Sunday, March 01, 2015

Weekend trip home (record time)

Since it was Jane's birthday, we took a weekend trip back "home." Jane had Friday off, and I got off at noon, so we headed back to Buda around 2 pm. We actually made it there in 4 hrs and 15 minutes - which is about as fast as we've ever done it in. The traffic was really good, and for the most part it was sunny and calm. Friday night we went to ZBest in Sheffield, where my parents treated us to a nice meal for Jane's birthday. It's a really good restaurant in a pretty small town, but you can park in the middle of Main Street.

Saturday we slept in and then went out and saw Jane's brother Terry's new house. It is on the site where the house Jane grew up in used to be. It is really nice. After that we swung through Sheffield and got a tour of the new Cornerstone Community Wellness center that nephew Tim and his wife are starting. Wow, it is an awesome place. So very cool.

We ate lunch at my parent's house, then Jane and my mom went shopping in Princeton. I stayed home with dad and I took like a 2-hour nap. I was feeling much better with hardly any effects of the vertigo remaining. We actually went back to ZBest for supper again Saturday night. Tim bought everyone supper, and Jane's brother John joined us, Tim's family, and my parents. Btw, I had Mahi Mahi Friday night (with mashed potatoes and veggies), and a bunless burger with veggies Saturday night. Both were fantastic!

After supper we took my parents back to Buda, then we went back to Sheffield to this gem of a place called Brothers Pub. The "brothers"'s band was playing on this night - Windjam. They are literally one of the best unheard of rock/blues bands anywhere. I guess Lisa was absent because she was sick, but Linda's daughter joined on several numbers, and her boyfriend(?) played bass on some songs, along with Anson Murray. Anson and daughter Carrie were actually the 1st grade Prom (or was it Homecoming?) attendants together. We always referred to him as "Dancin' Anson." On this night he was playing the keyboards - and he was pretty darn good. He sat in on a number of songs, and it looked like about half of them he was just playing along (meaning they hadn't practiced together and/or he didn't know the song). It was a fantastic night of music. They did a cover of All Along the Watchtower that I'd never heard them do before, as well as some old Jethro Tull and Mike played his flute. Fun, fun night. We spent most of it with niece Allison and nephew Tim.

The fun came to a pretty abrupt halt though, as Lady Jane came down with a stomach bug. She was dancing away, and had only had a few glasses of wine over the course of the night, but all of a sudden she started puking her guts out. I had to stop the car a couple times on the way home, then she was up almost all night. I have not seen her that sick in a long time. Poor girl. 

We were planning to leave for home in Indiana by 9 am Sunday, but she just wasn't up to it. So we hung out for awhile. Finally she thought she was okay to ride in the car, so we left a little after 1 pm (our time). Part of it was because she was sick, but it's partly just a game I always play, and I set out to establish a new personal best for the trip. I did it!! It is 275 miles, and we made it in 4 hours exactly (240 minutes). We didn't stop at all - other than stoplights on rte 30. I believe that averages out to 69 mph for the trip. Granted, half of it is I-80/94, but the other half is route 30 - which, even though it is 4-lane, it goes through several towns and had way too many stoplights. But I was on a mission. The weather wasn't bad, the traffic was good, and we barreled along. I make a point to never go more than 14 mph over the speed limit - other than that stretch between Joliet and Gary where you do around 80 in a 55 - and I managed to avoid any police. So... I did that.

All in all it was a nice visit, other than Jane getting sick. I suppose it is my turn now. Goody goody.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Jane's birthday

Today is the lovely Lady Jane's birthday. She is gracefully aging like a fine wine - better with each passing year. Numbers eventually become irrelevant.

She still works as the manager at the same place she has been for some time. She has also started doing the consumer lending as well. I was not aware of how much money she makes until recently. Not that it's six figures or anything like that, but it's way more than I make. We are fortunate she has a nice paying job, even though I wish she didn't have quite as stressful of one. Someday I'm hoping that will change, though she does her job very well. Any company would be better with her on their side.

We went out for supper last night - steaks at Chops. We have plans for this weekend, and then another Takaoka celebration the following weekend.

This is one of my favorite pictures of her from this past year. It was taken recently at the Coliseum - watching either basketball or hockey - in her usual position when the grandkids are around (minus C).

