This last Sunday, my pastor's sermon was on "reaping and sowing" gifts and blessings. This stayed on my mind most of the day, not only in the realm of my spiritual life, but my family and business life as well.

The main thrust of his sermon was that many times we reap blessings that others have sown (like when my neighbor brought me a huge bag of snap beans from her garden - I didn't ask for them, I had nothing to do with raising them, but I sure was glad to get them, and they are going to taste great!). We get so used to the idea that we don't have to sow our own "seed", that we learn to depend on others providing for us. We never learn to sow for ourselves, so we can bless ourselves, our families and those around us. This reaches out into all areas of our lives.

Then later Sunday afternoon, I was walking in my yard, checking out the bird feeders and looking at the flowers, when I came up to one of our fig trees.

The tree was full of unripe fruit, just waiting for the sun and the rain to help it finish it's job for the year. It just stood there, soaking up the water and the sun, turning those little green knobs into delicious fruit that can be made into all kinds of good things to eat.

The more I thought about the sermon and the tree, the more it made sense to me. That fig tree stands there, during rain storms, droughts, high winds and hot days. It keeps on being a fig tree, just doing it's job, not letting the sun or the wind or the heavy rain change it's mind.

We need to be that way. We need to get up every morning, and be who we're supposed to be. We don't need to wait for someone else to do things for us. We need to be pro-active, which means that we can no longer say, "it's not my fault". We need to own our own problems and challenges, and learn to do something about them. We need to take our problems, which is anything that will try to keep us from being what we're supposed to be, and figure out a way to overcome those challenges and be a better person. If you can't do it by yourself, learn to network! Ask your peers or colleagues how they would handle the challenge. Don't do it in a complaining way, just ask for general advice and see what comes up - you might be surprised!

And one last thing. We can look at these things as problems, or we can look at them as challenges. I know this sounds like a pat answer, but think of it this way. Would you rather tell someone you're working on a challenging last minute project, or you're having a terrible problem at work trying to finish your boss's new outline? I'd rather have a challenge than a problem.... Think about it.