I'm having an incredible time here in Edmonton. Barb and I arrived on Thursday morning to launch Leading Influence in Alberta. We've established a partnership with Evangel Church and Pastor Larry Lindoff to provide pastoral care to members of the Alberta Legislature. We're excited about the future and what God has in store.
As we were setting up for our event last night, I remembered the last time I was in that room. My first pastor's wife had passed away and her funeral was held at that church. Carolyn (but I always called her Mrs.) Brown was my Sunday School teacher, Youth Leader, Mentor and friend through some of the most important years of my life. She was a bit 2nd mom and big sister. Some of the most important decisions and choices that I've made in my life came because of what seemed like off hand comments from Mrs.B. She was there.... at the right place, at the right time and had the insight to say the right thing, just when I needed to hear it! I was blessed to have her in my life.
She would often tell me how proud she was of who I was and what I was doing with my life. She might have said it to others, but she always told me I was her only success. I doubt that was true, but it always made me feel special.
My favorite memory of her comes from a time just after we met each other. For a few months, she and her husband lived with our family when they first moved to our little town. On this particular day, my mom was baking cookies and had to step out for about an hour. She left Mrs. B in charge of pulling out the last sheet of ginger snap cookies. For whatever reason, the cookies got burned. When I arrived home from school, Mrs B had a stack of cookies and a glass of milk for me. She kept feeding me her 'burnt offerings' for as along as I was willing to eat them. It became our favorite story.
This afternoon, I visited another former Sunday School teacher. Carl was part of our church, a family friend and my SS teacher for more than a few years. His health has been in decline over the past few years. I don't get to Edmonton often, so I wanted to see him if I could. As we were talking I remembered that he might not remember me as 'Tim'. So I started, for about the 3rd time, to talk about my parents and ask him if he remembered and slowly went from my dad to my mom and then asked if he remembered their kids. I asked if he remembered 'Timmy' and he lit up. I said 'I'm Timmy!' He responded 'I'll be jiggered, you're all grown up!' I responded, I hope so, I'm 50!!
We visited for a while more and then I began to read Ps 23 to him. He started to quote it with me and I flashed back to SS days. My eyes starting leaking as I was struck by the precious moment I was experiencing. When I stood to go, he grabbed my hands and began to speak Aaron's blessing over me. Heaven opened! It was powerful! I left feeling richer. He went back to watching Beverly Hillbillies!
The older I get, the more the heroes of my youth and childhood are fading and passing from this life into eternity. To many people, they might be just ordinary, regular people. In their own eyes, they were nothing more than ordinary or regular. But when I begin to contemplate the immensity of what they have invested in me and the fruit that has come as a result, I am profoundly greatful. I have been so blessed because ordinary people were faithful to be who and what God called them to be.
I'm challenged today to be true to who God has called me to be. It's been a good day of remembering.
Friday, January 18, 2013
Next month marks the 2nd full year that I've been running for exercise. One of my long term challenges has been to learn the value of good stretching. I've come to enjoy running. Stretching on the other hand has been something of an acquired taste, until recently...
On Dec 31, I signed up for the Vancouver BMO Marathon in May. I've run 3 half-marathons and wanted a fresh challenge. There's a huge difference between a half-marathon and full marathon in terms of training requirements. I'm running A LOT more and a LOT farther. To say that my body is 'feeling it' is an understatement! My legs are both tired and sore most days, unless I take the time to do some serious stretching. Stretching forces the muscles out to their full length. It keeps them from becoming stiff and less flexible. In the end, I will be a better runner because I stretch and my body will feel better while I train.
I've been stretching in some other ways too. In early January we invited a group of people together for a ThinkTank session. We spent a morning talking about opportunities and possibilities for Leading Influence. What could the future look like if there were no limits? It was a stretching experience too! I've come to the realization again that in order for Leading Influence to move forward, we have to do things differently. It's the same challenge that every leader faces. In order for the organization to move forward, the leader and the organization have to stretch and grow. For the past 2 weeks I've been working with a business coach who is doing an amazing job of helping me see and change my thought processes and my actions so that we can achieve our goals as a ministry. It's exciting and has been a very enjoyable experience. My homework for later today is to map out what I want to be doing in 2017 and 2020. (I'm not entirely sure what I'll be doing yet, I'm just glad to know that I'll have a plan when I get there!)
I've learned this about God. He is all about 'the stretch'. Check out these words from Isaiah 54.
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. Is. 54:1-3 NIV
Note the words, Enlarge, stretch, lengthen, strengthen. The context of the verse speaks of making room for God's blessing in your life. It's interesting to me that the preparation requires us to move out of our comfort zones and familiar spaces into something new. This requires focus, discipline, courage and faith. We don't get to new places haphazardly or by chance. It always involves some intentional and purposeful choices. Stretching isn't easy or comfortable. It requires work and discipline, but it's a key part of getting us to where we need to be.
In terms of more immediate stretching, I'm very excited about launching Leading Influence Alberta next week in Edmonton. We've built a unique partnership with Evangel Church and Pastor Larry Lindoff that is going to allow us to engage with Alberta MLAs and support them as they serve their province. We'll post some pictures of the event next Friday!