Category Archives: Goals

The Prayer of Jabez

About the 6th of April, I began praying the Prayer of Jabez each day. I learned about the prayer from a book by the same name. I must say that my life has been enhanced from making the decision to pray this prayer. It’s not the words, of course, it’s the meaning behind the words that makes the difference. The Prayer of Jabez is a commitment to God and to a higher way of living. It’s that commitment that is the subject of this post.

The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life by Bruce H. Wilkinson explores the relationship that this man Jabez had with his God. The prayer naturally divides into four parts and the book provides a commentary for each part. I think, however, that the last part when Jabez prayed that he might not cause pain should stand on its own as perhaps a fifth part. For me it is just as important to include this in the prayer as the four main parts.

You see, the only thing some people have is their reputation. Consider the story of Ruth. She had no possessions, but she did have a good reputation and it was this reputation that allowed Boaz to love her and ultimately redeem her and Naomi. Therefore, it matters a great deal whether a person causes pain to another whether intentional or not. Memories of past pain or the expectation of pain caused by the reputation of an individual will most certainly have a negative effect on both concerned. To leave out the part of the prayer asking God to not allow oneself to cause another pain is to leave out an equally important part of the complete prayer of Jabez.

The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the two cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar, and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly so that the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They all agreed it was full.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.

The students responded with an unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty spaces between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions, and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else – the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.”

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

The Best Day

Today, my wife gave me a big surprise. She called me at work after school (I teach High School) sounding really sweet. She was already on her way to pick me up before we got off the phone. I had no clue what was in store.

Well, since it was our 2 year and 4 month anniversary, she wanted to do something special and romantic. So, we talked a bit and decided to go on a date and dine out at Makoto’s in Boone. That’s about an hour drive for us, so we had plenty of time to talk and share. About halfway there, she pulled into the Exxon station in Banner Elk at the TyneCastle shopping center. She pulled out an anniversary card and a small gift wrapped in green frog paper. I opened the box first and found a pregnancy test wrapped up in a plastic bag. It had two pink lines. I looked up at her face and saw the most beautiful, humble smile I have ever seen on her lovely face. And I leaned over and kissed her.

I opened the card next and read it aloud. I was going to be a daddy and my wife had made the occasion of telling me so special. She said she did a triple take when the test results appeared. It took her a while to decide how to tell me, but I think she did a spectacular job. And the setting was beautiful. It was a misty evening with light rain giving all the tree trunks a beautiful, dark wet look that contrasted with the fall foliage. I tell you the scenery was breathtaking! Even with the rain and the mist, the trees glowed with color. It was the most beautiful place for a most beautiful revelation and I will always treasure that memory.

Well, after a little while I went into the store to get her a caffeine-free drink and a Slim Jim beef jerky – if they had them. They didn’t so I returned with a Sierra Mist Free and drove to Makoto’s. We had a dinner of sesame chicken and water and afterwards I drove us home. Coming down the mountains, we got to enjoy the colors of the leaves one more time before night fell.

And now I’m writing this post. I hope you get to experience this in your own life. I expect I’ll be writing more now that I’ve broken the ice and have something worth telling. At least for me, this is something worth telling and I figure there are people out there who will enjoy it with me too.

Rubik’s Cube

When I was younger, I always thought it would be very cool to know how to solve a Rubik’s cube. Well, today I have achieved that goal!

When I was very young I remember having a Rubik’s cube and visiting my dad at work. He taught at the same high school that I teach at now. There was a student there that could solve a rubik’s cube and would solve it for me. So, I sent my cube and it came back solved. It was just the coolest thing to me at the time!

So, fast forward a decade or so when I was on vacation in Myrtle Beach. There’s this little shop on the strip just a little north of main street (where the Pavilion used to stand) and they had this little book called Solving the Cube for $1. Yes, it only cost one dollar! I’ve had that book for years and have used it to solve that same Rubik’s cube for years.

Well, some students took my cube over the summer a year ago. So, I got a new one over this past summer and my students this semester have been playing with it. I’ve been using that little book to solve the cube and slowly but surely I’ve memorized the moves to solve any mixed up Rubic’s Cube.

I guess this post may sound a little strange to some people, but to me it’s kind of cool knowing that I can do this. It’s one of those little goals in life that you don’t ever really expect to accomplish and you don’t put a lot of effort into. But the fact that this particular goal was accomplished still means something to you. And that’s very cool.