Relationships

written on an old typewriter

Wrote a letter of recommendation the other day.  That in itself is nothing unusual – I do that often and have done it for years.  I often joke with whoever I’m writing it for that after I’m done I need a bath, or a priest or something.

“I’ve already lost the boots… I’m just trying to save the hat!”

But we both know I’m joking, and that I would never be deliberately dishonest – that would eventually catch up with them and me.

But between that and the opportunity I have to preach this weekend (here, if you are in the Mobile, Alabama area),  I’ve been thinking about relationships.

(Preaching moment:  Your life is the sum total of your relationships… with God, with others, and with yourself.  As your relationships go, so goes your life.  Okay, I’m done.)

This morning I was thinking about that reference letter, and about another one I wrote a couple of months ago.  That one didn’t have to do with a job application, and it wasn’t even requested.  I saw a friend and colleague’s LinkedIn profile, and spontaneously wrote a letter of recommendation for his professional practice.  It was honest, heartfelt, and a total surprise, really to him and me both.

It was also a wonderful relationship builder. [click to continue…]

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Diaper Derby

I never laid eyes on you before.
Never had dreams come true before.
But there’s always a time for a new beginning.
Our multiplied sorrow now is through.
And all of the waiting’s over, too.
And it’s been worth it all, for this new beginning.

And who is like the Lord, who turns my mourning into dancing,
And holds all things together, in His hands?
He whispered, “Let there be…” and He began the world all over.
But this time He laid its future in my hands.
(Unfinished song I started 30 years ago today, when my baby girls were born)

Your life is an adventure in starting over.

You may prefer maintenance mode.  You may want to pretend that you’re in perpetual motion.  You may claim to be too old, too successful, too far along, or too [insert excuse here], but the fact is, your entire life is a collage of cycles and rhythms.

And that involves starting over. [click to continue…]

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Leaving Texas

“What is the secret of your life?” asked Mrs. Browning of Charles Kingsley; “Tell me, that I may make mine beautiful too?” 

He replied, “I had a friend.”  -William C. Gannet

It was 18 years ago this month that I came to this place… this place of tumbleweeds and dust and amazing sunsets and more amazing people.

It was nothing short of surrender.  I had given up on me – the “me” of my own making or imagination, that is.

My friends in Atlanta asked, “Where are you moving?”

“To hell,” I replied.  “If the world was flat, Lubbock would be on the edge of it.”

But oh what I discovered when I showed up as a shell of the man I once was.  Most importantly, I discovered that God was here all the time, waiting so patiently for me to get here. [click to continue…]

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Leadership Light

In the last post I shared six signs of a leader who breathes life into organizations and followers, as opposed to those who have a way of sucking the life out of them.  Definitely worth a review if you missed it.  My guess is, you have probably experienced both types on a personal level, whether it’s in your workplace, your church, or your community.  We’ve certainly seen both types on a global or national scale as well.

What I’m more concerned about, however, is the leadership you show, even if you don’t think of yourself as a leader.  Everybody influences somebody, and you’re no exception.  And all of us can learn from the example of the ultimate life-giving leader, the Lord Jesus.  Here are six more signs of a life-giving leader. [click to continue…]

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Love that Lasts Forever

by Andy Wood on February 14, 2014

in Life Currency, Love

Forever Love Wordle

In his famous poem Desiderata, Max Ehrmann cautioned, “…neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.”

I think he was right.

But I also think I know what makes people cynical about love.

Having stood on the solo side more than 200 times as a man and woman use the most famous words in promise-making – “’til death do us part” – then assemble plenty of substitutes for “death” as the reason love goes awry, it’s hard sometimes not to get a little jaded.

But on this day that we set aside to celebrate love, apparently in all its manifestations, I am thankful to be part of a Kingdom that still speaks of love with the language of forever.  And God didn’t blink, cough or shuffle side to side when He talked about love.

Love is as powerful as death; passion is as strong as death itself.  It bursts into flame and burns like a raging fire. Water cannot put it out; no flood can drown it.  But if anyone tried to buy love with his wealth, contempt is all he would get (Song of Solomon 8:6-7 TEV).

See that?  God gets passion.  But He also understands that Forever Love is more than pleasure, and it’s oblivious to wealth or other distractions.  So what’s so different about this Love that Lasts Forever? [click to continue…]

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Wreck

This is about the time I tried to climb a tree.

In a car.

I did not succeed.

I walked away (literally).  Neither the car nor the tree were very appreciative.

Fayette, Alabama, early 90s. I was minding my own business when…

What?

Oh.  OK. Starting over…

Fayette, Alabama, early 90s.  I wasn’t paying attention.

(How was that?)

I was making the little run from my house to the office – something I did every day at least twice a day.  In between one neighborhood and another was a stretch of about half a mile that was sort of woodsy and country.

And there was this little ditch.

