Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Master Plan

Have you discovered the master plan for your life yet?  Like most people, I'm only privy to glimpses of the blue prints and don't  know exactly how the remodel of my life will turn out.  Jesus is doing a complete makeover.

I feel safe in my walkout basement.  The foundation is solid.  Hire Jesus to be your builder and allow Him free reign over your life.  You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Be Prepared

Mother Nature is singing at the top of her lungs.  A massive hurricane is battering the east coast.  Tsunami warnings were issued in Hawaii due to a 7.7 jolt from a quake in Western Canada.  Although the looming fiscal cliff is man-made, it will compound our challenges ahead.  No matter where you live, these suggestions may help you be prepared for any kind of storm:
  1. Don't be afraid.  Fear cripples you.  Focus on one moment at a time, one day at a time.
  2. Trust in a higher authority.  God cares about you.  God loves you.  You are not alone.
  3. Pray.  This is the best solution for confronting any storm in your life.
  4. Mend your fences.  You don't need enemies in your life.
  5. Expect storms to appear at any time.  They usually strike when you least expect them.

Monday, October 29, 2012

If Only Syndrome

Is your life consumed by the "if only syndrome"?  Your friends and family see your misery you are trapped in because you blame all your troubles on if only ...fill in the blank.  Here are some examples of if only syndrome:
  1. If only I was taller.
  2. If only I was thinner.
  3. If only I was born at a different place or time.
  4. If only I was wealthy.
  5. If only I was healthy.
  6. If only I was born in a different family.
  7. If only I stayed in school longer.
  8. If only I chose a different career.
  9. If only the economy wasn't so bad.
  10. If only someone loved me.
The easiest way to stop the suffering is to throw away the crutches.  Every "if only" in your life is a crutch.  The blame game needs to stop today.  It's getting in the way of a better life.

Check out the video below of Bryyan Jackson, a young man who was injected with the HIV virus by his own father so the child support payments would stop once he died.  He fought off the if only syndrome by focusing on helping others.  He threw out his crutches when he forgave his father for attempting to destroy his life.  Way to go, Bryyan!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Point of No Return

What do you do when you approach the point of no return -- the point where it's no longer possible to go back?  Your answer is dependent on your belief system handed down by the generations who came before you.  They came to America in search of a better life.  You are the product of the choices they made.  You have that same gumption inside you your ancestors had.  Will you dare to boldly cross the point of no return?

I admit I applied the brakes once my point of no return approached on the highway of life.  The luxuries of my past lured me to look in the rear view mirror.  I prayed God would send me a U-turn sign.  Instead, He sent hazardous signs pointing to a road less traveled.  I put my foot on the accelerator and told my family to buckle their seat belts.  The highway I'm on now is unfamiliar.   I wear a heavy coat a friend gave me before I said goodbye to my old life.  Here are some things I discovered on the other side of the point of no return:
  1. The real adventure begins when you decide to get out of your comfort zone.
  2. You miss out on new opportunities if your eyes are fixated on the rear view mirror.
  3. Pioneers don't lag at the back of the line.
  4. Mediocrity does not live on the other side of the point of no return.
  5. Once you pass the point of no return, you won't find any traffic jams.
Before signing off today, I want to share a humorous story about how God answered my prayers for direction.  A few days after my prayer request, the reverse gear on my Honda stopped working.  The only direction I could drive was forward.  My wife and children were all ready to move to the point of no return.  All they needed was a driver.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Life in the Frozen Tundra

If polar bears lived in my neighborhood, they would be dancing in my backyard this time of year.  We are eagerly awaiting our first snow storm.  My California friends are wondering how I will handle the frozen tundra this Winter.  Even though the weather in the Midwest is very different from Southern California, my life is not much different.  Here are some activities on my agenda for the next several months:
  1. Indoor tennis at the University of Iowa.
  2. Indoor racquetball at the local fitness center.
  3. Family bowling.
  4. Front row seats to support my youngest son's high school wrestling team.
  5. Hours and hours of writing in front of the fireplace to meet my deadline for The Caveman in the Mirror. 
Don't let the environment slow you down.  Throw away all your excuses and live your life to its fullest, even if you find yourself in the frozen tundra.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Put Some Extra in Your Ordinary