It's been quite a year for my dear, and I look forward to even better things to come in the future. :)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dentist

I had a dentist appointment this morning. I go to Comfort Dental and it was my 6-month cleaning and check-up. They took x-rays, cleaned & polished my teeth, then the dentist looked at them. My regular dentist was gone today, though, so they had a substitute dentist there. My regular dentist is Dr. Bible. Seriously. That's why we chose him - because of his name. I like him, though, because he's real mellow. The lady that was there this morning was okay, but she seemed to be making a deal of things that my regular dentist doesn't. For instance, I haven't had a cavity in quite awhile; but this lady pointed out 3 teeth that needed "something" done (in her opinion). One was a cavity where I already have a filling, another was a filling that she said needed "smoothed out," and a third was a chipped tooth that Dr. Bible told me is not a problem. I caught the hygenist kind of rolling her eyes a little, and she told me that we would do the filling and then I could discuss the other things with Dr. Bible (meaning she didn't really think they needed done). So, the cleaning went well, but I didn't like the idea of having a cavity - especially in a tooth that already has a filling.

Then... when I went to pay, the lady informs me that my insurance is no good. I had given her our new insurance card when I arrived. She said it was only for medical, but not dental, and that our old insurance which included dental had been cancelled. So I asked what my options were. She was like, "Well, I need to know if you have insurance!" I told her that I had texted my wife - whom the insurance is through - but that she was in a meeting right now. Then she just looked at me. So I asked again, "What do you want me to do?" Again, she says, "I need to know if you have insurance!" I looked at her for a bit, then asked if my wife could just call her when she was out of her meeting. She said that was fine. Why didn't she just say that in the first place?! It was weird. I don't like being hassled at the dentist office. It's bad enough as it is.

So this was not the best dental appointment. For starters, I had a different girl than usual. For some reason I was in the middle room instead of the corner room where my usual person is. She was nice enough though. Then the substitute dentist was a little strange; the receptionist was not being very nice; but the worst part was the vertigo. I felt a lot better today than yesterday, but when they lay me back in the chair I had to ask them to wait a minute for everything to stop spinning. At least the girl had had this happen to her so she knew what I was talking about. It finally settled down, but then I had to go through the same thing when they sat me up. I had to sit there a bit to get my bearings straightened out.

Now I need to go back on March 12 to get my filling. First I need to make sure I still have dental insurance. Jane says we're paying for it, so we need to find out what it is and why the dentist office doesn't think we have it. Ugh. Back to back days of a doctor visit and dentist visit is more health stuff than I care to deal with. :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dr. visit - firstcare clinic

I went to the doctor today. I wasn't planning to, but I've had this vertigo situation for several days now and I felt kind of sick after I got to work today, so I went down the street to the Parkview Physicians Group FirstCare Walk-in clinic. It is like a minute from my office. I thought it was a Redi-Med - which I've been to before - but since it wasn't I had to get registered and everything. It seems like a nice place and will be convenient as a clinic if I ever need it from work. It took me about a half hour to get registered. Then they just had me see a regular doctor in the office there, instead of the clinic. I'm not real sure what the difference is.

I saw Dr. Nidia F Villalba. She seemed nice enough. She diagnosed me as having vertigo, said I was maybe a little on the dehydrated side, and might have a virus of some kind. She also freaked out over my blood pressure. The first time the nurse took it it was like 160/102. I think it was a faulty reading. She had the nurse retake it, and she used a different sleeve, and it was 150/88. So, who knows. I felt like crap though, and having this dizziness kind of stresses me out. I told her I have an appointment with my regular doctor in a few weeks, but she wrote me a prescription for an additional blood pressure medicine anyway (metoprolol 50mg). She also wrote me a prescription for meclizine 25 mg. It is basically like Dramamine and can just be taken as needed for the dizziness.

I'm not sure if I will take either one. I will keep an eye on my blood pressure - which I do anyway. What's weird is that it had been somewhat low lately. I think it was just because I didn't feel good and whatnot. I don't know if I really need the meclizine either. The dizziness isn't all that bad, but I'm just kind of tired of feeling like this. Both of them can make you drowsy, and I don't need to be any drowsier. So we'll see. The main thing I need to do is drink more water. I will go get some now.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Coaching and the christian faith

I finished reading Coaching For Christian Leaders: A Practical Guide by Linda Miller and Chad Hall. I found it a very good refresher, and thought I would share a few snippets here and there. For today, they share in the introduction some ways that coaching relates to the Christian faith. This is from p. 4...

