September 2012


 

Sara and I went to the Midtown Music Fest in Atlanta over the weekend.  Sara’s mom watched the kids while we were gone, so Sara left early Friday afternoon to meet her and make the child exchange.  This meant that Olivia would be checking out of school early. 

Typically, Olivia gets out at 2:20.  On this momentous occasion, she got to leave at 2:00.  The way she talked about it, you would think that she was preparing to stand on the podium for Olympic gold.  That was all she talked about when I dropped her off that morning.  She was so excited about the fact that later that day she would be “checked out”.

It’s these little glimpses of insight into the mind of a child that helps me remember where we find some of the simplest forms of satisfaction.  It wasn’t the fact that she was leaving early – she was only getting out 20 minutes earlier than her regular time.  She was just excited because her name would be called out and for one brief minute she would be center of attention in her classroom.  She’s not the type that typically seeks attention – she has been known to clam up in front of crowds – but in this instance, all eyes would be on her without her having to perform or do anything spectacular.

For me, this is a lesson learned.  Most people love recognition.  Few people freely offer it.  In the working world, most of what we recognize is the things that people do poorly or fail to do at all.  As a manager, I know that it seems like I spend 90% of my day dealing with problems.  Most of these problems are because someone didn’t do what they were supposed to do or because someone performed poorly.

We have a finite amount of time and seemingly infinite supply of problems.  This dynamic often leads us to manage by exception – we recognize the bad and ignore the good – thinking that the good things will simply continue to be good without our intervention.  While I’m not a fan fixing things that aren’t broken, I am a fan of recognizing the lack of brokenness.  I’m an even bigger fan of recognizing excellence.  Unfortunately, we spend so much time focusing on the broken until it becomes the only thing we see.  I challenge you to look for something good and recognize it – I know this is a practice I need to adopt at work, at home, and on the highways of Atlanta… maybe that last one is a stretch.

 

 

My youngest turned 4 last week and my oldest turns 7 next week.  Having their birthdays so close together allows my two girls to have a two-week birthday celebration that begins with a birthday dinner and presents for the youngest one week, a party with all their friends and visits from family (and more presents) in between, and a dinner and presents for my oldest the following week. 

The party was this past weekend.  We took the girls and 17 of their friends to Catch Air – one of those giant bouncy-house places.  The kids had a blast and it was great to see them to have such a good time with all their friends without having 19 kids at our house!

It’s hard to believe that my little girls are four and seven already.  It’s great seeing them grow up, learn, and become more independent, but it’s also a little sad to see the exact same thing.  I know what those of you with grown children will say… they grow up so fast and enjoy it while you can.  I can understand feeling that way someday, but I also recognize that the people who say that are at least 15 years removed from getting no sleep because a child has a fever, wiping butts every day, cleaning markers off the walls, and not being able to go anywhere or do anything at any time without figuring out what to do with the kids.  By the way… a good babysitter for two kids these days runs $12 – $15 per hour!

How quickly these empty nesters forget that life once consisted of working, feeding children, doing homework, bathing children, and repeating 5 times during the week only to spend the weekend as a taxi service and social planner.  I know I’ll look back years from now and miss these days… at least that’s what I’m told.

 

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As I sit on my front porch writing this post on an early Sunday morning, I am enjoying some wonderful early autumn weather.  It is a cool 57 degrees and the air feels much drier than the sauna-like conditions that moved in about five months ago.  Here in Atlanta we hit 90 degrees several days back in April and simmered in a crock-pot of heat and humidity all summer long.

This crisp, cool morning is a welcome respite.  It’s amazing how a 20 degree change in temperature can completely alter our moods.  I checked the weather on-line to see what the 10-day forecast looks like because we have birthday parties for our girls next weekend.  I also checked the weather in Dallas, because I’ll be traveling there tomorrow on a business trip.

Remember how I said a 20 degree change in temperature can completely alter our moods?  Well the forecast for Dallas is a high of 95 degrees every day that I’m there.  Crap.

I guess I’ll just have to endure until I get back.  Fall is by far my favorite season.  It is a cornucopia for the senses – the air is cooler, the nights are clearer, the leaves not only look beautiful but have that wonderful fall smell, the blackbirds chirp, and the geese honk their way to warmer places.  And there is so much to do – hayrides, corn mazes, fall festivals, pumpkin patches, the best hiking of the year, and of course… football!

Interestingly, while fall is a favorite season for many, it is followed by what is most people’s least favorite.  Sure winter starts off with a bang.  Christmas is great and football is still abundant, but after that everything just seems gray, brown, and cold… dead.  The way they appeal to the senses, the transition from fall to winter is like going from the Caribbean to the Soviet Union – I’ve been to both and you’ll just have to trust me on that simile.

Whether God gave us fall as a crescendo for the summer or motivation to get through the winter, I encourage you to get out and take in the amazing gift that is autumn.  We are surrounded by a constantly changing work of art created by a Master with an infinite palette.  It’d be a shame to miss that – even if I do have to DVR the Titans/Patriots game.