Too Much of a Good Thing …

I believe that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. And for every questionable action there is the risk of an equally adverse reaction. It is in this spirit of avoiding undesirable outcomes that I got after my oldest daughter for slicing a hole in the top of her water bottle.

“Why can’t you unscrew the cap like everyone else?” I asked.

“Because it’s easier to drink out of this way,” Katie said as she stabbed the lid again.

“Not if I have to take you to the hospital for stitches,” I warned.

My words fell on deaf ears as Katie twisted the knife to make the hole bigger and then pulled it out to examine her handiwork. I should have been more stern with her but the truth is that I admired my daughter’s determination and understood her action. All of us, at one time or another, have dismissed direction and taken a stab at finding our own solution to a problem. Sometimes it works to our advantage and other times it works us over to the point where we’re so afraid of getting hurt that we refuse to even try.

I want my kids to realize the dreams that God has planted in their hearts, not hide from them.

Too much of a good thing (even avoiding negative consequences) is definitely a bad thing if it holds us back or hinders our progress. And although I intend to keep poking holes in Katie’s water bottle theory until she finds a safer way to quench her thirst for efficiency, I never want her to stop trying to make the world a better place. Instead I want my oldest—and all of us—to take responsible chances and view mistakes, not as road blocks to avoid, but as guard rails to keep us moving in the right direction. Only then will we reach the place where God’s plan meets our productivity as we put a lid on our fear of failure and say goodbye to the status quo.

Put every system to the test until the good is better and the better is best.


A Healing Message

It’s been said that things happen in threes. After my April 14th surgery, I have to agree. It was supposed to be a simple procedure to repair a torn ligament in my left wrist but the damage proved to be more extensive than the MRI originally showed and the doctor wound up fixing, not one, but three tears.

“One of the ligaments had ripped completely away from the bone,” the surgeon told Bill after my three-hour operation was over. “I had to put two pins in your wife’s wrist to hold the bones together until it heals.”

That was almost six weeks ago and, although typing with one hand has been a challenge, my only regret is that I didn’t do something sooner. Instead I spent the past five years nursing an aching wrist that could have been fixed in one day.

The only thing worse than putting off the inevitable is listening to someone go on and on about an issue that he or she has no intention of addressing. I never want to be that person. While it is noble not to saddle anyone else with our problems, sometimes I think we spend so much time avoiding the pain of doing that we forget about the joy of living with the fruits of our labors.

Why do we do it?

Why are we so determined to play the victim instead of the victor?

If I had to self-analyze my penchant for procrastination, I’d guess that it was because I don’t want to be a burden to my family. Bill may joke about what I spend on purses and shoes but it’s nothing compared to the cost of repairing a ligament; and I’d rather wait until our insurance deductible has been met for other reasons than be the cause for that type of out-of-pocket expense. I also don’t like the idea of having to ask for help with basic tasks like tying my shoes and taking out the trash.

I often say that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Self-sufficiency is no exception, and so I set aside mine to have the surgery. When it was over, I was touched by how much everyone pitched in to help. Not once did Bill complain about the cost. Instead we all had a good laugh over how ridiculous I looked with my arm bent at a ninety-degree angle and pointed at the ceiling to keep the swelling down.

One Sunday morning, for example, when I walked past Hollie with my arm in the air she joked: “I hope you have a ticket.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“To the gun show!” She shouted while flexing her biceps.

Not wanting to be left out of the fun, Bill gave me a hug after we got home from church and said: “You’re so nice.”

Once again I looked confused until he held his arm up like mine and pretended to wave at passersby.

All jokes aside, this time of recovery has been a good one because it taught me that relying on others is not a weakness if it brings out another person’s strengths; and when we take care of ourselves it sends the healing message that I am worth it … and so are you.



Letting Go Of What Is

Although it’s been five years since I met with my manager to tell her that I would be leaving the company, I remember it like it was yesterday. I’d been wanting to quit for more than a year to pursue a new career as a writer and speaker. What finally gave me the motivation I needed was our family’s upcoming move to Chicago.

I remember feeling on top of the world as I returned home after giving my notice. My joy was short-lived, however, when I turned too sharply while pulling into the garage.

“Oh no!” I said somberly when I heard what  sounded like an aluminum can collapse under pressure.

“What is it, Mom?” Katie asked from where she sat in her booster seat.

Unsure of how to answer, I climbed out of the van to inspect the damage. As I suspected, the passenger side was wedged against the entrance to the garage.

“Don’t get out,” I warned the girls as I got back into the vehicle. “I need to back out of the garage and drive in again.”

Using knowledge gained from prior accidents—yes, there have been others, I turned the wheel in the opposite direction and backed up. Although this minimized the damage, the scrape on the fender was still noticeable; and I wondered how my husband, Bill, would react when he got home. To my surprise, there was not a hint of irritation in his voice as he inspected the damage and said casually, “It’s just a van.”

I’ve gotten upset at my daughters for doing much less damage than what Bill saw when he came home. How could he stay so calm?

Perhaps his reaction was a reminder that possessions are nothing compared to the people who own them. Or maybe it set the tone for how I was to view, not just my resignation, but our family’s relocation. By letting go of what was (a newly-dented vehicle), Bill realized what could be (a peaceful night together with his family). Through his example, God was urging me to do the same.

Sometimes you have to let go of something good to make room for something great and if God brings us to it, he’ll see us through even the worst mistakes that are made along the way.