- Hardship is a great revealer of who your true friends are.
- If they talk about others with you, they will talk about you when you get up and leave.
- No one grows through comfort and ease.
- Life is a vapor, it can disappear like the morning fog.
- Treat the one you date kindly, you may work for them one day.
- Dating in high school is dumb.
- Smartphones aren’t making people smart.
- Groupthink acts just like a virus and can spread through a city, town, or even the whole world even if the information is totally false.
- Misinformation can hit Japan at the same rate your light turns off and on.
- The need for ancient wisdom is at an all-time high.
- Hug an old person then ask them lots of questions then listen.
- Some days will wind up in the loss column, shake it off and move on to the next day.
- Marrying a Latina was the best decision I could have ever made!
- Wise counsel begins with understanding.
- Where there are many words, trouble is close by.
- We have lost our reverential AWE and WONDER of God.
- We have manufactured a Jesus product that is easily communicated and mass-produced in large quantities but lacks the power of the real person.
- Bumper sticker faith will fail you in a time of trial.
- If you have never encountered God, really encountered, I mean can point to a moment in time when you were CHANGED then I doubt you have ever met HIM.
- People will pay a lot of money for counseling and not really want to change.
- Dogs are God’s little messengers to remind you how much HE loves you.
- Cats are God’s little messengers to remind you how complex relationships can be.
- I’m convinced we don’t know what a healthy marriage is.
- I’m convinced we don’t know what healthy parenting is.
- Our education system is filling the minds of our youth with math, science, and reading, with little to no input regarding the internal working order of human beings.
- The vacuum created by a sterile education system devoid of any (heart) matters has left a burden on churches and families.
- Churches and families are in severe trouble because the very fabric of their existence is eroding due to popular opinion and thinking creating a wash of small-minded thinking that discounts years of ancient wisdom.
- The moral fabric of our society is no longer substantiated by the belief system of its people which will, in turn, lead to the decay of peace as we know it.
- Unless we return to our roots and discover the ancient biblical wisdom, learn by it, live by it, and allow the living God to guide our doctors, lawyers, politicians, educators, families…we will be taken over by more zealous religious ideologies which will eliminate our freedoms.
- History shows that when people see the government as the hero, they will easily give away their freedoms to government control.
- When I look at those who call themselves followers of Christ, I see little to no difference in the cultural norms of our day.
- Cultural relevance has pared the claws of the Lion of Judah and relegated Him to a domesticated house cat.
- I’m NEVER educated, encouraged, or happier after scrolling my social media feeds….yet I go back again and again.
- Most people have headaches because their halo is too tight.
- Too much of a healthy thing becomes unhealthy.
- Most of our physical problems started as little stresses and worries.
- Self-improvement first starts in the mind, then moves to the pen, then to your feet.
- People are like Crayons, some colorful, some black and white, some broken, some dull. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could use all 64 colors, jump back in the box, and get sharpened from time to time?
- We are all enrolled in the University of Earth, some waste it, some learn from it, while others, leak all they learn.
- Strengthening one small area of your life will impact the other areas of your life.
- Not having a tv in your bedroom is a good thing.
- Listening while looking at your phone isn’t listening.
- Safe and faith don’t belong in the same sentence.
- Retirement isn’t mentioned in the Bible.
- Linus drops his blanket only once in the Charlie Brown series, it’s when the words, “fear not” are read aloud as quoted from the Bible.
- We are still carrying our blankets like Linus because we have forgotten what the Bible said about fear.
- Van Halen was better with David Lee Roth than Sammy Hagar.
- Music is supernaturally powerful beyond comparison in accessing the innermost parts of our lives.
- What you stuck in the ground in your teen years will sprout later in life, whether you like it or not.
- God is sovereign and in complete control, YOU are not, HE does whatever HE wants to do and is not limited by your mistakes, failures, or your points of view. He is and will always be the supreme King of everything, you don’t need to be afraid, HE has overcome everything you fear even death itself.
Linus drops the blanket in A Charlie Brown Christmas after he repeats the words, “And the angel said unto them, Fear not” from Luke’s gospel chapter 2 vs 10a.
Why did Linus drop the blanket?
He was emphasizing a great truth to you and to me, FEAR NOT!
I invite you to join the blanket dropping club.
Because the blanket isn’t necessary anymore.
Drop the blanket, it isn’t necessary anymore.
“Aim at nothing and you’ll hit it every time.”
Life doesn’t aim for you.
It’s impossible to improve without a target!
- Targets provide focus.
- Focus provides momentum.
- Momentum pushes you through the pain.
Hit the target experience the euphoria of a grand finale!
“God helps those who help themselves.”
This is to say that when you hustle with all of your best efforts, giving everything you have to God then He will, in turn, help you.
