Category Archives: choices


One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is leftovers. For some reason everything tastes even better the next day.  Maybe 24 hours gives the sage in the dressing and all spice in the pumpkin pie time to really do its work.  When I was a kid Mom would bone the turkey into bite-sized pieces and hide them in the freezer.  Every brown sack school lunch the next week would have white bread, mayonnaise, and almost-thawed-turkey sandwich. Fabulous!
By now most of the leftover turkey has been finished off or frozen, we’ve tackled Black Friday with Excel spread sheets and the relatives have gone back home. Peace on earth has returned, maybe.
Thanksgiving can set the stage for wonderful memories or a nightmarish 4 week dread of Christmas.  And it’s all based on leftovers … not the food kind.
There’s a gloom that can creep in and stick like tree sap if we let it.  The sheer adrenaline crash after the long weekend is enough to exhaust most of us.  And dealing with a cracky, rude uncle, or a mother whose expectations will never be met, or entitled kids home from college will wear down the strongest. Those people may all be gone, but the snide, sarcastic comments and lack of consideration have left many just wanting to sleep until January 2.
My pastor friend Jim Fryer posted today, “There are over seven billion people on this earth. Are you going to let one person ruin your day?”  I think that’s one way of asking if you’re going to let Aunt Martha’s comment about your tough pie crust or your dad’s joking about your lack of football skills hang around like spoiled leftovers.  
So, toss all that in the trash and take it out.  According to the music piped in at the mall “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”.  The exciting thing is we get to choose; recount our blessings and enjoy the holidays or nibble on emotional leftovers for the next month.  What will you do?

A knee jerk response to this question would leave you kicking yourself: if given a choice, would you take $3 million cash now or a penny to be doubled in value every day for 31 days? Cash in hand may feel good, but if you take the penny, on day 31 you will be able to go to the bank with $10,737,418.24. The penny won’t pull into the lead until day 30. On day 31 the tiny compounding penny more than triples the $3 million.

Reading Darren Hardy’s book, The Compound Effect, I’m seeing how small, seemingly insignificant decisions we make, over time, have the potential to be life changing. Over time is where the catch comes in. We’ve worked ourselves into a have-it-now mentality so over time sounds almost like something from the 18th century. I know I end up frustrated when my computer is not working on turbo speed, or when Droid drops calls. It’s what we’ve all gotten accustomed to and watch out if we are inconvenienced.

The compounding effect has roots in patience and stick-to-it-ness and it reaches into every area of our lives, not just our money. My friend Steve dropped 16 pounds over six months all because he simply gave up drinking soda. What if he had quit after the first week because he hadn’t seen any change? I was amazed watching a 75 year old woman compete in a half marathon. I wondered how long it had taken her to be able to run 13.1 miles. As challenging as it might have been, she obviously hadn’t given up.

Adding or subtracting on a consistent basis has a rewarding payoff. The investment is time. On the flip side, little things can also chip away at us and over time the results leave us wondering what happened. Divorce, overwhelming debt, and a mean critical spirit don’t happen over night, but over time too. The compounding effect can work for or against us. Choices about what initially seems insignificant, over time, can be life altering; for good and not so good.

It seems there are rules, standards and regulations for everything anymore. I’m sure it’s partly due to the increase in our sue everyone mentality. I understand the need for laws, otherwise there would be total chaos, but you just about have to read an information manual before you do anything to make sure you’re within legal boundaries.

I was asked not long ago, “What kind of rules did you have when your kids were growing up?” It would be so easy if parents could pull out a handbook with standard rules like HIPAA and OSHA have. Clearly every family is different and each has to decide on house rules or, just like any other organization, it could be disastrous. It would be much too simple if the same thing worked for everyone.

Obviously rules and boundaries change and expand as the kids grow up. The don’t punch your sibling rule becomes a given the older they get, then maybe not. I think the key is to be conscious of how much responsibility your kids can handle and establish boundaries accordingly.

By the time our kids were in high school, we pretty much had only one rule in the house, The Do Right Rule. Jim Brawner strongly felt by then all three needed to be able to think on their own and make decisions based on their understanding of what was right and what was wrong while they were still at home. No, it wasn’t a free-for-all, but more like a gradual passing of responsibility.

We’ve all seen situations where parents rule with extreme control in fear their children will revolt. Also out of fear the kids behave perfectly, but once they’re out of the house, look out. At some point, doing what’s right needs to come out of a person’s own convictions, not their parents’, the church’s or their friends’. It’s a major facet in growing up. Some are still trying to figure it out at 40.

Jim Brawner’s Do Right Rule was simple and no one was confused.

“Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight…”
-Deuteronomy 6:18