A Book Review of “Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D. (As it relates to the Christian life)

We had been extra busy with our travels this past year. (Belize, Oman, Jamaica, Trinidad, Malaysia. Not to mention all of our travels inside the States.) I needed a breather. I had big plans for this winter. Just some quiet time to refocus and recharge. I was going to have a staycation to read, write, study, pray and fast.

Besides being a Pastor, Global Missions Director, business owner, and farmer, my husband also takes ministers on guided duck hunts. It’s not uncommon for him and my boys to be away a few days each week during duck season, hosting clients. That being the case, once the holidays have passed and the last half of duck season is in full swing, is usually the perfect time for me to plan my Staycation.

Things don’t always (rarely) go as we plan. Unexpected circumstances usually dictate that some measure of impromptu/ad lib living be implemented. We live ever-changing lives from day to day, and often, hour to hour.

When my grandson’s preschool closing unexpectedly, naturally, Memaw was recruited to fill in keeping him a couple days a week. Mind you, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but the Little Prince is a high energy, full throttle, hands on kind of guy. Nothing else gets accomplished when he’s on the premises. This meant that everything I would have done on those days was shuffled to other days. Hence, not much time for a staycaytion in December, plus all of the holiday decorating, cooking, shopping, and end of year parties.

Then there was the weather. Everyone knows you can’t control the weather. It’s winter, so you expect it to be cold. Single digit cold, however, is too cold. Now, you may not know how that affects duck hunting. Ducks need open water to find food. If they don’t have open water, they stay put, usually on wildlife refuges. If they aren’t flying off the refuges to look for food, there are no ducks for hunters to hunt. Hence, the reason I had anxious hunters at home for two weeks of my staycation. That was my last week of December, and my first week of January.

Lastly, came the flu. Influenza. Most of you know it is as nasty as it sounds. First my son, next my daughter, then myself. We actually cancelled midweek service at Church because so many of our families had been stricken by this malevolent bugger. Perhaps you think that gave me extra time to stay at home and do my thing…really? You thought that???

Maybe you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Mr. N. Flu Enza, or perhaps it’s just been a while, and you have forgotten his particular charms. Body aching like it went through a car crusher. Skin sizzling like it’s about to combust from fever. Limbs convulsing from being chilled with hypothermic blood…Happy Staycation to me!

I said all that to say this, things change. That’s just living. It’s important for us to learn how to adjust to changes in a healthy way. Enter this little jewel…

My changing circumstances reminded me of a little book titled, “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, M.D. You can find it at SPENCERJOHNSON.COM or AMAZON.COM.

It’s a parable about two little mice, named Sniff and Scurry, and two little people, named Hem and Haw. These four characters represent four distinct ways of responding to changing circumstances within each of us. Sniff and Scurry represent our simple ways of responding, while Hem and Haw represent our more emotional responses.

In the story, the mice and the little people get up every day and find their way through a maze to find cheese at various cheese stations located throughout its corridors. They have been enjoying a large stash of cheese at Cheese Station C for an extended time, and become quite comfortable and satisfied with their situation.

The cheese at Cheese Station C, however, begins to dwindle, over time and little by little. One day the mice and the little people arrive at the station, as they have done for a long time, only to discover the cheese is completely gone.

Sniff and Scurry do what their names imply. They immediately put on their running shoes and begin to scurry about and sniff out in the maze to find more cheese. Hem and Haw, on the other hand, have purely emotional responses. Their reactions range from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, as do ours most often, when our circumstances change.

Finally, Haw decides he must go out into the maze in search of new cheese. He knows if he stays, he will die. He feels empathy for his friend, Hem, but cannot afford to wait any longer, and sets out on his own. In the end, he does find new cheese and learns a lot about how to react to change in the process, leaving a handwritten trail for Hem should he decide to come in search of new cheese, as well.

So, you may be wondering how this little parable applies to your life? How is this a spiritual concept? “Who Moved My Cheese?” isn’t written from a Christian perspective. It teaches a principle, however, that can be applied to any area of our lives.

Things change. That’s just living. Learn how to cope in a healthy manner. Click To Tweet

Nothing stays the same. Weather, seasons, finances, jobs, health, age, relationships, opinions, Church, responsibilities. These are all extremely fluid.