Is this true?
We are incapable of doing anything in and of ourselves which is why we needed a sacrificial lamb to take our place to satisfy the law code to allow us access to a Holy God who is perfect.
Once we clothe ourselves with the truth that we are not under the law trying to earn our way to God but are in fact operating with the Holy Spirit living inside of us, the same Spirit that parted the Red Sea and caused dry bones to rise then we can understand God’s economy.
God’s economy is that He paid a heavy price to purchase our freedom, namely Himself through Jesus in the flesh so that we have access to all of Him.
The world’s economy says God helps those who help themselves.
We have a choice, God’s economy, or the world’s economy.
God’s economy is imbued with a power resource that is infinite and life-giving, in short, all the resources of heaven are at one’s disposal.
The world’s economy leaves us on our own with only our own resources which can get us by at times but is finite.
Putting it another way, when we are operating out of God’s economy, there is a battery that never drains.
The world’s economy has a battery that drains then has to be charged.
Practically speaking, how does this apply to a modern-day business owner who is struggling to make a profit and needs God to multiply their efforts?
Choose God’s economy through abiding and remaining. Jesus, states, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15: 7-8
When we are abiding and remaining, NOT operating in our strength but in the strength of God, we will bear much fruit. When we are in this posture we are to ASK whatever we wish and it will be done. The reason this makes sense is that when the posture of our heart is one with Jesus, we will ask what HE would ask.
A great spiritual bridge must be crossed moment by moment if God’s economy is to be lived in. We must choose to live out of the butterfly self vs the worm self. The butterfly has gone through the rigors of the cocoon and has been transformed through metamorphosis into a winged beauty that glides through the air. This is a far cry from the belly slithering worm it once was. The problem becomes when the butterfly behaves like a worm, it sinks.
Which will you choose? Minute by minute, moment by moment we choose God’s economy or the world’s. We choose to operate as a branch lying on the ground wishing it would produce fruit or we are a branch attached to a mighty tree producing fruit when the whole body deeply rooted supplied with nourishment provides all the essentials for this day’s fruit growing.
Imagine your life right now, the problems you face, the challenges of the world….now choose God’s economy, namely the way of the Spirit of God, then watch the butterfly wings appear.
- Experts sometimes don’t agree.
- A presidential race can turn at any moment.
- The word “pivot” is way overused.
- Normal has left the building.
- Losing a loved one will change you.
- Security is a myth.
- The church can meet in a drive-in theater.
- People will believe anything you tell them if enough other people believe it too.
- We don’t like being told what to do.
- If you aren’t operating online as a business you are a dead duck.
- We have a stubborn refusal to allow this pandemic to teach us.
- Shallow roots lead to toppled trees.
- Shallow people lead to toppled lives.
- Quarantine people for an extended period of time and they will make news happen.
- People will lose their minds if you mess with their sports.
- Our government can come up with billions of dollars for stimulus packages with no real way to pay for it.
- Faith over Fear is a cute yard sign that very few people actually know how to apply.
- My glasses fog up incessantly while wearing a mask.
- Who knew toilet paper was so valuable a commodity?!
- God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
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!
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.
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.
- Download the bible app on your phone, it’s free.
- Choose a simple plan and begin to read or listen to it.
- Pray simply.
- 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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?
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!
“If you think you are going to hit a home run with every pitch you are mistaken.”
I was discouraged this morning, the writing tank was empty yet there were plenty of ideas. I had time to write yet the process was not producing fruit. Some of my frustration could be found in the quote above namely that at times I am my own worst enemy when seeking to accomplish something. Ideas are like pitches and I keep swinging for a home run. As I type this my mindset is to simply make contact with the ball and see where it goes. There is much more freedom in the realistic expectation.
I wonder how many of us are hung up with unrealistic expectations in our lives?
I think back to one of my favorite movies, Christmas Vacation, where Clark Griswald suffers from unrealistic expectations at Christmas time. He got so wound up with his expectations that he kicked over into a mode where he grabbed a chainsaw and began thrashing away at his problems…..a CHAINSAW! I’m ashamed to admit that I am a chainsaw wielder at times as well. Man, I can get so wound up that I go to a thrashing mode and anything that gets in my way gets hacked and whacked with my chainsaw.
The next time you feel the crazed manic mood come over you, check your expectations about what is going on.
Are you striking out because you are swinging for a home run? Are your expectations in line with a daily life lived with curveballs, knucklers, and fast pitches? Do yourself a favor, read the pitch, and adjust your swing accordingly. What does this look like practically? For me, I simply identified that the pitch coming my way came in the form of ideas to write about. I expected to write the next best blog that would go viral and change the world! My swing didn’t match the pitch because the pitch coming at me were base hit balls. My job is to swing and make contact. This blog entry is the result of slowing down my swing to match the pitch.
