Are you in it for the Long Haul?

baylors little treeDriving by Baylor this morning on my way to Common Grounds Coffee House, I noticed a field of yuong, recently planted oak trees.  Here is a picture of one of them.

Upon seeing this field, I remembered, for some reason, that it had once been occupied by a building. This building had once been a set of stores.

I observed that there are very few trees planted, and they are rather spread out.  I wondered why they hadn’t planted more trees.

Then I recalled all the beautiful oaks that spread across the Baylor campus, and, indeed, across Waco.  Full grown, they aren’t meant to grow too closely together.

This field is years, probably decades, from its intended beauty.

Then I thought of all the quick fixes we are so prone towards in our society.  We want change, we want healing, we want things to be better, and we want it NOW.

By planting these young trees, Baylor University is saying that they are in it for the long haul.  Beauty and presence over years, decades, perhaps centuries.

What are you and I in for the long haul?  What kinds of “better” are we willing to work toward and wait for full fruition?

Blame

It is NOT my fault.  I didn’t get the email.

Wasn’t that someone else’s responsibility?

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell,* to the unquenchable fire.* 45And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell.*,* 47And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell,* (Mark 9)

I don’t know about you, but I have developed quite an ability to blame others.  I don’t usually blame my hand, foot, or eye, though, so perhaps I can avoid Jesus’ recommended treatment for such.

I received a request today for a report.  It was actually due today, so it was a reminder that it was due more than it was a request for a report.  My mind instantly went into blame mode: “I didn’t get the notice a week or two ago that this would be due!” I told myself.  I started thinking of who I could blame, and I wasn’t sure.  I was only sure that it wasn’t MY fault.

I even talked it out with Rachel.

Then I fairly quickly remembered that I had preached the above passage from Mark 9 just a couple of weeks ago.  I talked to the youth about how quickly they are to tell us (staff) when something isn’t their fault or responsibility.  I also suggested life would be better if, instead of wasting energy on blaming, we all took responsibility for our own actions

And, yes, sometimes those of others.

I still don’t know for sure if I received the appropriate notice last week that this report was due.  Just before posting this, however, I sat down, typed out and emailed the report.  It was that easy.

It took a few minutes to get started; I was still stewing a little about having not gotten the notice, about how it wasn’t my fault.

blah, blah, blah.

It is done, and I’ve got the rest of the day now NOT to worry about it or blame someone.

You wouldn’t really blame your hand, would you, if you used your hand to sin?

How much time and energy do you waste blaming others for things?  Don’t you have better things do to with that time and energy?

Customer Service

What do you do when you can’t sleep?  Sometimes I surf. Surf the web, in case there was any doubt. This morning I came across this bit about customer service at msn.com.  It is titled “10 Companies Americans love to hate.”

It reminded me of a customer service call I made yesterday.  I won’t identify the company.  The automated answerer picked up, gave me enough information to assure me I had dialed correctly, then placed my in a holding pattern.

I didn’t wait too long – a minute, perhaps 2.  But when I got a human on the other end, this is what I heard: “Hello, this is Millie, may I help you?”

All of which was great, except that Millie spoke with a tone of voice that left me thinking I ought to offer to help her.  She spoke sadly and slowly; did you know there was a female Eeyore in customer service?

My first thoughts were all about how the company I had called is losing it and they shouldn’t even be open any more if this is what they offer up as customer service.

Instead of saying this, of course, I shared my issue with Millie, and she slowly asked a couple of (reasonable) questions to be sure she understood what I had told her.  She then asked if I would mind being put on hold while she checked into it.  I said no, and waited.

I hadn’t caught what I would suggest as the perfect customer service personality, but I got my question(s) answered promptly and without difficulty.

The process included me remembering that on the other end of the phone line there happened to be another human being.

Since the way people treat people is a big part of my calling and passion, I will continue to assess every customer service; in fact, almost every conversation, for how interaction and relationship happen.

But I’ll also try and remember that, much as I prefer a human to a machine on the other end of the phone line, too many of us are far too fast to check our own humanity at the dial tone when we feel we have been wronged.

Want good customer service?  try being a good customer.  It won’t always fix everything, but it will make your day better, and, in turn, probably that of several others.

Sustainable Argument

I’ve blogged several times about water conservation and usage. (Here, here, here, and here, for a few)

Word gets around (apparently) because someone asked me recently if I thought water down the drain was gone for good and not reusable.

Of course not, I replied.

Then why did I care how much water I used?

Here’s the best argument I have for why we (generally) ought to learn to use less water.

Even during this time of economic downturn, the world is developing at a pretty good clip.  Though more than a billion people still live on less than $2 a day, and a huge number do not have easy access to safe water, these numbers are decreasing.

I believe these numbers can, and should, continue to decrease, and that this doesn’t mean (necessarily) that the wealthy have to get less wealthy.

It does mean, however, that more of us will have to share a finite amount of fresh water.

If all 6 billion people on the planet had access to fresh water, would there be enough for all of them to use the same amount per day as you and I do?  I don’t think so.

If those of us who have plenty, and access to more wter than we could possibly need, would take the time to intentionally cut back on our waste, the finite amout of water we have would go farther as more and more people continue to gain reasonable access to it.

Wise Water Use

In August last year, after it had been really hot for several weeks, I realized I wasn’t watering our vegetable garden enough.  I had been watering enough to keep the plants alive, but barely.  Nothing was producing.

About the same time I noticed our air-conditioner drain that is not 20 feet from the vegetable garden.  Here was a free source of water!

I put a 5 gallon bucket underneath the spout. I was surprised to find the bucket full the next morning.  It was full again that evening.

During the hottest part of the summer, we have an extra 10 gallons of water a day to keep plants going, and this water is absolutely free.

What ideas/discoveries have you made to capture/reuse water?

A Worthwhile Cause?

Not every cause promises to change one’s life.  If I jump on board with this one, mine would surely be very different. I read this morning, on a General Board of Church and Society note, about Killer Coke.

I’ve blogged about my love of Diet Coke before.  In fact, I found a post about the stuff from August 2005 – was I really blogging back then?  Giving up Diet Coke in supprot of this cause would be a drastic change for me.

dietcokeI am going to read more about the protest, and I’ll let you know.