The other day I heard one my cousins went on a little run.  Thirty-five miles later, he finished.  It wasn't any kind of competitive race or organized event -- it was an adventure.  Most people train for years just to complete a 26.2 mile marathon and that's more than enough.  My cousin added an extra nine miles because he is extraordinary.  He inspires me to be a little better in everything I do everyday.

Here are some ideas to turn your ordinary activities into something extraordinary:
  1. Add 10% to your daily exercise routine.
  2. Eliminate one hour of wasteful activity today and give that time to your family.
  3. Write a letter of gratitude to someone who makes a difference in your life.
  4. Shake hands with someone in uniform today and thank them for their service to our country.  Military, police and firefighters are top on my list.  Don't forget the ones who are now retired.
  5. Don't tell anyone about your amazing accomplishments.
  6. Don't talk about politics until after the election.
  7. Avoid criticizing others for the next 30 days.  If you fall short, start over.
  8. Discover your reason for getting up every day and dedicate one hour a day pursuing it.
  9. Encourage three people to become extraordinary before the sun sets.
  10. Ask your spouse to make a list of ten projects he or she would like you to complete and finish the list before this year ends.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How to Turn the Light Back On

Unless you are surrounded by a bunch of zombies, it's difficult to hide your burnt out light bulb.  The light bulb inside you is meant to shine all the days of your life.  Here are some tips to help you turn the light back on if you wake up in darkness:
  1. Change your burnt out bulb.  This is your attitude.  The tiniest filament may be responsible for your loss of light.  Change phrases like "I have to do this assignment" to "I get the opportunity to work on this project."
  2. Use energy efficient bulbs.  This means finding the best ways to manage your time so you are free to have more fun in your life.
  3. Check your connections to your power source, the Holy Spirit.  This power supply, when connected properly, will never cease.  The Holy Spirit is like the constant wind blowing and you are the windmill.  You never need to trouble shoot the wind, only the windmill.
  4. Avoid procrastination.  Pretend your light bulb is located in a light house during stormy weather.  How many lives will be lost if you delay turning the light back on?  Change your burnt out bulb immediately.
  5. Keep the light socket clean.  This is your body and it holds the light bulb.  When your body is fed properly and kept in good shape, your light will shine brightly.  Proper nutrition is also a must.  Pay attention to the receptacle that holds your light bulb.
If you follow the five steps above and you find yourself in a place so dark that you can't locate your light switch, call out to Jesus and ask Him to lead you back to it.  He is always with you, even on your darkest days.  He always knows where the light switch is.  Trust Him to help you turn your light back on.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

God's Paintbrush

A picture is worth a thousand words.  I captured this shot with my camera phone on my way home from work while heading west on the Interstate 80.   God's paintbrush is breathtaking.  His Autumn color palette is out of this world.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Keep Turning the Pages

Every page of your life is significant.  Sometimes, the current page is so amazing you want to stay there forever.  The problem is that you must finish the book.  I miss some of the characters in my life's book who are no longer around.  Their memories will always be with me, however, it's impossible to return to previous chapters.  Life must go on, one page at a time.

The other temptation is to skip over some chapters because they are difficult to live.  We want to avoid the antagonist who causes us pain and misery.  We don't like how the plot is unfolding.  There is too much turmoil for our taste buds.  These pages are necessary.  They define who we are.

My wish for you today is that your book becomes a best seller and inspires others to keep turning the pages of their lives.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share today's page with you.