How’s your swing?
- Pick up a physical Bible and read one scripture a day. The rustling of the pages between your fingers will warm your soul and nourish your heart.
- Write a handwritten note to somebody with words of sincere encouragement. The act of writing something and delivering it is one of the most powerful ways to impact someone.
- Drive slower, everyone is in a hurry so take your time. Why test your stress, leave knowing you will take longer to get somewhere.
- Take rest breaks, like the ones runners take when they are running fast. If you are out of breath, stop and breathe, this sounds so simple yet the drive of the season can leave you breathless then before you know it you will have lost your mind.
- Feed your mind healthy thoughts vs toxic thoughts. Turn off the election news, tune into life-giving news. Jump in the river of gladness and joy, it’s always running and inviting you in.
It was a blissful morning right around 8:30 with a cool breeze, cerulean blue skies, and a whisp of whimsy floating in the air. The sound flowing through my car audio was the sound of the Bible being read aloud. Life was filling my reservoirs. The reading was followed by a passionate prayer to take on the day. I stepped out of the car and gave a long well-deserved stretch with arms to the sky with a smile inside like a full glass of water ready to quench the thirst of the day. I stepped towards my mission, to encourage 80 workers at a workplace. I was working as a chaplain caregiver to workplaces where I would walk through and offer a word of encouragement and offer care for those who needed it. I strutted up the stairs and threw open the workplace door to find the first recipient of my full cup. I extended my hand with an enthusiastic greeting that invited the person to share. They shared, and shared, and shared, and complained, and rambled, and dumped, and drained. At the end of about 10 minutes, my full overflowing cup was now depleted halfway. I still had 79 people to go and my cup was half drained. With the endurance of a runner, I quickly gathered my stamina and shook off the depletion of the first of 79 miles of running. I grabbed a quick breath of air and walked to my next person to encourage. This person was full of joy and fulfillment. Like an artesian spring, my cup began to overflow with words of energy, encouragement, life, and hope.
Can you relate to my story? Ever walk into work full from the weekend only to be met by a notice on your desk that says, “SEE ME” from your boss? How about the phone ringing first thing with news that your wife has a flat tire and YOU are the only one who can change it? You check the balance of the bank account only to notice that there are purchases from a state you don’t live in for things you didn’t buy! What happens to all of us is usually a state of inner freak out followed by choice words then quickened action to put out the fire or squash the problem or better yet face the music. We can show up as full as an overeating bullfrog yet can be drained within a matter of minutes!
We all have an invisible cup inside. Our cup is either full, empty, or somewhere in between. It is extremely important for you to know you have a cup and for you to know what level your cup is at. The level of your cup determines your ability to function at a high level with optimal efficiency and vision or at a low level with an inability to see yourself or your situation. To be clear, your cup determines your ability to see the world around you accurately and to see yourself in this world. It is a big deal to be able to see accurately. Imagine you are a pilot flying a plane full of people yet have zero visibility. Zero visibility is super scary! Here’s the point, you are that pilot and you are leading your family, or you are leading yourself, maybe you are in charge of a business or a group of people. Zero visibility is not only scary it can lead to bad results quickly. Being able to see accurately is vital to life and living yet with an empty cup your vision leaves making you dependant upon air traffic control (if you are lucky) or dependant upon your instincts to fly with zero vision.
The opposite effect is just as powerful, a full cup gives you crystal clear vision with an ability to see super clear. Have you ever been at 10,000 feet on a clear day? This is life with a full cup. You can see for miles and miles. With a full cup, you can’t miss! Your instincts are sharp, your vision is good, stamina is high and relationships are easy! Why would we ever settle for a drained cup? The problem is most of us are drained and don’t even know it.
Here’s what I want you to do. First, I want you to identify the fact that you and I have this invisible cup inside. Understand that this cup is paramount to your ability to see and to function at a high level. Second, I want you to be able to identify what level your cup is at. If your level is high you are functioning at an optimal level, if it is low you are probably struggling with problems you can’t even make out clearly. Third, I want you to practice owning your cup and ensuring that it is full. Take responsibility for your own well being, make choices to ensure your cup is at the highest level possible. Fourth, I want you to make it your goal to identify the level of those around you, at work, home, at the dinner table. If your kids are acting up I guarantee their cup is empty. If an employee is not performing at an optimal level, find out what is draining their cup.
Imagine yourself showing up on Monday morning with a full cup rather than an empty one. Better yet imagine showing up at the end of the day and being able to identify your spouse’s cup level or your kid’s cup level. Armed with this new ability you can win wherever you are whatever stage of life you are in. Don’t believe me? I challenge you to test this out. Answer these simple questions: How full is your cup right now? What can you do to fill your cup? How can you be a cup filler for others?
