Eye see it

Life lesson:  You go where your eyes go.

It was a hot day, miserable in fact. The road was radiating heat like a red hot engine overheating on a summer’s day. I was that guy outside on a jog soaking up the heat like someone who has lost their mind. I swear I saw buzzards circling! Next thing I noticed my eyes were gazing down, looking at my feet, counting the cracks in the sidewalk. What followed is illustrative, my posture began to slump, my steps became harder and my breath got shorter. In short, my running got harder because my eyes changed what they were fixed on. I became aware of this and changed my focus for just a moment. I lifted my eyes towards a fixed point in the distance and my entire posture, gaze, and breath changed for the better. The only thing in my circumstances that changed was my focus.

You go where your eyes go.

Want to change your life?

Change your focus.

Step 1: Take a moment at each meal of the day to simply think about what you have been focusing on.

Step 2: If your focus is misdirected, willfully change it.

Step 3: If distraction is common then place a visual reminder such as a photo, or a word, heck get a tattoo!

 

Focus Forward

13Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Phillipians 3: 13-14

Want to wreck your car?

Drive while looking backward.

Want to wreck your life?

Live while looking backward. 

We were meant to live out of the windshield, not the rearview mirrors.

Focus forward and glance back. 

God has called YOU to strain toward what is ahead.

Strain for the prize!

The great cloud of witnesses applauds you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Life

I grew up without the knowledge of or ever seeing the face of my mother who gave me birth. I am adopted twice, more on that later. With adoption comes a litany of challenges such as attachment disorders, and identity challenges. I encountered all of these but had no idea what they were and why I was acting the way I was. I would be afraid of being abandoned but didn’t know that was fueling my desire to break the rules to get attention. An intense fire raged inside of me for as long as I can remember, a fire to break stuff, or break me, sometimes resulting in both being accomplished. I can now see what was going on back then that fueled my fire. It was and is anger. I grew up angry but didn’t know it. My anger was directed mostly at myself. I just thought everyone was angry at themselves, now as I am older I know different.

We all do possess varying degrees of anger, however, my anger was white-hot, at me. White-hot means that when I made the smallest of errors I would blowtorch myself into a pile of ash. I first noticed this consciously while playing sports. Whenever I would make a mistake I would go ballistic on myself, internally raging and criticizing. Golf was no fun because when I missed a shot I would throw my clubs, especially after countless hours of practice and lessons. I realized that my life was being lived much the same way, where I would actually live it in an effort to NOT mess up vs daring greatly. There were plenty of mistakes because one can’t live life without them. My mistakes however became translated into a shameful symphony of self-hate and a blow torch internal rage. This is probably a huge surprise to those who know me because I am seen as a calm person who doesn’t let much bother him. Nothing could be further from the truth. I channeled this fire into perfectionistic efforts to accomplish tasks without error. When there were errors I would translate them into the belief that I am the error. NONE of this was conscious to me until recently and I am in my late 40s. I have lived an entire lifetime not really knowing why I was so angry.

The only reason I am not dead or in prison is that God pursued me. You read that right, He sent the hounds of heaven to chase me. I came to realize that before I was born God loved me and had a plan for my life. God used people and circumstances to draw me to himself. More than anything He used the love and acceptance of some dear friends who genuinely cared for me to stoke the fire of God’s love in my heart. My heart by the way was a punching bag of anger, resentment, and abandonment spurred on by an unconscious awareness of being rejected by my birth mother. A personal growing relationship with the Jesus of the bible is the ONLY thing that saved me from me.

What about you? Maybe you weren’t adopted nor rejected by a birth parent. Maybe you walked through a messed up childhood where there was constant fighting in the home, or alcohol was a demonic force that drove your parents apart, or maybe you were physically mistreated in some way that left you with gaping wounds that nobody sees. First of all, I say with as much sincerity as can be mustered from a keyboard…..I’m so sorry. My heart aches for what was done to you. Don’t tune out if you weren’t abused, maybe you have an internal critic that uses your heart as a punching bag. You could be a pastor of a megachurch, a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or a welder at the manufacturing plant. All of this to say we breathe the same air, just some of us have varying levels of anger and or criticism inside. May I offer you a cool glass of water to quench your parched thirst?

God sent me to pursue you. You are loved by God unconditionally. What you need to know is that an invitation exists for you to begin a new life walking with HIM in ways yet to be discovered. Here are a few simple facts, number one you aren’t perfect neither am I. In order for us to have a relationship with God, we have to be perfect. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Jesus was and is perfect. He came to trade places with you so you can live and not die. He died while living perfectly so you wouldn’t have to live perfectly, in other words, an offer stands for you.

If you will state this out loud: God I know my life is broken – I believe Jesus came to live, die, and was raised from the dead – to rescue me from my sin. Forgive me, I turn from my ways and put my trust in You. 