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's Game Time

When the Iowa Hawkeyes have a home game, the entire area comes out in support.  Your life is the same way.  The stadium is packed with Angels cheering for your every play.  Your team-mates are here for you.  You rehearsed all the plays while you were growing up.  It's game time now.  This is your time to shine.  Take these coaching tips into the huddle:
  1. Use your game clock wisely.  
  2. Avoid costly penalties.
  3. Rely on your team-mates.  You are not alone.
  4. Stay close to the team owner.  He groomed you for your position and He drafted you for a specific purpose.
  5. Give all the glory to the team owner.
  6. Don't worry about the scoreboard.  The final outcome of the game is already decided in your favor.
  7. Stick to the play calls.  This is not the time to be a rebel.
  8. Recruit new players.  Sometimes your opponent plays dirty and injures key players.  Find new ones to replace them.
  9. Give the fans a reason to watch the game.  Show your passion and execute every play to the best of your ability.
  10. Have fun.  You were created to be in the game.  It's game time.  Enjoy every minute of it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Joy of Autumn

There aren't enough Crayola Crayons to draw a picture of the breath-taking views of Autumn in the Midwest.  The colors are so rich and vivid.  The locals tell me I need to take a drive along the Mississippi River where the colors are extraordinary and I'm adding this to my bucket list.

Wherever you are in the world, I hope you experience nature's beauty.  Every season has something to offer.  Savor it to its fullest.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Spice Up Your Life

Today is a great day to add a new spice to your life.  Live it up.  Do one thing differently today.  Add a new activity.  Make a new friend.  Change your routine.  Variety is the spice of life.  Let me know how your new spice works out.

Friday, October 19, 2012

How Much Does Your Grudge Weigh?

Grudges are like giant boulders.  We push them, pull them, drag them, even mount them on our shoulders.  No matter how much they weigh, we find a way to keep them in our lives.  I lugged one of these over-sized stones around for over a year at my workplace.  It made my peers nervous every time I hauled my pet rock into a meeting.  I was proud of my grudge.  It defined me.  I didn't care how much my grudge weighed or how difficult it was to transport.  I grasped it with a death grip and made sure nobody could pry it away from me.

It wasn't easy to let go of my grudge.  My friends were convinced I would carry it to my grave.  A voice inside me kept nudging me to let go of it, however, my stubbornness made me deaf.  It also made me blind.  I could not see how my grudge was infecting my world like invisible termites.

One day my neighborhood was sponsoring a clean-up day for hazardous waste items.  I decided it was time to let go of my grudge which had become radioactive.  The workers at the trash disposal site wore protective gear and special gloves.  They carefully removed my grudge from the trunk and handed me a paper to sign off.  I was free at last.

How much does your grudge weigh?  Does it define who you are?  Maybe it's time to redefine yourself.  All you have to do is let go of your grudge.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How's Your Poker Face

Poker faces are important while playing poker.  In the game of life, I believe it's better to tip off your hand, especially when your loved ones are seated at the game table.  This is not the time for bluffing or folding.

Do you feel like the deck is stacked against you?  The truth is your cards were determined before you entered the game.  The only choice you have is to keep playing or exit.  I choose to go all in and play every chip, no matter the odds.  You can see from my nickname, "the naked caveman," I really do go "all in."  I'm willing to lose everything in order to gain one thing -- eternal life.  I want everyone around me to be able to read my poker face.  I'm not afraid to show the cards in my hand.  The player who is willing to bet everything and lose is the winner.

Go ahead, show your poker face.  And play your cards without any fear of losing.  Don't worry how the cards are dealt and let the world know you love the game of life.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to Get Up After a Fall

