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“It made my day.”

Travelling has been a constant for us this week, with nights in Apeldoorn, Eindhoven and Gent.
We have met with lots of missionaries and young adults, held many interviews, given several presentations, and spoken in many meetings throughout Belgium and the Netherlands.
It has been a wonderful week and just a little busy too!
Despite all our busyness, one of my favourite moments of the week came, as Fernando Cervantes and I slowed down and took a walk in Apeldoorn on Friday morning.
As we started off on our walking interview together, we took a picture and recorded a voice message for Zachary Stoner and sent them off to him.
It was a silly little thing, but pausing for a moment, it just seemed like a fun thing to do.
It was Zachary Stoner’s last full day in the mission field and he and Fernando Cervantes had just been companions in Groningen together.
He responded to our message with “Thanks for sending that, it made my day!”
Choosing to slow down, just for a moment can make all the difference.
Seemingly insignificant small and simple things can and often do, make a huge difference, especially when practiced regularly.
One of my favourite scriptures is “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10)
It takes practice to be still, lots of it!
And I still have much to learn.
Yet, choosing to slow down, really helps!
“We would do well to slow down a little and focus on the significant and truly see the things that matter most.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
I am really thankful that we slowed down and felt the joy of that little moment together.
What can you do to slow down and enjoy the present moment?

Medium…

𝐖𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐣𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐲 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐨𝐝𝐚𝐲?
Monic and I love to take walks through Leidschendam.
The length of our walk is generally determined by the amount of time we have allocated to exercise in our daily routines.
We have identified three routes.
Short – 20 minutes
Medium – 40 minutes
Long – 1 hour
Our morning conversation usually goes something like this.
“Is it short, medium or long today?”
Yesterday, we decided the “medium” walk was in order.
We then put in the necessary effort to make the journey.
As usual, we enjoyed our walk together.
Talking, observing, laughing, sharing and planning.
Regularly we are surprised how very few people we see out walking.
Oftentimes, we will complete our walks without meeting a soul.
Yesterday we especially enjoyed seeing and hearing the green parakeets. There were about 10 of them and they like to make a lot of noise.
In addition, we loved seeing many little ducklings.
Slowing down allows us to see, feel and hear different things.
It is during our walks that I notice many simple moments are filled with a sense of connection and peace.
Why is that we miss so many moments in our own life?
Is it that there are always more busy thoughts that preoccupy our minds?
It’s time to slow down.
Where will your journey lead today?

Slow Down.

Did you miss anything?
Every day, I try to learn a new Dutch verb and place it in a sentence using the different tenses.
Today’s verb was “haasten” – to hurry.
For a short moment, as I practiced the tenses out loud, I laughed a little.
One of my key messages over the last few months, including yesterday, is the complete opposite – to 𝐒𝐋𝐎𝐖 𝐃𝐎𝐖𝐍!
We often move too fast.
One route into our home here in the Netherlands, brings us along a road with several speed bumps.
For the optimum experience, I have learned that is it best to reduce my speed, slow down and steady my course.
It is a simple, but critical lesson to learn.
We all know the uncomfortable consequences of a high-speed journey over a speed bump!
I have concluded that speeding up isn’t the answer.
And so, it is with life.
Choosing to slow down, over obstacles and challenges in life is the answer.
In addition, for a much deeper examination of a course of study or to give consideration to a particular challenge, spend a little more time exploring by slowing down.
It will in the long run allow you to speed up elsewhere.
It takes effort.
Sometimes great effort, to catch ourselves and slow down.
My experience… slowing down helps to prevent you from missing anything!
How will you slow down today?

Cullen Skink

“President, you look a little tired, you should take a 10-minute nap!”
She was right.
These last few days, with the really hot days and sticky nights, I hadn’t slept too well.
And yesterday, it really started to catch up with me.
Arriving home from the office around 4.30pm, I lay down on the bed and didn’t take just 10 minutes but enjoyed nearly a full hour.
It was bliss.
Walking downstairs and into the living room, Monic said…“Feeling better, are you ready to eat now?”
A few moments later, a hearty bowl of Cullen Skink soup was served up for dinner.
Monic loves to make it. And we love to eat it!
Cullen Skink is a traditional Scottish soup made of fish (traditionally smoked haddock), potatoes, onions/leek and cream.
It was absolutely delicious.
The nap rebooted my brain!
The soup rebooted my body!
Refreshed, Recharged, Revitalized and Ready to go – the evening turned out to be a breeze.
What happens when you take a nap?

Under Pressure?