Coaching squares with orthodox Christian theology and provides a powerful expression of Christian faith -- one that impacts the world for kingdom good. Coaching is a real-life means of living out the Christian faith according to six core Christian beliefs.

1. Meaning. Acknowledging that the here and now holds meaning. Christian coaching brings a redemptive power to the present. Coaching affirms life as a moving, memorable, and meaningful story and seeks to help individual believers align the stories of their lives with the narratives toward which God is directing them.

2. Potential. Coaching affirms that God has created each person with enormous general and specific potential that is intended to be released. Coaches care genuinely and work tirelessly to germinate and grow the potential of those they coach. Christian coaches invest relational energy in helping people discern and live into their God-given potential.

3. Sanctification. Coaches are in the "sanctification" business. Believers are on a journey toward "saintliness" - not a state of holiness that removes people from the everyday and mundane, but a commitment to walking through life according to the will and ways of Jesus. Coaches help people move forward, exploring challenges and opportunities of life and shifting behaviors and attitudes towards heaven.

4. Action. Christians believe the material world is the dwelling place of the spiritual. Coaching encourages people to reflect on what is true and to act in new ways based on this reflective encounter with truth. Christian coaches want people to take intentional action determined from thoughtful consideration of reality, possibilities, barriers, opportunities, and outcomes. The coaching relationship creates space for a person being coached to slow down, become focused, and think through the personal journey of life.

5. Stewardship. Coaching supports the Christian belief of stewardship by giving positive attention to the results of a life lived with intention. A part of God's intention is that each individual bear fruit. Coaching invests attention in exploring the results a person is getting, the level of satisfaction with the results, and how poor results can be a doorway into investigating habits, attitudes, beliefs, and actions that produce the results.

6. Relationships. The relational nature of coaching reflects the heart of the Christian faith. Coaching is a relationship that fertilizes, nurtures, and even sometimes prunes so that people can live well and bear fruit. A coach is similar to the biblical term paraclete, one who comes alongside to assist. Christ used this term to describe the Holy Spirit, who would be a Helper for God's people as they moved through and toward life. The coaching relationship encourages coaches to be used by God in the paraclete role for others.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Babysitting overnight

We kept the kids overnight again Saturday-Sunday. It was much nicer this time since they were all three healthy. We were at the Feipel's on Saturday afternoon, and just brought them home with us in their van. They came over Sunday morning before church and we all left about 10:30 for that.

Anna is such a sweetie when she feels good. She was feeling good this weekend. She is so long and tall now, and quite the jumper. She also talks really well now. She's a big help with the boys. She will always hold a special place in my heart.

Bennett is growing up, but he can still be pretty goofy at times. He talks a lot, but I can't for the life of me understand most of what he says yet. He can be an excitable boy, though. He's funny when he gets excited about something. He is also very sensitive (as is his sister). It was fun watching him when he got in bed, before he went to sleep. I laid down with him in the big bed at first. He's like a little man. He finally asked if he could sleep in the crib - which made me glad, because I was sure he would have fallen out of bed otherwise, he flops around so much - so he ended up sleeping in the crib all night.

Caleb is still not a real good sleeper. We put the pak-n-play in our room. He went to sleep good, but he woke up during the night. Eventually we put him between us in the bed. A lot of times he had his eyes closed, but his arms and hands were constantly reaching for our faces. He also grunts and groans quite a bit. He's kind of goofy too.

Anna goes to sleep early, and wakes up early. A little after 6 am she came bounding down the hallway with a smile on her face to announce she was hungry. Of course grandma made her pancakes and bacon - one of her favorites. Bennett stays up late, and sleeps a little later. It takes him awhile to wake up, but if you just let him be he's eventually okay. Caleb seems to always look tired, but for some reason resists the sleep as much as he can. He's a big smiler though.

