Saturday, February 24, 2007

Distinction vs Mediocrity

As I read the Business Journal today, I came across a page about a construction company in the Sacramento area, that has been awarded the honor of being a WCCC Project Winner for the last five years. Then I asked myself, how could one company get such distinction. My default reaction was to parallel it with the real life situation. Our life is like a construction company. We begin by getting ourselves involved in a relationship, a project, a job, or a ministry in church ( just to name a few examples). All these require commitment and investment. We often do our business in life with our minds set on the benefit we derive in the end. We ask the questions: What am I going to get out of this? What will I gain? How much profit will I get? How much better will I look? What recognition will I get? Will my neighbors or friends look at me with envy afterwards? These are the questions of a common man. These are the questions of an ordinary construction company.

Aragorn the character from the Lord of the Rings said right before he took off to fight in the battle against the forces of darkness, "I leave nothing for myself!" He was all devoted to the cause that he was fighting for. That is a fiction. However, we know of a real story of a man who gave up everything he had including his life so that mankind would have life. He suffered (whipped), he bled (pierced to death), he gave up his pride (spat upon and considered as a thief) and he gave up his throne. Yes, he was Jesus, the King of Kings. If we analyze his situation before the end, we would think it is a tragedy. Not so. Jesus was glorified in heaven and now sits at the right hand of God . Aragorn, the fictional king, was triumphantly crowned King in the end.

How much do we usually leave for ourselves? Yes, it is hard to give beyond what is comfortable. It is hard to imagine giving up the things that make us feel good and secure. We hold on to our comfort zone and we shun risking our time and resources for a good cause. Our sight is short. We tend focus on the events before the end. We forget that there is one more chapter beyond what we see - the awards ceremonies.

Mediocrity takes over because we reserve huge a allowance for the unknown. We refuse to give it all. We desire distinction and yet we skimp on faith.  No wonder there are more ordinary than there are award-winning construction companies. It is no wonder that there are more pseudo followers of Christ than there are Christians.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Sixteen Years Today

Today Tim and I have been married for 16 years! Sixteen years and we still like being married to each other, a lot! May our Lord God continue to bless and guide us.

We have always celebrated our anniversary as a family starting when Shannon was a little baby crying while we ate our anniversary dinner at Sizzler in Morgan Hill. The other day the five of us: Mommy and Daddy, Shannon, Brahms and Miriam went to dine at Zinfandel Grill in Folsom to remember the day when Tim proposed to me. Previously we often did something special just for the two of us on this day. In the past years we either went to see a play, a movie, ate at that fancy restaurant at the San Jose airport called Aero Squadron, ate at not-so-fancy places like Marie Callenders, wrote our state-of-the-marriage letter to each other, went shopping for some jewely, stayed at our favorite hotel on Monterey, another year in Sacramento, or a surprise trip to Seattle.

Today is different because instead of doing something special for the two of us or for our family, we did something special with our Friday-Night bible study. I cooked a nice dinner for all of us and we had fun eating and sharing about our lives. Today we shared the joy of having a beautiful marriage with others. I think we have morphed from being selfish about our anniversary to being service-oriented. That is a good thing!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Nobody Wins In A Draw

There was a child in a first grade class, where I was substitute teaching, who was very unruly. When I asked what his problem was, he gave me the impression that he is on medication (for ADD). "I didn't take my other medicine that's why I'm having a bad day!", he said.

In a different school, I called the attention of a child who was misbehaving. When asked what was wrong, he said "I'm a victim of child-abuse".

I wondered how many times these kids have said the same thing to other people to explain their misbehavior. They are convenient excuses. They are easy to come and reliable. However repeated use of such excuses make them less effective, in fact they become sour.

In chess, this situation is called a draw. A draw can occur when one player repeatedly moves one of his pieces to avoid a mate or losing another piece. Repeated moves occur when one player found success with such move and is now relying only on that one position to succeed. In a draw both players are not capable of advancing because of one player's resistance to take a progressive move.

No one wins in this situation. It may seem safe to end a confrontation in a draw but in reality, both parties end up in a status quo. Progress is hindered when there is no willingness to take risk. The kid who can determine that his behavior is due to his failure to take medication is also mentally capable of knowing that a behavior is inappropriate and therefore should be avoided. As a teacher I feel that I am on the other side of the board. Therefore, the challenge to change the situation in order to avoid a draw is also partly resting on me. It is my role to to encourage this child to make a strong-wise move. Encourage him to be strong and bold in taking responsibility for his own actions and be humble enough to admit that he could improve on his manners. There is one key factor in the success of such attempt: love.

Helen T. Lewis

Helen, the name of the person who owns this blog. Helen is married to a great and loving man and they have three beautiful and smart children. She and her whole family are christians. They love and serve God in many different ways, small and big, in secret and in the eyes of man.

At present Helen is a substitute teacher for the El Dorado County Department of Education in California. In addition to that she is an Adjunct Professor of Horticulture at the Los Rios Community College District - Cosumnes River College (CRC).

She used to be a Horticulturist working on potato research for the Philippine Department of Agriculture and the International Potato Center.

These information will serve as benchmark in understanding some of the things that Helen will write in the future.