What you want, and feel you need, in each of these areas is the metaphorical cheese. As Christians, our relationship with God is the cheese.

When circumstances beyond our control change in any area of our lives, we have a choice of how we will respond. Often we think that to respond in the simplistic ways of scurrying around and sniffing out a new venue for keeping our relationship right with God during difficult times is backward and foolish. We usually tend to use our highly intellectual or highly emotional reasoning.

Telling God how unfair our situation is. How we don’t deserve what has come upon us. How angry we are, even at God Himself, for allowing this change of circumstances. How we are going to refuse to be budged from what we’ve always done, and always thought, and always seen results from.

Denial can be deadly. Click To Tweet Panic paralyzes. Click To Tweet Stubbornness is a form of rebellion, which is sin. Click To Tweet

Anything worth having, takes maintenance, and once that something is gone, it is worth seeking after.

As Christians, we must always remain focused and aware of the Cheese -Our relationship with God.

When circumstances in our maze of life begin to change, we should respond in the most simple way in order to locate more Cheese. Neither anger, fear, distrust, accusations, nor any other emotional response, will solve the problem of locating new Cheese. Nor will any highly intellectual program, performance or plan.

A friend of mine, Scott Armstrong (@PastorSA), recently tweeted, “Date the methods. Marry the message.” How simple, yet profound is that? The sooner we figure out that it’s not the methods that sustain us, but our relationship with God (the Cheese), the less traumatic it will be to put our noses and knees to the ground in search of Him.

Quite simply, the only way to find what new thing God is doing through your changing circumstances is to search diligently for Him. It’s what Sniff and Scurry would do.

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

As always, feel free to leave a comment, share to social media, email me at PAT@PATVICK.COM, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE to my mailing list.

Warm Regards, -Pat

Sweet Little Hand In Mine

This morning at Church, while waiting for service to start, I snapped this sweet photo of mine and my grandson’s hands. The sweetness of the moment reminded me of a memory twenty-five years earlier.

My grandson’s daddy, my oldest child, was three, the age of my grandson now.

I was standing in the kitchen, holding his hand. My husband’s Great Aunt Edna was visiting.

She was a classy lady. Always well-dressed, hair fixed, nails manicured. Her home was full of polished antique furniture, draped with crocheted doilies. She brought out the good china for every day occasions, and no one would dare think of accidentally breaking a piece. Kids behaved in her presence because of the formality that she brought into a room with her.

If her appearance and carriage weren’t enough to cause you to take notice, when she spoke, everyone listened. With one sentence, it was apparent that she was a genteel, southern lady.

Aunt Edna saw me holding my son’s hand, and commented wisely, “Right now his little hand fits inside yours, but it won’t be long before yours will fit inside his.”

How right she was.

One day, when Logan was a teenager, he held my hand in his and said, “Look Mom, Aunt Edna was right.”

And so she was.

Through the years, a squeeze of our hands has always been an unspoken conversation between us. Now that my boy has his own boy, those old memories carry an extra sweetness.

As I looked at my grandson’s hand on mine this morning, I was thankful.

Thankful that Aunt Edna spoke a word into my life all those years ago that would cause me to value time with my children.

Thankful that even though they are grown, they were all raised in Church.

Thankful that through the crazy busyness of our lives, we somehow made the time to instill into our kids that God comes first, and Church is a priority, not just something we add on to our lives.

Thankful that all my family was in Church together on the last service of the year.

Thankful that all my children and daughter-in-love are used in the ministry.

Thankful that my three year old grandson loves to raise his hands and worship Jesus.

I’m thankful that men and women of God are my children’s heroes. Click To Tweet

Ma’am, Sir, as the old year rolls up like a scroll that has been read, and the new year is spread out like a blank page, I urge you to take your children’s and grandchildren’s hands in yours.

Three or forty-three, no matter.

Give them a squeeze. Study them carefully. They won’t look like that next year, or in ten years, or in twenty.

Show them by example how to reach high in worship, how to locate the books of the Bible, how to play an instrument in praise, how to clean the Church house.

Time is no respecter of persons. When those youthful hands are wrinkled with age, they’ll be glad someone taught them what is most important.

Trust me.

Warm Regards, -Pat

Seasons Change, So Don’t Be Afraid Of What’s Around The Corner

Photo by Paul Green on Unsplash

This time of the year always makes me a bit wistful, like something is slipping through my fingers that I want to grasp and hold tightly to. Beach sand. Warm breezes. An incomplete thought. Relationships.