Show me someone who has never been knocked down and I'll show you someone who is unprepared for life's punches.  I love being in the arena.  I no longer fear getting knocked down.  Every time my opponent strikes a blow, I get the opportunity to develop a counter-punch.  Here are some thoughts about how to get up after a fall:
  1. Understand that if you don't get up, the game is over.  As long as you are willing to keep fighting, you have an opportunity.
  2. A wise fighter in the game of life learns from every punch.  Be thankful for every hit, it will make you a better fighter in the later rounds.
  3. Team up with a life coach who knows how to get up after each fall.  He will teach you how to read your opponent and anticipate his moves.  Above all else, he will teach you to never throw in the towel.
  4. Develop the attitude of a champion and expect to win.  The more experience you gain, the better you will get at avoiding punches.  Learn how to protect yourself.
  5. Stop worrying about how many times you fall.  Babies don't focus on falling down -- they pursue standing up and walking.  Imagine what your life would be like if one day you told yourself, I'm tired of falling down, I think I'll just crawl for the rest of my life.  You are tougher than your opponent and you are designed to win.
Falling down is part of the process of becoming a champion at getting back on your feet.  Life is inviting you into the arena.  It won't be easy.  It will be rewarding.  You will find yourself on the mat often.  Don't get comfortable there.  That's not where you belong.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Put on Your Picker-up-pooper-scooper Hat

One day when I was about 14-years old, my dad came home with three funky looking hats.  The round hats looked like alternating orange and yellow slices of pizza with a martian attached in the center on a spring.  He bobbled from side to side.  The front of the hat was labeled "take me to your leader."  Dad asked my two brothers and me to don the hats he dubbed "picker-up-pooper-scooper hats" during our chores.  We rushed through our dog duty so we could get rid of our hats before our friends saw us.  I still laugh when I think back to those bobble head moments.

The lesson I learned from my dad is that you have to laugh a little, even when you are doing the most mundane of tasks.  Don't be afraid to show your sense of humor.  I do admit I replaced my hat with my "happy cap."  When my family sees me wearing the cap with Maui inscribed on the front, they know I'm in an extra good mood.  They don't know I'm thinking about my picker-up-pooper-scooper hat.  Those memories are chicken soup for my soul.  Go ahead, give it a try.  Put on a crazy hat and brighten up the world around you.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Why Mothers Are So Special

Today is my mother's birthday.  We are separated by multiple states.  She doesn't Skype or use Facebook.  I'm at my limit on my cell phone minutes today and I can't make any more phone calls until the new billing cycle begins tomorrow.  Looks like I'm in a bit of a conundrum today.  I wish I could be with her on her special day so I could give her a giant hug.  The good news is this blog is followed by others who are close to her.  Here's a special message for the woman who brought me into this world:

Dear Mom,

Happy birthday.  Just wanted you (and the world) to know why mothers are so special.  Your granddaughter jumped off a 50 ft. cliff yesterday and then sent the video to Helen and me.  I think you already know first-hand what the expression on Helen's face meant.  Mothering instincts are to protect the off-spring.  You've always done your best to keep us from harm.

I often think about how it was for Mary, the Mother of God, to watch from the sidelines as her Son was put through His trials and Crucifiction.  You have seen your children endure many trials.  I'm sure you spend sleepless nights wondering how we are all doing.

I have good news for you on your birthday.  On February 29, I took the leap of faith, similar to jumping off a cliff.  I departed California and headed into the unknown.  Your son is in the heartland of America and I found the reason why I'm here.  This wouldn't be possible without all the great moms in this world who are just like you.  Your prayers for our protection are answered daily.  Your love for us provides nourishment for our souls.

Mom, I want the world to know that the best lesson you taught me is about Faith.  It's really not the words you use -- it's more about your actions.  Thanks for teaching me about God.  Thanks for all your constant prayers.  You, and mothers like you, are what gives the world hope.  Happy birthday.



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Noetically Speaking

There's a lot of talk these days about the political debates.  I prefer to focus my attention on another realm:  Is there any proof God exists?  This topic has been debated since the beginning of time.  If there is no God, then Heaven does not exist.  That also means there are no angels, no demons, and no Hell.  Those who hear thoughts in their hearts and minds claim to be able to communicate with angels.  That's what it means to communicate noetically.  Let's explore a little bit about angels:

There are many historical references to angels in the Bible.  They announced the birth of Jesus.  They warned of danger ahead.  They point us to the Creator of the universe.  They reflect the glory of God.  Fallen angels do the opposite.  They pull us away from all that is good.  They have no light to reflect.  They have no good news to share.  They attempt to reside in the dark places of our hearts.

