One day last spring I discovered these two guests visiting my patio – young crows who rested from their flight lessons by perching on my air conditioner and outdoor loveseat. I studied the crows from my window and snapped a few photos while their parents squawked overhead, then I left the crows alone to complete their important work while I considered how we all learn to fly.

Leave the nest (or you will be pushed). To discover anything new, we have to move out of our comfort zones and explore dangerous, unknown areas. If we linger in one place too long, we outgrow our safe surroundings and find ourselves forced to change our perspective.

Let go. We can’t learn to fly while clinging to the past. We have to release those burdens that hold us back and make an effort to propel ourselves forward.

Expect to fall. Often we find ourselves moving downwards before we can rise. Sometimes we have to hit the ground before finding the way to lift ourselves up again.

Keep trying. Regular practice builds strength and power. We may have to make several attempts before we develop the stamina we need to succeed.

Encourage others. While baby birds struggle, their parents perch in the trees overhead, calling to their offspring on the ground. When we gain knowledge and understanding, it is important to offer encouragement to those who are still learning to pick themselves up.

These plaques hang on my office wall, reminders that to reach our dreams, we need courage to leave our safe spaces, commitment to do the hard work, and vision to reach heights we’ve only dreamed of before. This week I hope you take a leap and find yourself able to fly.

Where are your dreams leading you now? How can you step out and learn something new?

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This week the car needed new tires and wheel alignment, an oil change and a brake exam. Waiting for our car to undergo this necessary overhaul reminded me of all the time I have spent waiting in repair shops while guys in matching blue shirts installed a new battery, oil filter, water pump, timing belt, or brake pads. Here are a few things I learned while spending time in the auto shop waiting room.

Maintenance is important. Whether in relationships, roles, or reaching our goals, we have to pay attention to what is most important to us. Taking care of small problems early prevents larger problems from developing later.

Name the problem before planning the repair. In life, we can’t fix what we can’t identify. We have to understand what the real problems are before we can choose and apply the correct solutions.

Use waiting time to regroup and rest. We all have periods in life when we have to wait for the right circumstances before moving on, and impatiently pacing won’t make those happen any faster. Wise people use down time to relax and reflect on where they are headed before moving forward.

Make sure all the work is done before returning to the road. Sometimes we have to work on ourselves before we are ready to accept new challenges and assignments. Doing the necessary upgrades before moving on prevents future breakdowns so we don’t end up in the same place we started.

This week our car repairs took little time before we were on the road again. I am grateful for the many ways God reminds me of his presence and keeps me moving in the right direction.

What can you do the next time you find yourself waiting? How will you know when it’s time to move on?

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Know thyself. ~~ Socrates

Sometimes I need to pause and reconsider what I know about the world and my place in it. I need to redefine what I believe and what I still need to figure out before I proceed with a choice or a plan. This week I am endeavoring to know what I know, and here is what I’ve figured out so far.

I value true friendship. I recently reconnected with someone I haven’t talked to in 15 years. For hours, we discussed the news about our children, our careers, our address changes, the death of her stepson. Our lives have changed, but much has remained remarkably the same. That conversation reminded me how much I appreciate true connections with people who care about me despite the time and distance between us. Knowing I have true friends encourages me to share my friendship with others who need my support.

I believe God always has a plan. Spring begins a new season, a time of hope and promise for the future. I am ending a long winter of rest and contemplation; but I know I have been constantly growing, exploring, and expanding my interests to new areas. I am eager to embrace new possibilities. This year we began attending a new church where we’ve been warmly welcomed and invited into a large and extended family. I’m excited about the possibilities that lie ahead, because I know God always has a plan laid out for me, and I can’t wait to see where it leads.

I have learned that I am always learning. Last month I celebrated another birthday and spent an evening enjoying pizza and cake with family, the people who mean the most to me. As I grow older, I realize I still have much to learn about life and what is truly important. As I learn more about what I know, I realize there is still much I don’t understand. I am always questioning, wondering, asking for answers; and I am always grateful to find new leads. I look forward to following new directions from God, finding new places to explore, and discovering new horizons.

Thank you to all who read these words, share my friendship, and help me see that we still have much to learn together. Thank you for teaching me and reminding me that we are not alone on our travels through this world. I pray you are richly blessed in faith and friendship today!

What are you learning today? How have your friendships contributed to the lessons you’ve learned?

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It has been a month for staying indoors. Winter storms and freezing rain made driving dangerous. Streets and parking lots became icy pools. I’ve enjoyed the warm and safe confines of my cozy home, but I look forward to spring when the sky grows warm and the world feels welcoming again. I’m excited to greet the new experiences that present themselves with sunny days and balmy nights.

But in truth, every morning of any season presents an opportunity to try something new. Each day is a chance to begin a different journey. We don’t have to wait for a date on a calendar or a change in the weather to begin again. God gives us many occasions to open the door and follow the path he has planned for us, and each morning we are free to step out and explore a promising future.

Why are you waiting to begin something new? This morning, I pray you strike out for a changing horizon. Remember God is always with you on your travels.

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I stood in the checkout line of the dollar store, preparing to pay for my small haul of toothpaste and tissues. As the woman in front of me gathered up her bags, she suddenly turned and stuck a $10 bill in my hand. “Pay it forward sometime,” she said, and then she was gone before I could stammer, “Um, thank you.

Paying it forward means giving to others what someone has given to you. I can’t always pay back the people who have helped me or shown me kindness over the years, but I can pay it forward by helping or showing kindness to someone else. Our gifts don’t have to be financial contributions to shoppers in the checkout line. There are many ways to show our care and concern, and this year, I plan to focus on paying it forward to people I encounter.

I can listen. We learn the most from simply listening to what others have to say. This year I will respect others by listening and paying attention to their words.

I can invest time. We make a difference by spending time in the lives of others. This year I will serve by interacting and spending more time with people I care about.

“When Jesus went out he saw a great multitude; and he was moved with compassion for them” (Matthew 14:14).

I can choose to care. We connect and build relationships by caring about the needs of others. This year I will choose to remember Jesus’ example and offer compassion to the people in my community.

How will you choose to pay it forward this year? How can you show attention and care for the people you meet?

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Many years ago I spent my days teaching a kindergarten prep program for the school district. While I taught my students about sharing toys and rhyming words, I learned a few lessons as well.

We learn something new every day. Each day is an opportunity to discover and explore new ideas, experiences, and relationships. We never outgrow the desire to learn, and when we remain open to new possibilities, every day can be an exciting adventure.

As we grow stronger, we will climb higher. Life is about testing our limits, and we never stop growing and developing new abilities. When we are not afraid to face new challenges, extend our reach, and grab for a higher bar, eventually we will arrive at the top.

Friendships can be fluid. Sometimes people join us for a while, teach us what we need to learn in that season, and then move on to interactions with others. When we love the people who share our lives, and remain open to discovering new friendships, we find that we always have the relationships we need when we need them.

Play outside every day. We live on a great and beautiful planet of changing seasons and endless horizons. We are never too old to find wonder in the world around us. When we take time to notice new sights and appreciate the beauty God created, we experience joy.

Wash your hands. While playing outdoors is fun, it is important to clean up when we go back to class. We are responsible for taking care of ourselves, and when we spend the time properly maintaining our health, we stay strong and available to care for others.

Today I pray you love and learn, play and grow. Always know God is at the head of your class.

What have you learned from your experiences with children in your care? What do you want to teach the children in your life?

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