We played quite a bit in the basement. They are all pretty good to just sit and play with toys now. Caleb is not quite able to stand on his own yet, but he manages to get around pretty good. Anna likes to help in the kitchen, and she can help pick up now too. I bought one of those Bop Bag things that you blow up with air. You're supposed to be able to hit it and it pops right back up. It didn't work exactly like that, but the kids had fun with it.

All in all it was a good weekend. We were still plenty tired, but I can't imagine not having the little one's around. They're growing up so fast.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Haircut

I paid for another haricut yesterday. It was almost 2 months to the day since my last one. I went to the Great Clips on our side of town again. And I got the same person as last time - Ellyn. Once again, she was nice, but she really talked my ear off. She cut it the same way as last time - a 4 on top, tapered to a 2 on the sides. It's okay. Whatever. I kind of like paying for a haricut again, even if it's probably not worth it.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Listening well

As I learn more about coaching I am recognizing the need to really be a better listener. I am not very good at it. Not that I 'don't' listen, but I don't listen well. Listening is probably the most basic, and important, skill necessary in being a good coach (meaning=life coach/personal coach/ministry coach).

I've been reading through Linda Miller and Chad Hall's book Coaching for Christian Leaders: A Practical Guide. It is a really good introduction and refresher on coaching. They stress that the two core coaching skills are listening and asking precise questions. In fact, these two skills are the foundation for all other coaching skills. I agree.

Two facets of listening that make all the difference are: 1) The ability to stay present, and 2) The ability to stay focused. They list some tips for great listening on p. 30:

  1. Maintain eye contact when face to face.
  2. Reduce visual distractions, especially when on the phone.
  3. Put phones and emails on silent mode so they don't intrude on the conversation.
  4. Determine ways to reduce mental distractions.
  5. Allow for silences instead of immediately jumping in with something.
  6. Be aware when you are interrupting...stop it!
  7. Relax and pay attention to all that is being said.
  8. If necessary, take notes to stay focused and to remember details.
  9. Take two to three minutes of quiet time before you are called on to be an active and present listener. Take a few deep breaths, say a prayer, and determine what will help you to be ready to listen.
Listening is largely a matter of patience and focus. They share that great coaching requires listening in three ways:

1. The coach listens inwardly in an effort to self-manage and be in total service to the client. Listen for key words shared; remind yourself to suspend judgment; comment only on what is being said - especially if something is repeated - rather than something you want to interject.

2. The coach listens to the person being coached, focusing on what is said and what is not said - energy, body language, tone of voice, and flow of the conversation.

3. The coach listens to the Holy Spirit for insights, intuitions, and revelation that cannot come from words alone.

I need to read this chapter over and over again (actually, the entire book). Again, not that I'm a terrible listener, but I can be easily distracted. I also have trouble focusing all my attention on any one person or any one area. Sometimes I really suck at it. But it is something we can all improve at and be quite good at if we want to.

Another thing to remember... as the authors suggest... the goal with listening is to focus on the person being coached (or listened to). It is important to be aware of refraining from 'self-referencing.' Not only does this mean avoiding the tendency to one-up the other person with a story of your own, it also involves keeping the focus on them even with our questions. For example, a self-reference could be, "Tell me more about that," or, "I'd like to know more." Instead, simply saying, "Say more about that," keeps the focus on the person talking. It's a subtle distinction, but can make a huge difference.

So, there ya go. I want to be a better listener. I need to be a better listener. And I believe I can be. It's a good thing I have this blog to do my "talking." ;)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Christian martyrdom

In light of all the recent talk of the Islamic State (ISIS), and terrorists, and how to deal with things like this... I've been thinking about what it means to live (and die) for Christ. In my mind, that is the same thing as 'what it means to be a Christian.' I am convinced that what it means to me is not the same thing it means to a lot of other people.

I am often saddened by some of the things I read on Facebook (and elsewhere) written by "christian" people - how we need to eradicate the evil terrorists, wipe the planet clean of the mean and nasty muslims, "take america back!" actually just popped up on my Facebook news feed as I took a gander there. Is that really what Jesus taught us to do? How he taught us to live? The life he called us into???

I think about Jesus' teaching to "turn the other cheek;" to "love our enemies;" to "rejoice and be glad" when we are persecuted; etc., etc., etc. (Mt. 5)

I think about the Apostle Paul, when he said (Ph. 1:20-21), "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

I don't know... I just don't see anywhere that it is okay for a follower of Jesus to use force to take another persons life - or even to defend our own. So I did a simple google search for "christian martyrs" and came up with a few links.