Heaven and earth is in a tug-of-war.  Both sides already know who will prevail.  Ancient prophets were privy to future events.  Perhaps they communicated with angels in their dreams.  I will never criticize the blind man who sees what many others cannot or the deaf man who hears without using his ears.  For me, the debate is not about whether angels exist.  The bigger question is:  what is their message?  Maybe we should try listening -- noetically.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Living in a Swing State

I would like to thank my wife and youngest son, pictured on the left, for allowing me to publish their photo.  They are the inspiration for today's blog.  Ever since I took that first leap of faith on February 29 and moved from California to Iowa, my life has changed dramatically.  My son is working on his first guest post for this blog and will be sharing an important message soon.

It's a lot of fun living in a swing state.  The people here pay careful attention to the issues affecting quality of life.  Any time there is a special event, the whole town comes out.  I have to admit, I never in my wildest dreams imagined becoming a Raiders fan.  The video below features a couple of my nephews and offers a peek into high school life in our new hometown.  This story is the first in a series dedicated to what life is like in the Midwest.

Special thanks to all who make me and my family feel so welcome.  Stay tuned for more blog messages about this amazing new chapter in our lives.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Stay in the Race

Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us ~ Hebrews 12:1

My favorite feature on my watch is the chronograph.  I use it daily to time my breaks and keep track of activities.  When all the segments of my life are stitched together, my life looks like one huge marathon.  At times, the race track is dotted with hurdles.  Other days, it's mired in mud and it's hard to keep moving forward.  What matters most is not who is in front of me or behind me -- it's about endurance.  Here are some ideas to help you stay in the race:
  1. Find others who match your mile times and partner with them on the course.  The buddy system keeps you on the track.
  2. Take breaks along the way.  A fifteen minute break every two hours and a full day of rest once a week prevents burn-out.
  3. Keep going when you hit the wall.  The greatest joy is just around the corner.  You will miss it if you give up because of the pain you are experiencing.
  4. Stay fit.  Proper sleep, healthy eating, and regular exercise will help you with your endurance.
  5. Remember your race track is custom made just for you.  You are designed to go the distance.  If you find yourself stuck in the mud, look up.  Someone up there is watching over you.  Heaven is cheering for you.  You have what it takes to cross the finish line.
I can't tell you when your race will be over.  A marathon is 26.2 miles.  Life doesn't work that way.  Don't worry about when you will finish.  Keep running.  If you need a cane or a wheelchair for the last couple of miles,  keep moving.  Every step you take gets you closer to the finish line.  You can do it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Rant About My Social Media Addiction

Hi, my name is Michael and I'm addicted to social media.  It's been 144 days since I entered recovery.  My new employer assists me by restricting all cell phone usage during work.  There are no outside internet connections except for approved company sites.  These rules are necessary to make sure all employees are focused while on the job.  My rant about social media has to do with my personal time since this is the only time I'm on my Facebook page.  Here are some changes I'm implementing to help me with my recovery:
  1. Admit publicly I have a problem.
  2. Avoid sharing my personal political or religious views on social media sites.
  3. Ask my social media friends to refrain from sending me invitations to play games or join causes.
  4. Limit my Facebook time to ten minutes per day.  This time is for viewing pictures from loved ones and sending birthday wishes or other notes of encouragement.
  5. Set up a spreadsheet and track my daily minutes on social media sites.  70 minutes per week is my maximum.  If I cannot maintain self-control, I will take a Facebook timeout for 30 days.  If that doesn't work, I will terminate my account.
What addiction are you facing in your life and how do you plan to deal with it?  I hope today's post helps you to overcome whatever it is you are struggling with.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How to Prepare for Chaos