The Bible says “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

Anytime someone prays this or says this out loud, I imagine heaven breaking out into a song with dancing. You have begun the coolest race on this planet. If I’m being honest, life doesn’t all of a sudden magically get easier, it gets purposeful.

Now what?

  1. Download the bible app on your phone, it’s free.
  2. Choose a simple plan and begin to read or listen to it.
  3. Pray simply.
  4. Message me back if you chose to follow through with this prayer.

Imagine your life, one that is completely forgiven of everything you have ever done wrong. How does it feel to be clean, really clean? You have the wisdom of the God of the universe at your disposal to consult at any time anywhere, just ask Him through simple prayers. Some of the easiest ways I talk to Him is through typing a question and waiting for an answer. Just because you are clean doesn’t mean your mind will let go of all the bad things you have ever done. We have to come to God regularly to wash off the muck and grime.

My life is now 30 years into a relationship with God, one thing I will tell you is the growth happens slowly over time like water cutting through rocks. I am a little bit better and a tad bit wiser now so my encouragement to you is this, allow God to love you, allow others to love you in healthy ways, and start living with a huge smile. The world awaits your offering!

Root Deep Living

I LOVE “likes”!

I was glaring at my screen eyes wide open scanning for the red notification that I have received a new “like”. I saw the beautiful red number that indicated that yet another human or computer somewhere out in the universe saw my work as worthy enough to attribute the click of the “like” button. See what I just did there? I prescribed significance and meaning to getting “likes” on my social network. Know what happened in my brain when I saw this red notification? My brain lit up like a Christmas tree in the rewards center. A shot of dopamine (the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure), pulsated through my system causing my brain to smile BIG.

I just explained the anatomy of addiction!

At the very core of my functioning, I was rewarding myself by searching for “likes”. And just think, I haven’t even watched the popular Netflix documentary about this very thing. I am admitting my vulnerability to being addicted to the “like” button. How about you? Do you find yourself surfing searching for the newest response to your post? Are you hungry for the next comment on your selfie or blog post or video? We are people who are searching for the next HIT of dopamine whether it comes in tiny doses the size of an M&M or in huge doses such as personal praise or rewards. We are becoming mice in B.F. Skinner’s test labs where he created the theory of Behaviorism, this theory is rooted in the belief that we have NO FREE WILL and are only a product of rewards either positive or negative. Are we ok with being reduced to a series of rewards that influence our next actions? Are YOU ok with this?

What is my counselor’s take on all of this?

I believe that earlier and earlier we are introducing electronic devices to children where their reward center of the brain lights up much more frequently than it is designed to. With our young brains lighting up so frequently it begins to develop shallow root systems. The trees grow tall but the roots grow shallow. What does this mean? It means that as soon as something hard comes into the life of the young person they fall over because their brain can’t handle the stress.

What about you and me?

Our roots are getting more shallow as well. When the root system in our adult brains gets shallow, the smallest stress can topple us over like a live oak in wet weather with a gust of wind. Don’t believe me? Look no further than the year 2020 when Coronvirus hit our nation and world. One of the biggest results of Covid has been a massive toppling over of our trees. The absolute highest intellectual minds in science and medicine have been toppled over which has trickled down to the general public. Guess what our response was? BUY MORE TOILET PAPER!!!!!! Seems to me we have toppled our trees.

So what and now what?

We have a problem. More than ever we need to take the time to be aware of what we are doing to our brains and begin to make the choices (you have free will) to choose to deepen our roots.

Here are some root deepening exercises we can all begin to practice to deepen the roots of our brain.

  1. Put your device down and take a 15-minute walk. Notice the beauty around you, the rustling of the wind through the trees, the sound of the birds as they sing. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.
  2. Put your device down and choose to be very interested in someone else. Dale Carnegie is famous for teaching us How to Win Friends and Influence People. One of the key point’s Carnegie made is to be very interested in other people. Get them talking. It’s amazing how much more people will like you if you become very interested in them.
  3. Close your eyes and imagine God. The leading Neuropsychologists and scientists have found that when people are hooked up to brain imaging machines where we can see the activity of the brain in real-time, it shows that our brains light up like a Christmas tree when we simply think of God. I don’t know what your faith lies in, but may I invite you to imagine the God of the Bible?
  4. Smile often. Smiling releases happy chemicals through your body. Go ahead and try it! Try frowning, it takes more muscles to frown than to smile.
  5. Live with your palms up. It has been said it is impossible to be angry with someone if your palms are up. Try to be angry with your palms open facing upward. Now ball up your fists. See the difference?

In conclusion:

We have the opportunity to be deeply rooted as we lead the next generation towards their future. Unlike Skinner, I believe we have absolute choices, God doesn’t make us mice rather we are complex intricate humans made in the likeness of a creator God who loves us and designed us for JOY! If you will take these ideas and put them into practice you will produce fruit that will impact the next generations to come.

Let’s go deepen our roots!

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