Eight martyrs in the Bible...

Ten famous Christian martyrs... 

Then I happened onto what I thought was a nicely written article at gotquestions.org on what a Christian martyr is. I hope they don't mind, but I am going to just put the whole thing right here:


Question: "Christian martyrdom - what does the Bible say? Should Christians desire to become martyrs?"

Answer: The dictionary defines a martyr as “a person who is killed because of his religious or other beliefs.” Interestingly enough, the English word martyr is really a word transliterated from the original Greek martur, which simply means “witness.” The reason why this word became synonymous with dying for one’s religious beliefs is that the early Christian witnesses were often persecuted and/or killed for their witness.

As evidence of this, consider the story of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, recorded in Acts 6:8–7:53. After being anointed as one of the first deacons in the church, Stephen immediately began doing mighty works among the people. As is usually the case when the Holy Spirit is mightily at work and the gospel is going forth, the forces of darkness arise to hinder the work of the kingdom. In this case, several men came to dispute what Stephen was saying, but Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, was able to refute their criticisms. Rather than accept what Stephen was teaching, these men brought false charges against him to the Jewish leaders (Acts 6:11-14). Most of Acts 7 consists of Stephen’s speech to the Jewish leaders in which he essentially summarized the history of Israel up to their rejection of their Messiah.

At the end of the speech, Stephen utters these words, which seal his fate: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it” (Acts 7:51-53).

Now, there was nothing untrue in Stephen’s words. The Jewish leaders were indeed responsible for turning Jesus over to the Romans for execution. Despite Jesus’ miracles and authoritative teaching, the hardness of the Jewish leaders’ hearts kept them from seeing the truth about Jesus. The Jewish leaders, upon hearing Stephen’s words, were enraged and immediately arranged for Stephen’s execution by stoning (v. 58). Stephen was, therefore, the first Christian martyr recorded in Scripture.

The Bible places a premium on faithful believers who pay the ultimate price for their witness. Stephen was granted a glorious vision of heaven before he died, and in this vision, he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:56) as though waiting for Stephen in an attitude of honor for Stephen’s faithful service. As further evidence that martyrs are considered precious in God’s sight, the apostle John saw in his vision of the millennium those martyred for their faith reigning with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4). The apostle Peter, who wrote the most about martyrdom and suffering for one’s faith, said, “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you... However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:14, 16). There is also the word of our Lord who pronounced a blessing upon those who are persecuted for His name: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (Matthew 5:11).

Clearly, the biblical evidence points to the fact that those who are persecuted and suffer for their witness to Christ (up to and including death) are pleasing in God’s sight. Given that, two additional questions arise. First, what if I’m not asked to make the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of Christ? God doesn’t call everyone to make the ultimate sacrifice, but the Bible calls all Christians to be prepared to give a defense of the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15). The key to this passage lies in preparedness. Consider this analogy: those enlisting in the armed services should do so with the understanding that they may be called into battle and may be called upon to die in the service of their country. This is (or should be) the mindset of everyone who joins the military. Clearly, not all enlisted men and women die in the service of their country, and not all are even called into battle. Despite this, they are trained daily to be prepared for battle. The same goes for the Christian. We are in a state of “warfare” (Ephesians 6:12-20), and our Lord may call upon any of us to witness and even be martyred for our faith. Thus, we must be prepared!

The second question that can be asked is, given martyrdom’s “special” status in God’s eyes, should we actually seek martyrdom? Biblically, we can’t make a case for seeking to be martyrs for the cause of Christ. Martyrdom is a great privilege if it is inevitable, but it is not to be sought. Jesus said, “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next” (Matthew 10:23). Furthermore, reading through the book of Acts, we see that the early church continually fled from intense persecution (Acts 8:1; 9:25, 30; 14:6; 17:10, 14). In each of these biblical examples, we see the early Christians fleeing persecution and taking all necessary precautions for survival. When Jesus says, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39), He is not calling for people to make an attempt to lose their lives. Rather, He is calling us to be willing to lose our lives for His sake. Those who actively seek the path of martyrdom are not seeking it for the glory of God, but for their own glory. As the old saying goes, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. God’s purpose in martyrdom is the glorification of His name and the building up of His church.