This unsettledness seems to be brought on by two things. One is the crisp morning air. I can look out the window and see the horse and cows lift their faces in the morning coolness, breathing it in. Even they know change is coming.

The second is my hummingbird feeder. In the middle of summer, it is the center of much activity. Once the weather starts to cool, it hangs idle. I leave nectar in it longer than most, because you never know when a lone traveler will need energy for her journey. But sooner or later, all my beautiful jeweled hummers leave for warmer places.

It reminds me of a time in my life about twenty-five years ago. We were living in Birmingham, Alabama, and were very active in the Church there. There was a young man in the Church who was from Florida, but was attending college in Birmingham. He spent a lot of time in our home. Everyone who ever met him, loved him. When it came time for his graduation, and for him to move back home, I was so distraught that I could hardly stand it. I just couldn’t bear the thought of him not being in our day to day lives.

Fast forward a quarter of a century…Our family is now very involved with the Global Missions department of the United Pentecostal Church International, something we could have never foreseen twenty-five years ago. My husband schedules Missionaries to be in Church services all over our state while they are traveling on deputation.

Would you believe that young man from our Birmingham days is now involved in the Associates In Missions program of the United Pentecostal Church?! This means that one day in the future, this man’s family will travel through our state on deputation and my husband is likely to be the one scheduling his services in our Churches. I am looking forward to catching up and enjoying with him the season of life he is in now.

As I’ve grown older and matured a little, I’ve realized that not everyone that God brings into my life is going to be a permanent fixture. We must allow people to follow the path God is leading them down. There are seasons in each of our lives. Often, those seasons overlap, and occasionally diverge.

We must allow people to follow the path God is leading them down. Click To Tweet

People come and go in our lives for many reasons. Schooling, jobs, illness, vacations, military, dreams, passions, travels, bad decisions, good decisions, death and endless other reasons that we often have no control over.

Just remember, life and relationships are a series of changing seasons. Whoever God has placed in your life during this season of time, be a true friend to them. Cherish them. Add value to their lives. Then, when a season of change is in the air, don’t hold on so tightly that you, nor they, can enjoy what is right around the corner.

Life is a series of changing seasons. Click To Tweet

INVITATION FOR FEEDBACK

  • Have you ever been afraid of change?
  • Do you or someone you love feel the need to control every aspect of a relationship?
  • Have you ever held on so tightly that a relationship was damaged?
  • How has God taught you to trust Him through changing seasons?
  • Has God ever restored a relationship that you thought was lost?

As always, please feel free to leave a comment, share to social media, subscribe to my newsletter, and email me: Pat@PATVICK.COM.

 

 

Seasons Change

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

 

This time of the year always makes me a bit wistful, like something is slipping through my fingers that I want to grasp and hold tightly to. Beach sand. Warm breezes. An incomplete thought. Relationships.

This unsettledness seems to be brought on by two things. One is the crisp morning air. I can look out the window and see the horse and cows lift their faces in the morning coolness, breathing it in. Even they know change is coming.

The second is my hummingbird feeder on the back porch. In the middle of summer, it is the center of much activity. Once the weather starts to cool, it hangs idle. I leave nectar in it longer than most, because you never know when a lone traveler will need energy for her journey. But sooner or later, all my beautiful jeweled hummers leave for warmer places.img_0800

It reminds me of a time in my life about twenty-five years ago. We were living in Birmingham, Alabama, and were very active in the Church there. There was a young man in the Church who was from Florida, but was attending college in Birmingham. He spent a lot of time in our home. Everyone who ever met him, loved him. When it came time for his graduation, and for him to move back home, I was so distraught that I could hardly stand it. I just couldn’t bear the thought of him not being in our day to day lives.

Fast forward a quarter of a century…Our family is now very involved with Global Missions, something we could have never foreseen twenty-five years ago. My husband schedules Missionaries to be in Church services all over our state while they are traveling on deputation.

Would you believe that young man from our Birmingham days is now involved in the Associates In Missions program of the United Pentecostal Church?! This means that one day, in the relatively near future, this man’s family will travel through our state on deputation and my husband is likely to be the one scheduling his services in our Churches. I am looking so forward to catching up and enjoying his new season right along with him for a while.