Go change the world by owning your cup!
I had a nickname when I was younger. I was called “worrywart” because I worried about everything. I worried about EVERYTHING little or big, weather or sports, sickness and health, future and past. The thing I worried most about was my own life and what was going on inside of me. I had a real uncertainty about my past, present, and future. As I am now older I believe that being adopted has something to do with this, the uncertainty of everything. What got me the MOST worried was when I upset someone and they were angry with me. All I wanted was for there to be peace.
Have you ever experienced anything close to this kind of worry? How about your finances? Ever worry about your kids? How about worry about present-day politics or whether you will get cancer or not? We are worrying people, always have been. You might experience the cousins of worry such as fear, anxiety, even anger. Anger, you see, is an expression of feeling out of control and directing it at self or others often with very little positive consequence as a result. We fret, worry, fear, blow up, criticize, get defensive, or maybe balk at these and go hardline contempt which is the arrogance of a perfectionist looking down their nose at anyone who struggles.
Worry is faith turned inside out. Faith is believing even though you don’t see, taste, touch, or smell. Worry is the inside out version of this where you have seen yet you still don’t believe, you have tasted, you have touched, you have smelled yet you still worry. How is this even possible? It is possible because your brain is a phenomenal instrument that can be used for good or harm.
Every time you worry you create a rut in your brain called a neuropathway. This rut turns into a full-blown gully if traveled often. A gully in your brain is an easy path for a worrisome thought to travel especially if it has been rehearsed for years and years. The opposite is true. If you think something life-giving, true, or faith-driven accompanied by belief, you form a rut. A healthy rut well-traveled over time creates a gully that is easily traveled when a worrisome thought crosses your mind. Now your brain has a fork in the road. The simple difference between producing the action of worry or the action of faith is as simple as taking the right road when the opportunity comes.
Try this: say one healthy thing about yourself out loud. Try it, say one thing out loud that is healthy. Practice this every day for the next 10 days. What will have happened during this short period of time is the phenomenon of changing your mind. The bible calls this the renewing of your mind. By renewing your mind you actually develop the capacity to begin to experience the reality of healthy thinking which leads to healthy behavior, which leads to healthy choices, which leads to better outcomes in your life and world. When worry comes visiting it will find a deeper gully than the worry gully and will travel the faith gully.
What would your life look like if you worried less? How might your anxieties and fears decrease if you were to apply the one healthy thought for 10 days activity? Imagine going through your Sunday night full of faith rather than worry! How about imagining the difficult challenge you are facing in your family when approached by faith instead of worry. How might this change your life? I dare you to try this out for 10 days.
Don’t worry about it!
“If base camp isn’t good, the climb suffers.”
My family and I just finished moving. Even though it was only across town I believe I aged 10 years. Things were completely out of control, boxes were everywhere and we had a deadline. The more we would pack the more it seemed we needed to pack. The house we were moving into wasn’t ready yet so we had to live with family literally out of our suitcases. As a guy I had no control because this was bigger than me, it took time and tons of help from others but we eventually got moved in.
We don’t have to be moving to feel like the ground beneath our feet is unstable. Your job looks shaky, or your money is leaving the account faster than it is going in, or the kids are running over you. Maybe you don’t even know where you are to begin to understand what solid ground would even feel like? Sometimes, life feels like quicksand, the more you move the more stuck you get.
Let’s talk about base camp for a second. Base camp is the set up mountain climbers use to come to to ready themselves for the climb ahead. Base camp is super important because it provides energy, sustenance, safety, direction….basically all the things a mountain climber needs to climb successfully. If basecamp isn’t established and set up it will drain the climber which makes the climbs more dangerous. See the metaphor?
You have a basecamp, how’s it going? Is your base camp in the condition you need for your climb? Not everyone’s climb looks the same. If you are the CEO of a fortune 500 company your climb looks different than mine would if I were bagging groceries for 15 hours a week. Neither is better they are just different. Base camp is the place you go to recharge, renew, to gather all of the supplies for the next days climb. Order in basecamp is essential. Taking care of basecamp is vital. Having basecamp is super important.
Take some time and evaluate your basecamp, is it bringing you what you need for your climb if not what needs to be adjusted? In counseling we talk about something called self care; base camp and self care are the same thing. If you aren’t caring for you then the climb suffers. If you aren’t providing the space and place for you to take care of you the climb suffers. Have I mentioned that suffering on the climb is super dangerous?
Imagine what your day will look like if you spent some time ordering your basecamp and little more. What might your relationships look like if you have rest at basecamp. How might your stamina be impacted if your basecamp is restful. How might your overall mission and vision be impacted if basecamp is healthy.
Count the cost of basecamp and make the choice, the climb is up to you.
