!”

“I know, but seriously, they haven’t even changed their outfits in over 100 years. It’s the same top-hatted freaks every time! Maybe if I bit one of them, they’d quit this madness. We’re only right like 40% of the time.”

His mother sighs and sits on the edge of his straw and grass bed as Phil Jr. sits up and rubs his eyes. “Phil, please embrace these few minutes for our legacy and for the community we live under.” She pulls a tissue from her apron pocket to dab her misting eyes, “and for your father, grandfather all the Phils before.” Groundhogs can’t count very well, so once they got to Phil X, they started over with Phil junior’s father.

Phil Jr. swings is feet over the straw bed, “I know mom. I’ll do it for you.” His mother reaches over and places a gentle kiss on his head between his ears. “Thank you son.”

And so the legacy and lore of Groundhog Day continues.


Click to tweet: It’s a cold February morning in Pennsylvania. The air has a dank feel, and really all anyone wants to do is stay in bed; including Punxsutawney Phil Jr. His alarm goes off just before dawn and he hits snooze and rolls over. Before the nine minutes are up he hears a shrill call from the other part of the tunneled home.

No bad seeds

No child is a bad seed. Like the Biblical parable of the sower and the seeds, the seeds fell on different kinds of ground. Depending on the ground, their challenges for flourishing could be big or small. The sower himself (a farmer) had only so much time and resources for growing a crop that would feed his family. He wouldn’t waste his time sowing bad seeds. And so it is with the children in our lives. They come into this world as a bundle of potential. They have an innate desire to be accepted and approved of by others. It’s up to the adults in their lives to bring that potential to reality and build the appropriate confidence that they are accepted.

A small acorn becomes a giant oak tree, but only if it lands or is moved to the right environment. An acorn could fall on a rock, but perhaps someone picks it up, sees the potential and plants it. There the acorn has what it needs to grow and reach it’s potential.

Today, babies are born into a world that is pretty messed up. They are born into rocky soil. Even those who are born into the nurturing soil of solid parents and families have roots that hit hard places and struggle.

While the sowers of these seeds (parents) are the first line of nurture, there are and will be (there must be) other adults that come along who can feed and water these seedlings – guardians, foster parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and even older siblings. We are those other adults.

We are the grown-ups in this world. We have the power to water and nurture the seedlings that we encounter, or we can selfishly go about our lives not considering our power to make a difference.

Like a peace Lilly plant that wilts and then perks up with watering, there is an opportunity to revive those around us who may be on the verge of withering. Keep an eye out for them this week. Kent Pekel takes this message to a deeper relational level talking about the benefits of developmental relationships.

All the best,

KK


Click to tweet: Once the seed has been planted, it takes nourishing in the form of meaningful and honest relationships between adults and youth.


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Listen to your child’s heart

My child has grown. He’s in college and now talking more specifically about what he wants in life — his plans for after college. Let me encourage other guardians/parents that when your young adult child brings up their thoughts, dreams and ideas about launching into adulthood, just listen. We were all young once with the same ideas. In my opinion, the worst thing we can do is squelch their dreams.

By listening and not suggesting anything, we keep the conversation open. When we start interjecting stories of our early adult lives-the mistakes we made, or how some of our dreams got squelched-we take something away from their fresh excitement. Let them dream, keep the conversation open so that when they’re navigating the reality of making their dreams come true, and they hit bumps in the road, they will feel comfortable coming to you for advice or to bounce other ideas around. That’s your opportunity to step in and guide or make suggestions. Easy though, we want to guide them to their own conclusion, not solve the problem for them.

Asking guiding questions can help the thought process of the young adult. Ask open ended questions like, what do you think about blah, blah (fill in with suggested direction). Or have you hear of blah, blah (fill in this place, organization, person who could help). An even deeper conversation could include asking what they’ve learned from the let-down/failure.

As parents there is no way for us to know which of their dreams will come to fruition. So as long as what our young adults are planning is legal, moral, ethical, and leading them toward a productive adulthood, why not let them dream and work toward it. We will celebrate their successes and be ready to encourage when things don’t go their way.

I’d rather have the optimistic young person with goals and dreams who can be guided by some well spoken words of wisdom, than a young person just floating around letting life happen him/her. Seasons of wondering can be very productive as long as they are seasons and not lifestyles.

What are your thoughts?

KK


Click to tweet: As parents there is no way for us to know which of their dreams will come to fruition. So as long as what our young adults are planning is legal, moral, ethical, and leading them toward a productive adulthood, why not let them dream and work toward it.


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Christmas is over

And with that, Christmas is over. It’s back in the box (or boxes) and stored. For some, their semi-annual church-going box has been checked. For others who find Christmas a profound holiday that recognizes an event that changed the course of human history (for the believer and for the non-believer), packing the storage boxes leaves a feeling of conviction to keep the spirit alive. To now think in terms of how not just at his birth did Jesus’ life change the world, but every day he walked this earth. Every encounter he had (with those seeking and those who felt threatened by him) made an impact.

Moving forward in 2020, how can we do the same? How can we give a little of ourselves to those we come in contact with? I have some ideas, but really it’s a question for you to ponder and answer in your own heart.

All the best,

KK


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This is 2020

You’ve been waiting for it, I know. My annual post about goal setting. I’ve been thinking about goals and the things I’d like to accomplish this year. As I’ve shared previously, my goals usually fall into several categories: health, financial, spiritual, and professional. And of course, there are two to three action items under each. Another thought on goals, if you have the same goal for multiple years and haven’t moved toward achieving it, then you may want to rethink the goal. Either it’s not that important to you, or you’ve set a goal that is unattainable, and you may want to set smaller ones leading to the original goal.

I had another 300 words written on goals and things I’d like to change for 2020, but I scrapped them. The message got too bogged down. So, I’ll leave you with this question to ponder-what can you do in 2020 to change something about yourself to improve your life, as such making an impact on the world around you?

Let me know what you decide.

KK


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Click to tweet: If you have the same goal for multiple years and haven’t moved toward achieving it, then you may want to rethink the goal. Either it’s not that important to you, or you’ve set a goal that is unattainable, and you may want to set smaller ones leading to the original goal.