There is one statement I wish I could hear less in the workplace -- "that's the way it's always done."  This kind of stagnant thinking prevents new ideas and growth.  I prefer to hear, "is there a better way to accomplish this goal?"  This is also true for families.  Most people don't like change.  I embrace it and prepare for it.  The nickname for change is Chaos.  When he knocks on the door, I'm the first one to answer and invite him in, no matter what time it is.  Here are some pointers to help you prepare for Chaos when he calls on you:
  1. Expect Chaos to knock on your front door anytime.
  2. Tell yourself you will learn to turn on a dime.  This is the best way to deal with Chaos.
  3. Treat chaos as if he is your best friend and embrace him every time he visits.
  4. Understand how much Chaos can teach you.  You will advance faster than the people around you who try to hide from chaos or who resist him.
  5. Don't be afraid of Chaos.  It's normal for him to visit when you least expect him.  When you stop fearing him and decide you will always be ready no matter when he visits you, you will learn to be flexible.  
The best way to make your boss happy is to show him how well you get along with chaos.  If you happen to be a leader at home or in the workplace, the best thing you can do is teach others how to get along with Chaos.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Two Standard Deviations to the Left

Most writers complete their research before writing their next book.   There is always the one odd-ball who is located two standard deviations to the left of the group.  I pretty much live my life outside what is considered "normal."

Today's story is dedicated to the lost branch of the Mulligan family tree that has been found.  I would like to personally thank my cousin for sharing her journey with me.  One of her first questions was, "can you tell me about our family?"  At first, I think she was intimidated by all the success stories I shared.  She wasn't sure she would fit in.  There aren't too many Mulligans at the center of the bell curve.  Every family has the deviant, the one who skews things in the opposite direction.  That's me.  Most of my cousins are taller, brighter and stronger than this writer.  The one good thing I have going for me is that I married up.

The truth is that everybody has a position in life where they belong.  My dad often told us he was the black sheep of the family.  He felt the pressure of coming from a family that included ancient kings, a grandfather who was a veterinarian, a father who was a doctor, a brother who is regarded as a maverick -- perhaps the world's greatest orthodontist, rocket scientists, and a whole bunch of valedictorians.  I often thought my dad was wasting his time writing.  I tried to ignore my calling to follow in his foot steps.  One day, I woke up and accepted who I was created to be.  I love my family no matter where they are on the bell curve.  Every member is significant including those who were separated because of past events they had no control over.

I thank God for giving me everything I need to do what He asks of me.  I'm ready to cross the finish line one more time and offer up my contribution to the world.  The Caveman in the Mirror will release on St. Patrick's Day, 2013.  My hope is that readers will find a connection to the main characters who happen to be two standard deviations to the left.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Why Vulnerability is a Gift

 I bet you don't like it when you feel like an onion that is being peeled away one layer at a time.  Perhaps this is the reason I resented seeing myself as the naked caveman in the mirror the first time I asked the Holy Spirit to show me who I am in God's eyes.  The truth is, vulnerability is a gift -- an opportunity to knock down all the walls and show your heart to others.

When someone you love is attempting to peel away your layers of protection, they are seeking to get to know you.  You have two choices:  leave the layers up or become vulnerable and allow them to peel away.  Here's what you gain if you choose vulnerability:
  1. Real relationships.
  2. True friends.
  3. A fulfilled life.
  4. Spiritual awakening.
  5. Love.
Here's a bonus on today's topic presented by Brené Brown Ph.D., LMSW,  a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work:

Sunday, October 7, 2012

My Life as a Coach

If coaches were picked based on performance on the field of life, I would be the last candidate considered.  My track record is pathetic.  On the offensive line, many times my opponents spotted my weaknesses and exploited them.  As a running back, I fumbled more times than I have fingers and toes.  Defense wasn't much better.  Other teams love playing against me because they know they can run up the score.  My limited time in the quarterback position isn't anything to brag about; I have thrown more interceptions on the field of life than Ryan Leaf, a highly touted college athlete who was the San Diego Chargers first round draft pick.  Oh, the memories of that season.  The question I keep asking myself is: why in the world would God pick me to be a coach for His team?  Surely, there are much better candidates.