I get so scared when I write these blogs. Putting a piece of yourself out for the world to see is both exhilarating and exhausting. I would much rather hide and be safe. We are like this you know, you and I. We have the primitive part of our brain called the Lizard Brain (look it up I’m not lying). Apparently this area of our brain is responsible for telling our body that something is about to eat us so be safe. The problem is there are very few things that are going to eat us today yet the Lizard brain still thrives.
If nothing is going to eat us and the Lizard brain still thrives, what does it thrive on? Your Lizard brain and my Lizard brain thrives on anything it perceives as scary. For some of you simply leaving the house feeds your Lizard brain. Others of you the thought of applying for a job, or asking her out, or getting a different haircut feeds your Lizard. Even deeper, the thought of quitting your job to step into a calling, or leaving an abusive relationship, setting boundaries with a controller all feed the Lizard brain.
God says in 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Take that you Lizard Brain!!! With God we can defeat the Lizard brain once and for all right? I wish it were that easy. May I offer you a few practical things to help you defeat this?
Start by identifying the thing you are most afraid of. By merely identifying it and calling it to your conscious mind you weaken the power and make it changeable. There is something powerful when you are fully aware of something. The power lies in the ability to shape and change. God has given each of us a mind to be renewed and this only happens when you call something out of the depths of your mind to the aware part. Once you have it fully in your mind you then have power over it. Find something true that speaks to the fear. If you are unable to find something true, simply google, “what does the bible say about….”, then you can research and fill your mind with something true.
Once you are aware, then fill your mind with what is true, repeat for no less than 28 days. I know I just lost you there. This is how long it takes to cover over the dirt road tracks that have been formed in your brain and to begin to carve out new pathways. Scientists called this concept neuroplasticity, people of faith call this renewing the mind. I promise if you will do this you will begin to see action happen.
Once you have practiced this, you will literally have changed the physiological structure of your brain to where it no longer goes down the old dirt road of Lizard like fear and instead travels the new dirt road of truthful belief.
I had to practice this over and over just to write this blog and publish it. I have a very strong Lizard brain that I have been feeding for years. The only way to defeat it is to run straight at it. Don’t run until you have done your work on the inside first. Do you dirt road re-work, mind renewal then run straight at the fear. Guess what happens when you run right at fear, it dissipates like cotton candy on the roof of your mouth. Then maybe you will begin to step into the future meant for you as you confront fear with truth.
“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” Benjamin Franklin
If I had one wish I would wish for a map telling me exactly where I am in my life right now. Why this wish? Because if I know where I am I can chart where to go next. How about you would you like to know exactly where you are in your life right now? I don’t mean physically, we are talking about your stage of life, are you where you want to be? If not why?
God teaches us in his book of Proverbs chapter 3 verse 5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” How can this help me know where I am? God wants you to trust HIM with all your HEART. You heart is referring to your mind, will, and emotions in other words your innermost being. Trust in HIM with your innermost being such as how you think, choose, and feel.
God wants us to trust HIM and lean NOT on our own understanding. He wants us to think of Him in every situation then HE will direct our path. We don’t have to do life alone, we are to lean on Him in everything. Everything that matters to you matters to Him.
Choose right now to trust God with everything you care about. Tell him about it. Tell Him about your co-worker that bugs you, or your spouse that drives you nuts, or the lack of money in your bank, or your neighbor who has a dog that never stops barking. No matter how big or small choose to trust God right now with it.
Imagine what your life will look like if you took this one part of the Bible and applied it right here right now. Imagine what it would look like to have your path directed? Imagine how this would impact your immediate life.
So you’ve gone on several dates and ended up all stinky. What is going on here? What seems to be the problem? Are you just picking wrong people, or are there any good people worth picking, or do you need to find the latest dating app, or read the latest dating book? While many of these problems may be occuring, chances are there is something else causing you to wind up stinky at the end of dates. Maybe you are dumpster diving for dates!
Have you ever picked someone to go out with in hopes that you can fix them? Have you ever met someone and thought to yourself that they will look better to you over time? Have you lowered your standards to keep someone around? My friend, you are experiencing an epic problem that our world is experiencing. There’s hope, this is a problem that can be solved. It starts with the person in the mirror.
We all have within us our unique identity it’s what makes us uniquely set apart from others. We each think different, choose different, and feel different with a variety of needs that span the globe. Simply put, your identity is the unique in you. Here is the kicker, without an awareness of or health within your identity you will struggle to find people who are a good match for you. Let me explain.
Without a clear view of who YOU are you will never be able to see who THEY are. Does this make sense now? How you see you is how you see them, if YOU is not seen accurately chances are your view of THEM is inaccurate as well. Think of a pair of glasses, they are prescriptive in helping you see more clearly. If these glasses are broken they will skew the picture creating an inaccurate view of self and situations. Are your glasses broken? Are you seeing yourself accurately? This is the first question as we learn how not to dumpster dive for dates. Check your glasses.
