How’s your swing?

“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?

5 Holiday Tips

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. Drive slower, everyone is in a hurry so take your time. Why test your stress, leave knowing you will take longer to get somewhere. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 

Own your cup

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!

 

Don’t worry about it!

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!

 

Base camp

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.

Lizard Brain

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.

No more dumpster diving for dates!

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!

Change begins with me

“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.

Application:

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.

Water always wins

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.

Application: 

What is one wave you can identify that is crashing on you that could be surfed?

Kill the cul-de-sac 

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.

Application:

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.

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