Under pressure? Feeling stressed? A lot on your plate?

Usually, our first thoughts are to dig deep, work harder and grind through the challenge at hand.

Top Personal Coaching Tip – 𝐏𝐮𝐬𝐡 𝐁𝐚𝐜𝐤!

……And counter those feelings with an opposing action.

It’s a simple thing, but remember to take a break for 15 minutes or longer.

Take a walk, stretch, meditate, breathe, relax, get some fresh air, in other words slow down and be still.

Enjoy the scenery!

I did!

Allowing yourself some mental and emotional freedom from all the pressure, with meaningful slacking time, 𝒂𝒍𝒘𝒂𝒚𝒔 has great rewards.

Oftentimes, that’s when the laughter kicks in!

Learning Patience

Almost daily, I pass this traffic light as I set forth on any journey out of Leidschendam.
More often than not (it seems to me) it is red, just like you see above.
Recently, I had an experience, that I’m sure many may be able to relate too.
For those of you who know me well, I have a propensity to be prompt!
Early one morning last week, as we were setting off just a little late for interviews in Rotterdam, we got halfway towards this light and then realised that we’d forgotten something in the house. A quick turnaround, and then we were back on our way.
To get to the motorway, there are four sets of traffic lights that we encounter.
The first one above, is a bit of a bottleneck, as it leads to a narrow bridge where only one vehicle can cross at a time, hence the set of traffic lights at either side. That morning, it was at red. After a few minutes of patiently waiting, we crossed the bridge
100 metres further, is traffic light number 2, at a T-Junction. Again, it was at red. We waited once again for a couple of minutes before it turned green.
Turning right, we travelled another 200 metres and approached traffic light number 3. What a surprise, yep…red again. It was another minute or two before it turned green.
Turning left, I approached the final set of traffic lights at a major intersection with lights galore. My light was of course red – it had to be! By this time, I’m feverishly watching the lights to see when it is going to be our turn to move. 2 minutes felt like forever.
Four red in a row…. ☹
One interesting fact, that morning, we were the first car (in a line of cars) at every light, meaning that on every occasion we approached the traffic lights that morning, they had just turned red!

The lesson! 😊

I think I have finally (I hope) learned that it is not the traffic – it is me!
Over the years I understand that it is not what happens in your day that makes you mad, it’s who you are and how you handle what happens in your day that makes the difference.
Patience means actively waiting and enduring trials well.
Delays help me with one great lesson – 𝐏𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐬 𝐩𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞!
The Apostle Paul gave the purpose of patience in his epistle to the Saints in Rome, in Romans 5:3-4 we read; “We glory in tribulations … knowing that tribulation worketh patience. And patience, experience; and experience, hope.”
I believe that being patient is a divine attribute and for many of us it may take many years to develop fully.
We should learn to be patient with ourselves.
In what area of your life do you struggle to be patient?

Look Up!

Look Up!
“I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward” – Charlotte Bronte.
In the busy, incessant nature of life, do you ever feel as if you have got caught up in the thick of thin things?
I recall one experience recently, when my to do list had 50+ actions on it – all urgent!
Something had to change.
Simply stated, I had been walking around for too long with my head down, scurrying about from one thing to the next.
Sound familiar?
In our families, our homes and far too frequently in our workplaces, we can become too narrowly focused on the next email, the next conference call, the next meeting or become concerned about a troublesome conversation from weeks ago.
Then, sometimes I catch myself, I come back to the present moment, and I remember to look up and see what matters most.
Have you paused to reflect and look up recently?
I know that the simple action – to look up – will help you to see more of your own world.
It’s hard to be down when you are looking up.
As you board the bus, train, plane, tube, step into the car, or walk to work today, or even in your lunch hour – catch yourself, come back to the present moment – look up – and see!
Behold the wonders all around.