If you have good glasses meaning they aren’t broken, you will stand a pretty good chance of seeing yourself but more important, you will see others clearly. Seeing yourself is important in selecting friends and dates however seeing others clearly is vital to being able to determine whether someone is good for you or not. Suppose you know yourself pretty well and have a decent level of confidence, chances are pretty good you aren’t going to date and marry a drug dealer right? If you have extremely poor vision of yourself and others you just might meet and date a con artist, or a liar, worse yet, you may meet someone harmful!
Dating isn’t meant for missionary work. We don’t date to change people, we date to grow a great friendship that has tons of laughter, fun, togetherness and an ability to solve simple and tough problems without staying stuck forever. If you can do these things together chances are high you are in a good relationship that didn’t come from the dumpster.
If you are dating someone and there is intense jealousy, or every conflict gets hung up and blows up, you may be in a dumpster relationship that will never stop stinking. Here are a few other signs to look for in a stinky relationship: Criticism, defensiveness, you feel like you have lost your mind, your feel isolated from your friends and family. If any of these are what you are experiencing you may have a dumpster relationship.
Imagine what it would be like to talk to someone about anything in the world and they wouldn’t make you feel unsafe. This is what a great relationship looks like. Spend your energy becoming the kind of person that can foster this relationship, then go out and you just may find someone just like you in this sense where you share these traits.
NO MORE DUMPSTER DIVING FOR DATES!
Did you know we have 3 imaginary coins given to us each day? They appear every night at midnight and can only be spent in the day you are in. We have a great opportunity to spend these coins with great freedom to choose. Some of us will spend all three coins in one area alone such as work, or being a parent. Others will spend the three in three different areas like working out and work and family time. The tension we all live with is how to spend our coins on the best things and not waste them on the worse things.
It is important to evaluate how you are spending your coins. Are you spending them wisely? It is also important to understand how others are spending their coins. Suppose you have a friend that is constantly bugging you to go the gym and workout. Maybe you don’t want to spend one of your coins in the gym. Suppose someone is asking you to volunteer on a board and you are passionate about the cause, invest your coin there. Whatever the choice, choose wisely because the coins matter.
Let’s be wise spenders of our 3 coins. May it be said of us that we lived our lives investing in the things that matter. If you aren’t sure how to spend your coins, take a trip to a cemetery. Sit among the throngs of those who have gone before you and sit with the question in your mind then go spend wisely.
Like gold to the goldsmith, fresh water to the dry mouth, steady wind to the sail, this is what genuine friendship is like. Friends fill up and build up. Friends see what you cannot and share the possibility. Friends laugh with you and are for you. Friends seek to understand your inside world. Do you possess these qualities? If not why not? If you do not it explains why you have so few friends.
If you do not have someone you can call friend, it is probably because you look in the mirror and call the reflection enemy. Be careful how you perceive yourself because the world will join in your narrative. Chose friendship today, first with self then with others. Still struggling? Ask God to be your friend, He is waiting for you to ask.
Call one friend today and do nothing but encourage them.
~A state of full immersion
Here I sit Lord wanting to write and create yet realizing that it takes a minute to heat up the engine. Like a good diesel once she is cranked and warm it can take you thousands of miles into adventure, lands unseen, solutions to life’s problems you name it. A runner must warm up the muscles before bounding off into a sprint lest they injure themselves, I believe a writer can take cues, one must warm up, have stretching exercises to get the blood flowing. What we are after more than anything is the creative equivalent to a runner’s high and that is flow. Flow happens when it all lines up and comes out through the heart, mind, then the fingertips. Flow is elusive though, many things war for our flow energy. A mere conversation can zap flow as can wandering thoughts. Each time I sit to write I must wrestle down the wild horses of my mind.
Flow impacts every aspect of our lives from athletics to business deals to fixing a broken piece of equipment. There are such things as flow stealers, little vampires that emerge and steal the flow away dissipating like cotton candy to the roof of your mouth. This is an expensive problem. Take some time today and identify flow stealers in your world.
- What are some flow stealers in your life?
Anger is the wind that blows out the lamp of the mind.
Ever been angry? Dumb question I know. Imagine a puppy pulls out in front of you in traffic and you slam on the brakes, this is what anger is like. Anger is a physiological form of pulsating arousal that causes our breathing to quicken, eyes to focus intensely and our hearing to become singular. What does all this mean? It means you turn into a giant hammer looking for the nail. Bad news for you if you yourself are the nail. Anger turned inward becomes depression, anger turned outward becomes rage. In all of these episodes, you lose your mind because of your body trying to regulate itself. Simply put we get into a state of fight or flight. Sadly some of us are stuck in fight or flight everyday. Should we get angry? Of course we can get angry, we must learn where to direct the hammer in a healthy way to keep ourselves from hurting ourselves and those around us.