God already knows what's in the opponent's play book, so I'm practically cheating when He sends in the plays.  When the other side prepares to play against us, they don't expect much resistance.  God's team is filled with rejects.  There are prostitutes, drug addicts, adulterers, thieves, murderers, drunks, and some people who think they are too good to play on a team filled with such unworthy players.

When I study history, I have trouble understanding why the original team rejected the Perfect Player capable of completing the Hail Mary.  This Player gave His life for the team and He got Crucified.  The expansion draft didn't go very well.  The first coaches didn't like the rule changes or the game being opened up to everyone and their brother.

I'm not an insider.  On my dad's side of the family, my ancestors preferred watching the game from a local pub.  On my mom's side, the only ball sport they played was soccer.  That's why I believe God has a sense of humor.  Every morning when I wake up, I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to write about.  Then, the play call comes to me from above.  I laugh a little.  Then I type.  The field of life is in cyberspace.  Every morning at 8:08 AM, Pacific Time, the world can see the play calls.  I'm in the third quarter now.  The scoreboard looks lopsided.  The Owner of the team tells me to be patient.  He's planning on sending me a Retired player who will be a game changer.  The Hail Mary was named after His Mother.  Until that time, I will keep looking for more players to join the team.  No qualifications are needed.  Just believe God's team will prevail.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

How to Become a Rainmaker

My brothers and I told our California cousins we were rainmakers.  They believed us because every time they visited us at Thanksgiving, it rained.  My most vivid memory was the time my brothers and I dressed up as Indians and performed a rain dance around our giant eucalyptus tree in our backyard while our California cousins watched.  A massive storm hit about an hour later producing fierce winds and torrential rainfall.  The giant tree blew down, leaving a big hole in the ground.  My cousins were terrorized.  That was the last time we did a rain dance.

There is no magic needed to become a rainmaker in your family or in the workplace.  I'm fortunate to be part of a family of rainmakers who strive for excellence every day.  Here are some ideas to help you on your journey to becoming a rainmaker:
  1. Believe you can make a difference.  
  2. Learn something new every day and apply it to all areas of your life.  The best leaders are the ones who keep looking for new ways to get things done.  They pay attention to the details.
  3. Never give up.  Rainmakers are the people who solve problems when everyone else is standing around.  
  4. Be consistent.  Rainmaker status comes from getting things done every day, every time, without fail, no exception.
  5. Be available.  Rainmakers will stand firm when the storm hits.  Don't run and hide.  Be confident.  And if the tree falls in your backyard after one of your rain dances, go ask your parents for a swimming pool.
Would you like to share a story about how you became a rainmaker?  Please add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Friday, October 5, 2012

How to Monitor Your Relationship EKG

This morning when I woke up, a strange image popped into my head.  My wife granted permission to post a story about what she inspired in my heart.  I told her she is the main reason why my heart beats steadily.  Without her, my EKG reading would need life support.  I'm sharing this because I believe many relationships, when examined the same way a doctor evaluates your EKG, reveal irregularities pointing to danger.  Here are five steps to monitor your relationship EKG:
  1. Get a comprehensive relationship checkup.  Be thorough.  This means monitoring your EKG with every person in your life.  
  2. Decide to make changes when you identify a problem.  Poor communication is a contributing factor.  Failure to set common goals wreaks havoc on your relationship EKG.  Sit down and work out your differences.  
  3. Stop blaming everyone else.  The more irregularities you spot in your relationships, the greater the odds that you are the problem.  The fastest way to fix this is to admit your mistakes and commit to improvement.  Promise the people in your life you will do better and keep your word.
  4. Pray.  Include those you are struggling with.  There may be something going on that is causing pain.  If they develop better coping skills, they will ease up and you will see improvement.  You may be the only person in their world who is praying for their well being.
  5. Get regular relationship checkups.  They need long-term care.  Quick fixes won't last.  Make it a top priority to repair problem relationships and sustain healthy ones.
Thank you, Mrs. Mulligan, for your love.  Your presence in my life keeps my EKG readings steady.  You are my inspiration.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Stop Fooling Yourself