Time

As a teenager, only moments ago, I had time aplenty. However, youth moves quickly to maturity.
Now, in my mid 50’s – I’m acutely aware of my mortality, my time here on earth is running out!
Families that were once young, are then grown, and then gone.
If we have lived through half a century, a quarter or even a fifth of a century, we know how quickly time has come and gone.
Like me, if you have lived through half a century, then you’ll know as I do that two times our lifetime isn’t very long at all!
Time is so full and yet so fleeting, and upon its use depends all the possibilities that there are.
Sometimes we can think of the past as a thing quite apart from the present. Really they are one eternal round.
As Goethe put it, “things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
Jack N. Gerard observed “We live in a world of information overload, dominated by ever-increasing distractions that make it more and more difficult to sort through the commotion of this life. Unless we take the time to reflect, we may not realise the impact of this fast-paced environment on our daily lives and the choices we make.”
As I flick through TV channels, or scroll through social media, too often I find a world saturated with incessant noise, much of which is too loud, garish and crude. We need to pause and contemplate what we choose to do with the precious gift of time, before we fritter it away in frivolous “trivial tripe!” said James E Faust.
We don’t need more time. We have all the time there is. No one has more of it than each of us has. We must manage ourselves accordingly, rather than allowing conditions to manage us. Step back from the world – ask yourself how will I measure my life?
Words may change, styles may change, the man-made manner of life may change, but the stars in the heaven retain their course, and I know that our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ, the creator of heaven and earth and all things are, remain in command.
“Time is clearly not our natural dimension. This it is that we are never really at home in time because we belong to eternity. Time, as much as any one thing, whispers that we are strangers here.” Neal A. Maxwell.
Treasure your time, value it, use it wisely. Much will come from very little effort if we slow down, observe and see.
How will you choose to use your time allotment today?

Overloaded?

Last Sunday, we decided to gourmet with the missionaries for dinner.
Elder Austin had never had dinner in quite this way before, and as Kyle and Cristi were still here, we thought it was a good idea to set it all up. It was New Year after all.
We got everything organised, with two grills on the table, meat, sauces, breads, plates, cutlery, glasses, extension cables etc.
Then we plugged in the grills.
Suddenly, the house was in darkness.
We’d blown a fuse!
A trip to the fuse box, showed that the circuit was broken, and the switch had tripped.
I tried to reset it, but it wouldn’t reset.
The two grills were plugged into one socket. Hmm, “too overloaded” we thought.
We then put the grills into separate sockets and tried to reset the switch.
This time it worked, the lights came back on, and we had a lovely evening of gourmet together.
𝑫𝒐 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒃𝒍𝒐𝒘 𝒂 𝒇𝒖𝒔𝒆 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆𝒔 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒍𝒐𝒂𝒅𝒆𝒅?
In a similar manner, sometimes, when circumstances in our life demand more of us than we feel we can give, we can feel overloaded.
Just like the fuse box in our homes however, we also have some built in safety factors in our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual state that help us to ensure that we don’t overload.
Each of us have more built-in strength than we suppose.
Frequently, we must slow down, reappraise, readjust, rewire and consider what really matters most.
In that regard, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, a person’s relationship with God is most sacred and vital. “As we seek Him, as we learn of His son Jesus Christ, as we open our hearts to the influence of the Holy Ghost, our lives become more stable and secure.”
I know that it is through coming unto Christ, that will bring you peace, stability, security and He will become the source of an uninterruptible source of constant power in your life.
What switch do you need to flick?

Enjoying the Moment

Recently I was asked, “How can you be really present and enjoy the very moment you are experiencing?”
My mind flashed back to a professional development event I attended in St. Andrews a few years ago, when I was introduced to mindfulness with a single raisin!
In this well-known mindfulness exercise, participants start to experience this feeling of being “present” for themselves by taking ten to fifteen minutes to eat a single raisin.
It requires you to focus your mind on the present moment using all your senses – what you can see, hear, smell, taste and touch.

The exercise

Sitting in a circle, and our teacher gave each of us a single raisin.
Taking a moment, I got comfy in my chair…
– I held the raisin in my hand.
– Looking at it, I saw the different colours, light and ridges on the raisin.
– Closing my eyes, I felt the smallness of the raisin, it’s softness and its waxy texture.
– I brought it close to my nose to smell the raisin, concentrating on any scents or aromas I could detect.
– Next, I placed the raisin in my mouth and on my tongue. Without chewing, I noticed the sensation of having it on my tongue.
– Taking a bite of this tiny raisin, I tasted the sensations in my mouth. The smaller pieces of the raisin felt different.
– I listened and heard the sound as I chewed.
– I detected the intention to swallow starting to build and then decided to swallow it.
– Finally, I tracked the sensation of the raisin going into my tummy.
A simple little exercise to help us slow down.
How many moments do we miss with our spouses, our children, our parents, friends and colleagues, because we’re too busy rushing forward with our own always so very important tasks that need to get done?
We get so busy that we forget about seeing or ministering to the one, until we catch ourselves, or someone helps us once again to refocus.
Is it time for you to come back, slow down and refocus?
Taking time to enjoy one little raisin, may just help you and I to refocus on that one thing we need to do today.
What is your “one thing you will do today?”