What is one thing you can do the direct the hammer toward a healthy place that will not harm yourself or another?
Growth amidst the dirt and roots, the grime and smell yet yielding to life.
Crushed, down further and further into the decayed rotting soil of life goes the roots in search of precious water and sustenance.
Out of the effort springs forth life above ground where the roots can’t see.
It seems our focus in life is the above ground pursuit but the real pursuit occurs in the muck and yuck of the growth underground where eye cannot see.
Ever pressing onward deeper and deeper into blackness, void of senses yet toiling ever deeper in a necessary rush to find life.
The world around us draws towards the upward life.
Real life happens in darkness, in the workshop of root work.
How are you growing below the surface where no one can see? Write 3 ways you are growing.
More than anything in the world I want you to see me.
Can you see me?
Do you see my effort to get noticed?
Can you see my dance, my song, my heart?
I long to be noticed, to be accepted, to be understood, to be nurtured, cared for as a mother cares for a child.
I am longing, hungry, empty, aching, searching, invisible.
See me but don’t see me, the tango of twisted evil, a divine yet cursed dance.
Even the writing is edited for the sake of invisibility for fear of scoffing.
When have you felt invisible? Write without stopping about a time you felt most invisible.
Marriage is like canoeing. Picture this, a canoe with one person sitting up front with a paddle and the other sitting in the back with a paddle. Each person has a destination they would like to get to but have to paddle together to get there. This is often where the fun begins. We have differing strengths in paddling, sometimes one is less familiar with paddling, sometimes both are extremely inexperienced. What happens next is a true picture of marriage.
If both parties aren’t paddling in unison agreeing on the end target and syncing their paddling strokes, they will often miss their destination. It is not uncommon to find beginning canoers rowing in circles, or zig zagging furiously while one member screams at the other to switch sides. Sometimes the canoers will wind up in the weeds and have to reverse themselves in order to get out. Worse of all some canoers swamp their canoe by flipping it over and getting the canoe full of water. Most often though we find one member yelling at the other member sometimes whacking the other person over the head with their paddle. Sound like marriage?
The more advanced we become the more necessary it is to keep it simple. Take social media. What an amazing advancement in communication and connecting. The problem is, we are now seeing an entire generation that are growing up with devices in their hands yet more unhappy than ever before. One of the new acronyms I just learned is called FOMO or fear of missing out. Defined, FOMO means, “The state of mental or emotional strain caused by the fear of missing out.” This is the feeling we get inside that everyone else is having a blast with their life while I’m home without a clue or a plan to enjoy it.
Hold the phone! Google this, I’m not making it up! We are growing more unhappy because of a fear of missing out on a life that is happening somewhere else except in my world. Screen activity fans the flames of this fear. Basically the more we live life behind a screen, smart phone, tablet, t.v. computer etc. game system, the more unhappy we become.
What is a reasonable strategy for battling F.O.M.O.? The solution is quite simple, balance. A 50/50 balance of screen time vs real-time is a good place to start.
- Pay attention to what you are paying attention to.
- How much time you are spending behind the screen?
- Write down your daily time behind the screen.
- If you believe you are spending too much time behind the screen, step away and carve out time away from it.
- Do more things that make you forget to check your phone.
The screen is not the enemy, too much of the screen is.
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” Rumi
When one gets better we all get better.
Would you agree with that?
Like the butterfly effect, (a minute localized change in a complex system that can have large effects elsewhere), small changes can result in huge effects elsewhere.
So what does all this mean?
It means that as one person improves their marriage, entire generations are impacted.
As one person invests in their Spirit, Mind, and Body, entire communities, workplaces, households, and churches can be impacted.
As one student works on their attitude and habits an entire school can be impacted.
What is one area of your life that you want to improve. Write it down and create a small attainable goal to improve that one area today.
“End of Construction-Thank you for your Patience”
We are all under construction.
Construction is complete when we die.
Until then show some grace to others including yourself.
Construction is messy!
It is dangerous to believe you are the only one with a mess.
We are ALL under construction.
When we believe we are all in process we treat others nicer.
Next time you get angry or frustrated with someone else, remember they are under construction.
Applause, like candy, is sweet to the taste yet leaves you always wanting more.
Have you ever received applause only to want more?
Applause is a poor motivator because it is so fickle.
The performer must top the last performance to increase applause.
What if we lived for the applause of heaven?
Does the applause of heaven exist?
The applause of heaven is a mindset whereby we seek to please those above not those
here on earth.