I would guess those 21 Christians who were beheaded by the IS troups are in a pretty glorious state right now. More power to 'em. It is sad, though, to see so many "christians" who have no interest or desire in following Jesus and his teachings. But I guess some things never change.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lenten prayer guide

Our church encouraged people to join together in using the same prayer guide during the season of Lent this year. They provided one hard copy of the Seek God for the City 2015 prayer guide, and encouraged people to purchase the app ($.99). So, I started yesterday (Ash Wednesday) using the hard copy. I will continue to use it unless Jane wants to switch. There is a one-page daily devotion for every day from February 18 to March 29th.

I don't know how great of a devotional it is, but it's not too time-consuming or difficult, so I will give it a try. I'd heard of this elsewhere, but had never checked it out. It is put out by a group called the waymakers. I liked the little blurb on their site about Hope:

When people follow Christ, whether they know it or not, they step into a huge, unfolding story that is much greater than themselves. The story is ancient, encompassing every time and generation. The story is global, fulfilling the purpose of every people and culture.
If you’ve ever wondered why it’s so boring to live for your own concerns, it’s because God created you to hope–to yearn from the core of your soul to be part of something, and to be honored by someone, that is truly glorious.
Hope is walking with God with open eyes in the rush and tumble of a great story that is pressing toward a crescendo all over the planet. God is determined to show love and be loved in every people and place. When our vision is focused on the glory of His love being fulfilled, there is deep, increasing joy as we find God-given ways to co-work with Him.

I like that. It is difficult for me to find reasons why people should become followers of Jesus. That's a good reason.

So, that's what I'm doing for Lent. I have rarely ever done the 'give something up' thing. I do like using it as a time to sort of refocus, or refresh, though.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New books

I ordered some books the other day. It used to be a common practice, but not so much anymore. I just don't read all that much - especially church type books. But this is what I ordered...

I should have already read a couple of these books. Fortunately most of them are 200 pages or less. So guess what I'll be doing? They should arrive today.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cho

No, that's not a new word. This morning I was thinking about three words though: confidence, humility, and openness. Those are traits I value in others, and desire in myself.

I think it was last week that I read an article (or saw it somewhere) regarding the trait men most desire in a woman. It had nothing to do with body, hair, or voice.... it was confidence. More specifically, self-confidence. Problems can develop if we have either too little self-confidence, or too much. There is a delicate balance to believing in yourself without being arrogant, and it's nice to find that sweet spot (or when you see it in others). I found this helpful little website on building self-confidence - http://www.mindtools.com/selfconf.html - that I think is worth checking out if you struggle with this.

I believe confidence wears best - and is most helpful - when coupled with humility. Many people seem to think of humility as having a low opinion of yourself. I prefer the common definition: "Humility isn't thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less." I remember Donald Miller talking about how many of us view life as a movie... and WE are the main character. But what if everyone regarded everyone else as having equal importance? As the biblical writer of the book of Romans said (12:3), "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you." We can be confident in who God made us to be, and walk humbly as a part of his wonderful creation - side by side, rather than over or under. 

Perhaps the trait that ties it all together for me, then, is openness. By that I mean an openness to possibilities. Whether that is from a secular view of simply being open to the fact that we don't hold all the answers and there could be alternatives we've never thought about, or with the biblical view that Someone does hold all the answers - and it's not us (an openness to God). As for myself, I need to remind myself to be open to the fact that things could always turn out better than I think. It's easy for me to imagine how everything could go wrong, but what if things worked out; what if the planets line up perfectly; what if my wildest dreams come true (or things I've not even thought to imagine)? It's having the attitude the writer of Ephesians had (3:20): "God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us." Yes! Things actually could get BETTER!

I really like being around people like that. Those with a healthy level of confidence, humility, and openness to possibilities. These are also the three main qualities I seek in my own life. I believe the proper balance between them keeps us from the 'sad puppy syndrome' on the one end, as well as the pompous jerk on the other. I wish it formed a better acrostic than 'C.H.O.' but... such is life. In my mind, this is what it looks like to have inner peace, or the "peace that transcends understanding" (Phil. 4:7). Who doesn't want that?