As I’ve grown older and matured a little, I’ve realized that not everyone that God brings into my life is going to be a permanent fixture. People have to follow the path that God is leading them down. There are seasons in each of our lives, and occasionally those seasons overlap.

People come and go in our lives for many reasons. Schooling, jobs, illness, vacations, military, dreams, passions, travels, bad decisions, good decisions, death and endless other reasons that we often have no control over.

Just remember it’s all about seasons. Whoever God has placed in your life during this season of time, be a true friend to them. Cherish them. Add value to their lives. Then when a season of change is in the air, don’t hold on so tightly that you nor they can enjoy what is right around the corner.

As for me, I’m going to leave my hummingbird feeder up for another week or two. When I’m sure there won’t be anymore visitors, I’ll take it down, wash it up and store it until Spring. Until then, I’m going to turn my attention to the feeder in my front yard. It hasn’t had much traffic through the summer months. Now that cooler weather is coming, my winter birds will be getting hungry.

Warm Regards, -Pat

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QUESTIONS TO PONDER:

1. Have you lost someone and had no control over the situation?

2. If so, how does this affect your present relationships?

3. Do you hold on too tightly, or perhaps choose not to get too close?

4. Do you allow Jesus to be your constant and most treasured Friend?

*Please feel free to leave a comment, share content that has blessed you and link back to http://patvick.com.

Camma’s Tribute

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“Camma” 3/04 – 9/12/16

My oldest son’s childhood friend passed away a few days ago. Logan worked for that little golden puppy the whole summer of his fourteenth year. It was hard work and quite a bit of responsibility working at the kennel where she was born, but he didn’t mind at all. He passed the time making big plans and dreaming big dreams for the two of them.

Every hour that he put into cleaning kennels, he was also being mentored by the best dog trainer around. Oh, he learned how to muck a pen, for sure, but he also learned self discipline, patience and respect. As he followed that old trainer around and did his bidding day after day, Logan thought he was working for the price of a puppy, when he was really learning to be a man.

Once he brought that wiggly canine home, they were inseparable. They tromped through every field and swamp within walking distance, and when they got tired, they rode. The four wheeler, the ranger, the truck, the boat. Camma loved to ride. Logan would drive and she would sit up tall and smile.

One of his big plans was to make her a great duck hunting dog. She never actually cared much for jumping into icy water or holding feathery birds in her mouth. She was a good sport, though, and would do anything that Logan asked of her. Mice. Now that was something Camma got excited about. One little rodent darting through the grass or a scurry under a brush pile would turn that pudgy pup into a well honed weapon of mouse destruction. Once we all stopped trying to make her something she wasn’t, everyone was happier for it. She was some kind of mouser.

There was only one time in Camma’s twelve years that she and Logan had a true falling out. He had wanted a litter of puppies so badly. All of the arrangements were made and the whole family anticipated sweet puppy breath. The big day arrived in the middle of a horrid, storm-ridden cold snap. You can imagine the pandemonium that ensued when Logan found brand new puppies scattered all over the muddy kennel. Of course, Momma and the whole brood were immediately brought into the basement and made comfortable.

We grieved over the first pup that didn’t make it through the storm. We comforted the anxious mom when she laid on the second pup and it didn’t recover. When Logan happened upon her intentionally doing away with a third pup, I was afraid for her life. The remaining three pups were raised on a bottle, and Camma went back to doing what she did best, being a boy’s best friend.

Logan came through his teenage years with Camma at his side. It wasn’t uncommon to see them in a distant field, coming home from their latest adventure. Logan would be talking, and Camma would be listening. I’m sure she heard all of his woes about girls and siblings and being a Pastor’s kid.

1 Corinthians 13:11 says, “…when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Logan’s friendship with Camma must not have been childish. After he got married and moved out on his own, he would still come over every couple of weeks to visit his childhood friend. I would look out the window and see them coming through the field. Logan would be talking, and Camma would be listening. Often they would be riding the ranger. Logan would be driving, and Camma would be sitting up tall and smiling.

Yes, today there is sadness because of the freshly turned soil under the pine trees. Yet, there is also much thankfulness for the memories of a little yellow pup and how she helped to raise the big, strong man who lives down the road.

-Pat Vick (All Rights Reserved 9/16/16)