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Straight and Tall

Walking along the Vliet (our local canal), into town this week, we remarked to each other “Oh look – they’ve planted some young trees!”
Our attention was drawn to the new soil, the intricate support structures, including the heavy banding, the strong poles, all put in place to help the tree grow straight and tall.
Each of these simple anchors will provide the tree with strength to withstand the winds and storms, that in time will surely come.
My mind started to make some connections.
Monic and I have spent the last two days in Utrecht and Antwerp.  We met with 90 young missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, currently under our care and watchful eye.
In a like manner the young trees are very much like our young missionaries.
Our two days of nurturing, instruction, and tender care were all designed to provide support for each one of them, just like the young trees, to grow straight and tall.
Like the missionaries, each of us may struggle to grow straight and tall through the storms of life.

Storms

None of us are immune from storms.
Said the writer of Proverbs, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6.
Our young missionaries are sending their roots deep into the soil of the gospel.  There they are nurtured with love, and the enabling power of the atonement of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
I know that these young men and women with our prayers, love and support will accomplish wonders.
Jesus Christ strengthens us to do and be good, and to serve beyond our own individual desire and natural capacity.
He is my anchor.
A few simple anchors will provide the strength to withstand the storms that will pass your way.
When the storms of life approach, what anchors you?

Lessons from Juggling….

“Can anyone juggle?” I asked.

A few raised their hands and I invited them forward.

I gave them three balls each and asked them to show us how.

Admittedly, they were a little rusty, but after a few attempts, the basics returned.

“Who would like to learn how to juggle?” I asked.

A few raised their hands and I invited them forward.

I gave those who could juggle the assignment to teach those who came forward how to juggle.

The challenge – they had only two minutes to show them how.

After their time was up, the novice jugglers showed us their rudimentary skills.

The result – it wasn’t very pretty, with balls flying everywhere – but it was great fun!

After a few attempts, one even managed to complete a cycle of three balls through the air.

The Lessons –

  • Learning takes practice.
  • Growth and Development takes time.

As we grow older and develop in life, we have to learn how to juggle many responsibilities. Frequently, it can take lots of practice to get things right.

That day, I gave a new set of juggling balls to the willing learners.

Pleasingly a week later, one by one they told me of their significant improvement in their juggling skills.  Each of them had taken time to learn the techniques of throwing and catching a ball. They had practiced with 2 balls and then ultimately juggled with 3.  With lots of continuous practice, 4 balls won’t be a problem either.

Learning something new?  Don’t get too disheartened and throw in the towel too soon!

Remember, practice and time are key principles in our learning, growth and development.

Growth Rings

Every human being is also a human 𝒃𝒆𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒊𝒏𝒈.
A careful study of the growth rings of a tree, always tell an interesting story.
Look carefully, it requires some close inspection.
Discovering whether any particular year provided a favourable or unfavourable period of growth, is easy to identify.
Some years, there is quite a bit of new wood added.
In other years when growth was unfavourable, only a small fraction of that amount was added.
Similarly – stop for a moment, reflect back and consider how your own life, is like the history of a tree.
There may have been years of great spurts of new growth where favourable conditions allowed you to flourish and develop.
In other years, unfavourable conditions, and experiences, may have reduced the amount of development and growth.
Wouldn’t it be fascinating if we could see our personal growth records as we are making them in our own lives, just like trees do?!
If we could see that record, perhaps we’d be much more motivated in our daily choices and decision making to make our growing conditions more favourable year on year, thus producing a fair amount of new wood.
I may be prone to say, “Yep, 1983 I was at my best” or “1992 was a challenging year.”
How can we keep our lives under better control?
For me, keeping a regular journal, maintaining regular study habits & routines, plus setting stretching goals, really helps to maintain a growth trajectory.
As a human 𝒃𝒆𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒊𝒏𝒈, what do your yearly growth rings look like?

Baby Steps

𝑨 𝒋𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒏𝒆𝒚 𝒐𝒇 𝒂 𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒔𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒎𝒊𝒍𝒆𝒔 𝒃𝒆𝒈𝒊𝒏𝒔 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒂 𝒔𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒍𝒆 𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒑 – Chinese Proverb.
Arriving in a different country, understanding a new culture and an unfamiliar language can be overwhelming at times – it certainly isn’t an instant process!
It has been over 26 years since Monic and I have lived in the Netherlands and we are already noticing how so many things have changed.
That said, one big thing that I have already learned is the value and importance of taking 𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒔𝒎𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒃𝒂𝒃𝒚 𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒑 𝒂𝒕 𝒂 𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆.

The first few steps

Tentatively, we have taken our first few steps of exploration in and around our local area. It is so beautiful, with lovely scenic walks and the people are so friendly.
Meeting with each of our missionaries one by one, has been an absolute joy.
For the first time yesterday, I was able to travel from one destination to another in the car with only a little help from the GPS. Driving can be especially challenging, especially due to the high volume of traffic and the proliferation of cyclists, everywhere!
Sitting in meetings where the language is completely Dutch no longer feels quite so painful or complete gobbledygook.
Slow, but sure, steady progress.
I have found that many of the happiest and most successful people I have encountered in life have achieved their level of life and work success by taking small baby steps, and then making one positive choice after another.
Positive new habits and routines are created incrementally, one baby step at a time. Indeed, it is through the process of change, that we discover who we really are. Patiently and carefully I am learning to lengthen my stride, one little baby step at a time!
What is a small, first step you can take and implement now in the changes you are facing in life?

Becoming

Changes in life have been many recently: good and bad, sudden and progressive, minor and major. Many have dealt with being furloughed, losing a loved one, or being isolated at home. Dealing with change is an inseparable part of life’s journey.
I recall some years ago learning a story about little acorns. Just like a giant oak tree produces little acorns, so an acorn may 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲 an oak tree. But, not all acorns become oak trees, only those who break through their hardened shells and reach for the sky.
Similarly – in these difficult times are you reaching upwards, moving forward, seizing opportunities for new experiences and growth. Or are you wallowing in the mire of self pity, and like some little acorns, forgetting what you can become?
This time of enforced solitude is a tremendous opportunity for self reflection, learning and growth.
Little acorns have all the qualities of giant oaks, they just need time to grow. Opposition, challenge and difficulty are part of growth. It takes time, effort, perseverance, set-backs will be inevitable and adaptation certain. This is the process of life.
Don’t forget “The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping stones. Laugh at them, tread on them and let them lead you to something better.” Enid Blyton
In these challenging times, remember who you are and what you can become.

Harvesting

What we sow, is what we reap.

Anything of great value and worth in life, takes persistence, patience and perseverance, as well as great attention to detail in order to ensure a great harvest.

Growing anything takes time. With any crop the process of fertilising and tilling the ground, planting seeds, weeding, feeding and regular watering will eventually lead to a great harvest. Sometimes bad weather can damage or destroy crops too and so a great deal of preparation is called for in order protect the harvest. I’m always amazed that one tiny seed, can multiply itself so many times over to produce a bounteous harvest.

So it is in life.

As a coach I work with people who are faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges. And yet, over time as we work together in planting new seeds, or work through a process that takes persistence, patience and perseverance – these challenges start to diminish, simply through the law of the harvest – reaping what you sow. Frequently, its never easy, in fact, its often difficult to face up to the challenges. Yet, with hard work and effort, I wholeheartedly believe, that through time, with the right help and using the correct tools, all of our harvests can be great ones, no matter how tough it may seem.

What will you sow today?