When we live for the applause of heaven we get earth thrown in.
When we focus on God’s pleasure in our endeavor we gain the applause of earth as well.
What is one area of your life that could benefit from the applause of heaven?
To heal is to recover from what was broken. It means to allow the little people with hardhats to come out and repair the parts of you that are broken. This is best accomplished while we sleep. Every night when we lie down to sleep these little imaginary people with hardhats come out and repair all that was broken throughout the day. The more sleep the more repair. The less sleep, the less repair. So get more sleep.
What can you take away from this to assist you with healing?
P.S. can this apply to emotional and spiritual healing as well?
Resist the urge to blend in.
Blending in is easy and builds the wrong kind of muscles, the easy muscles.
Instead build the weird kind of muscles, the kind that gains the type of results you want anyways. Need some help? Try these as some examples of ways to be weird and build weird muscles:
- Cancel your credit cards and pay them off
- Resist the quicksand of the “not enough” life that social media offers
- Read excellent books
- Be a filler not a drainer
- Rise early and get moving
- Pray often
- Thank at least 5 people a day
This is a start as you set out to be weird.
Because so few people are actually doing this.
What is one thing you can start doing today to break out of the ruts? Share your story here.
We can’t make a wave, we can’t fight the wave, might as well surf the wave.
Waves come at us daily in the form of circumstances.
Fighting with life’s waves leaves you all wet.
Resisting life’s waves will break you.
Surfing life’s waves will thrill you.
What is one wave you can identify that is crashing on you that could be surfed?
Sometimes we end up somewhere different than we intended.
Detours are God’s way of getting our attention to check the road we are on and make course corrections.
Don’t dismiss the detour, embrace the change of scenery.
Ask yourself the simple question, “What can I take away from this detour?”.
When was the last time you encountered a life detour? Were you made aware of a course correction during that time?
Cul-de-sacs stunt growth.
To kill the cul-de-sac you have to go back to the beginning to start again.
Sometimes reverse is progress.
Cul-de-sacs frustrate the one driving and makes passengers car sick.
Cul-de-sacs exist so you will not stay there.
Choose to exit the cul-de-sac the way you came in and get back on the road of life.
Have you ever experienced the round and round experience of a cul-de-sac? I see this most often in workplaces where people are frustrated by the exact same problems everyday. Relationships are a breeding ground for cul-de-sacs as well. Share a time when you were caught in a cul-de-sac and explain how you got out.
Routines create ruts which over time can become shallow graves.
Choose one thing in your life that you KNOW will make you uncomfortable and do it.
Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
Question: If you do not like where you are today what needs to change?
Once you make up your mind to press play on your decision a release of adrenaline will shoot through your entire body like the fireworks before a football game, it’s the kickoff.
You will find that it never becomes comfortable to do hard things but you can learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
What is one crazy goal you can set before you? I chose to run a marathon and did it! How about you?
“In the absence of information conspiracies abound.” -Brene’ Brown
There is a little monster inside of us called the conspiracy monster. This little creature lives between your ears and roars things that aren’t true. The effects of the conspiracy monster are far-reaching from the classroom to the boardroom and even the bedroom. The conspiracy monster feeds on bits of information with much room for interpretation. A wild conspiracy monster can ruin your life.
The conspiracy monster feeds on social media. When we view a picture-perfect family it is easy to be overcome with a myriad of thoughts most of which are completely untrue. When we feed on these untrue thoughts they serve as food for conspiracies only fueling the monster that lives in each of us. The worse part is when we behave out of the conspiracy. We might act impulsively and spend money where we don’t need to because we feel the need to be more active like that perfect family, (chomp, chomp) the monster eats your checkbook. Or we begin to dislike our lives because they seem to be so boring (chomp, chomp) there goes your contentment.
How do we identify and defeat the conspiracy monster? First, you are halfway by believing the conspiracy monster exists. Second, you need to filter events that happen in your life through the truth filter. If you hear the monster chomping, press pause and ask one question, what is true about this event right now? The truth of an event frees you from the grip of the conspiracy monster. Better yet, the truth of an event frees you to behave out of that truth. When we behave out of truth we live with significance and contentment.
Have you been allowing the monster to eat you alive? What can you do to filter the conspiracies thrown your way?
Here are a few suggestions:
- View social media with the belief that what you are seeing isn’t THE TRUTH but a version of a person’s truth. Filter hard.
- When a person shares a victory in their life, pause, kill the monster, and genuinely celebrate with them.
- When information is scarce regarding a circumstance or life event, gather facts like a detective before permitting yourself to behave out of the limited intel.
- Fill your life with truth statements, factual truths that pertain to you. The Bible is a tremendous source of solid truth about who you are.
- Share these ideas with others.