I’d never noticed it before.  But you can be sure I never ignored it again after this day.  The ditch was just wide enough for my right tires to slip right in.  And slip they did.

What I’m describing to you happened at about 30 miles per hour in a matter of seconds.  The car slipped off the road and the wheels slipped into a ditch as if I were in an oversized slot car game.

I should probably point out here that while my car, like most cars, had two foot pedals, I always figured the big one was mostly for decoration.  So like most oops-the-road situations, I didn’t hit the brakes – I just tried to wheel my way back out of the ditch.

That wasn’t happening.

What was happening was the sudden appearance of this massive oak tree. Y’all, it just jumped out of nowhere.  It saw me coming and the acorns went to work. Next thing I knew the ditch forced me to introduce myself to the tree.  I swear I had nothing to do with it.

That what I explained to the insurance company anyway.  They sorta looked at me like I left my brain back at the oak tree.

Anyway, rewinding… still moving along about 25 mph, I kept trying to wheel my way out of my slot-shaped ditch.  The thought didn’t occur to me – not once – to hit the brakes.  So yes, I wound up ramming my car into the tree and actually fender-climbing it a bit.

Nothing hurt but my pride.  Well, and the car, which I never drove again.                                            

This real-life experience has become a metaphor for me for what can often happen in life.  I’ve seen it happen to people’s careers.  Their influence.  Their personal lives at whatever level. Their relationships.  Somewhere, somehow, without wanting to, they hit the ditch.  And they’re stuck, and powerless, and a bit wrecked or hurt, and they’re halfway up a tree and without help, they ain’t going nowhere.

Yes, I’ve seen it happen to me.

Nobody sets out to wreck their lives or loves by hitting the ditch.  But in a state of mass humanization, it can happen – easily – to the best of us.  With a bit of a rewind and post-car-mortem, maybe there are a few things we can learn about that experience. [click to continue…]

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You’re the Inspiration

by Andy Wood on January 11, 2014

in Half-baked Ideas

Footsteps 3

(Sort-of-random thoughts from the Gulf Coast after a memorable Christmas, my first real vacation in four years, and the delicious taste of clarity, vision, and blackened grouper…)

You know it’s time for something different when going through airport security seems preferable to the schedule you’ve been keeping.

Our recent travels have been a nice reminder that all of life doesn’t have to be lived in the bunker – even if you love the people or causes you fight for when you’re in it.

I’ve been reminded lately that life was meant to be lived connected with other lives.  The kind of connections may vary, of course, from lives that profoundly touch us once to love or friendship that lasts forever. Regardless, the bottom line is that “solo” equals “so low” or “slow go” if you stay in that gear too long.

Show me the lives you have crossed paths with in the last 24 hours, and I will show you the lives you have influenced somehow, to some degree – whether you necessarily want to be an influence or not. [click to continue…]

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Christmas LoveIt starts out innocently enough.  You dutifully climb into the attic and start hauling out the boxes of decorations.  Once again the house is tricked out with stockings, twinkling lights, and the scents you save for just this time of year.

You ask the familiar questions: Do we go with same-old same-old, or try something completely new and different?  Are we staying home, or traveling, or both?  Who’s coming and going?  What’s on the calendar between here and there?  And of course, what should be get for [fill in the blank] this year for Christmas?

But here’s the tricky part – other than Black Friday, nobody’s giving you any extra time to make all that happen.  You still have a job to go to (hopefully), 21 meals a week to account for, meetings to attend, bills to pay, promises to keep.

So how do you make it all fit together?  You hurry.  You scurry.  And sometimes you worry that it never quite seems to all get done.

Truth be told, sometimes sacrifices have to be made to get it all in.  And therein lies the rub… because the one thing that Christmas is all about often gets lost in the flurry.  [click to continue…]

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Love Friends Family

For all the ways you may have been blessed
Or tried to bless others,
And all the ways you have received
Or given value in this life,
After all the ways that people measure contributions
Or celebrate distinction,
The greatest legacy you could ever leave
Is that you were loved first, and loved in return.
That takes a lot of grace. And a little bit of faith. [click to continue…]

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Dancer posing in ornate gown

(A Truth Story…)

“Why won’t God just let me die!?” she asked in pained exasperation.

“Because He’s still waiting for you to get saved!” I retorted.

There you have it.  Now you know the kind of stuff Aunt Ruth and I used to talk about.

Aunt Ruth was neither my aunt, nor was she named “Ruth.” I named her that, and was the only person to ever use it. But she seemed to love it. And beneath her crusty exterior and sharp tongue she loved me. Except, of course, for the times she was laughing hysterically at me.  Or trying to teach me one of her “mysteries,” as she called them.  Then she was just being cruel.

Aunt Ruth was wise.  I’ve never had a relationship with anybody quite like her. We could talk about just about anything; that was rare for me in those days. I was a young pastor with an image to create and maintain. Aunt Ruth cut through all that like Sherman through Georgia. [click to continue…]

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