Like most people going through the teenage years, I often struggled to make it through the day.  There were things going on in my family life that knocked the wind out of my sails.  I spent four hours a day smashing tennis balls to block out my troubles.  At the end of the day, I retreated to my bedroom and played two Styx songs over and over on my record player.  The first, "Come Sail Away," calmed me down.  It was the second song, "Fooling Yourself," that gave me the inspiration I needed to get back on my feet.  At school, I masked my internal strife and kept a smile on my face.

One day, my wife surprised me and took me to a Styx concert.  Tears flowed when they played "Fooling Yourself."  I recalled all the times I listened to them sing, "why must you be such an angry young man when your future looks quite bright to me."  During those tumultuous teenage years, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be married to someone as special as my wife.  I never dreamed my children would bring me so much joy.  I was no longer an angry young man.

There are still times when I need a little boost and there's nothing better for me than to watch the YouTube video below and crank it up.  Listen to the lyrics and believe you can get through any situation in life, no matter how many times you get knocked down.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Why Friends Matter

Daniel Cui needed a friend.  He was a freshman goalie playing on a losing varsity soccer team.  He became the scapegoat.  Watch how his life turned around when a few friends decided to stand by their team-mate:

Do you have a friend like Daniel?  Reach out today and show your friend why he or she matters. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Perfect Referee

When the Perfect Referee exited the field a while ago, replacements were sent to oversee the game until He returned.  Just like the recent controversy with the replacements, many plays have been called improperly.  No matter which position you play, you know the rules of the game of life.  You can blame the ref for not seeing everything, or you may even get away with something, however, the Perfect Referee sees everything.

Life is more complicated than football.  Teams compete in their own divisions.  There are many rivalries.  I remember what the Perfect Referee said when he was searching for replacements to oversee the game until His return.  Jesus simplified the rules.  He said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

It was nice to see all the attention given to the first string refs when they returned to the football field.  Imagine how it will be when the Perfect Referee is back.  Loyal fans will be holding up their John 3:16 posters while everyone in the stadium does the Tim Tebow pose.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

How to Buy Wisdom

What price are you willing to pay to acquire wisdom?  Like a fine wine, wisdom has a wide range of ratings and you get what you pay for.  The better the vintage, the higher the price.  Most people avoid the finest labels because of the high cost.  If you seek to quench your thirst for wisdom, get ready for the sticker shock.  Don't cut corners.  Those willing to consume the highest quality wisdom on the open market will experience a fulfilled life.  Caution -- these steps are not cheap.  You are not buying a new car or a home, you are investing in potential.  Pop open the cork and experience wisdom with all five of your senses:
  1. The first and most important step is to seek out the most expensive bottle of wisdom available.  There is a bottle in the wine cellar with an important year -- the year you were born.  This bottle is your life.  Failing to uncork it is like failing to cash in on the winning lotto ticket.
  2. When you uncork the bottle, let it breathe.  The waiting period represents all the trials you must go through.  Don't avoid the trials.  Each one brings out the full flavor your life.
  3. Examine the wisdom in your wine glass.  Pay attention to the color and clarity.  It should be brilliant.  Your life has been fermented and aged to reach the highest levels of wisdom.
  4. Wisdom has a distinct aroma.  Swirl it in your glass and sniff it.  Allow your brain to interpret the unique flavor not found anywhere else in the world.
  5. Taste it.  Wisdom is a combination of sweet, sour, bitter and salty.  The more of these ingredients you have in your life, the finer the taste and the greater the value.
Once you have consumed wisdom, you will discover the meaning of your life.  You will gain the ability to understand why each grape is important.  You will want to meet the owner of the vineyard.  He will ask you one question, "did you share your bottle with others?"  Don't leave your wisdom in the wine cellar and don't drink it alone.  Make sure your bottle is empty by the time you get the check.