Friday, May 31, 2013

How to Handle a Setback

It was the perfect writing day -- my wife was at work and my children were each involved in their own activities.  I camped out for the day in my basement.  A severe thunderstorm struck in the middle of my writing time.  I unplugged the power chord to my laptop to prevent any power surges during a lightning strike and kept typing.

I was "in the zone."  The words were flowing so fast that I forgot to hit the save button.  The power blinked and knocked out my internet connection.  And my chapter was gone.  My allotted writing time expired.  I cringed.  I thought, how am I going to handle this?  Then, the answer came to me.  Instead of wallowing, I devised a plan to piece together a few minutes here and there before my Friday deadline.  Here is the lesson I learned:

Any setback can be overcome as long as you keep your attitude positive.  I felt like I was pilot on a plane who just lost an engine.  The first urge is to panic.  The next thought is to remember a time when this happened before and say to yourself, hey, I didn't crash...I'm a survivor. 

My next book chapter will be released today at 8:08 AM, Pacific Time at Caveman Reflections Cyber-bistro.  Once again, the plane will land safely and on time.  Yes, I suffered a setback.  No, the world didn't come to an end.  I lost an engine but I maintained a positive attitude throughout the storm.  How did you handle a setback in your life?  Your comments are welcome below.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

She's Cinco Cero Today

My wife is celebrating her 50th birthday today.  She doesn't like surprises so I won't be sharing today's blog with her.  If you happen to be FB friends with her, make sure to give her a shout out today.  Please don't tell her I sent you.

In honor of her special day, I'm keeping this message short so I can shower her with undivided attention.  See you tomorrow at 8:08. didn't hear about her birthday here.  Thanks!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Keep It Simple

Is your life complicated?  I recall times when I felt like my life was trapped in some kind of maze and I didn't know how to find a way out.  I failed to keep things simple.  I decided to go back to the basics.  Here are three ideas to help you keep it simple:
  1. Cut the clutter.  This includes anything in your life that distracts you from your goals.
  2. Stay focused.  Find three priorities to complete each day and don't stop until they are finished.
  3. Be grateful.  Every day is a new beginning.  It's a gift.  Enjoy it.  Savor it.  Learn from it.
Have a great day.  May it be simple and fulfilling.  Your comments are appreciated.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Check Your Foundation

I thought I found the perfect home when my family and I relocated to Iowa last year.  My wife took one look at the property and asked, "where's the basement?"  It didn't matter to her that the home was priced right or that two of her sisters were only blocks away.  For my wife, no basement meant no safety during tornadoes.  The search for the right home continued.

The home we chose came with a walk-out basement.  The foundation was carved out of a gentle slope.  Not only is the foundation rock-solid, the property has excellent drainage which keeps the rains out of the basement during severe storms.

Faith without a solid foundation is like a home built on top of the sand.  It may look good, however, it's doomed.  It has no chance of surviving stormy weather.  Ask yourself this question:  "Where's Jesus?"  If He is your foundation, you're on solid ground.  If not, it may be time to relocate.  Make Him the cornerstone of your life.  Check your foundation today.  Let me know what you find.

Monday, May 27, 2013

What Does Memorial Day Mean To You?

I shot the picture above one year ago in Town Square on Memorial Day.  It was the first time I celebrated Memorial Day in the Midwest.  The day is extra special for my family because my wife was born on Memorial Day.  Every year, volunteers in our community place the flags throughout the park-like setting for Memorial Day and again for Independence Day, my birthday.

I love how our town comes together to celebrate.  We have veterans dating back to WWII who show up in their uniforms to remember their fallen comrades.  Last year was picture-perfect.  This year, the rains are interfering with our barbecue plans.  A fog covers the park and the flags are saturated from three inches of rain that fell in the last twenty-four hours.  Though the day may appear dreary from the overcast skies, the memories of what our brave warriors did in past wars to give us our freedom will always be vivid in my mind every time I look at our flag or see one of our soldiers in uniform.

May God bless all the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom.  May all who lost a loved one be comforted on this special day.  One day is not enough to remember them.  They gave everything.  What does Memorial Day mean to you?  How will you celebrate?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Top 7 Relationship Mistakes

I field many questions in my day job as a marketer, usually with couples.  Yesterday, I was asked, "what happens if we move forward and then decide to get divorced?"  On the surface, the couple seemed happy, however, the question made it appear their relationship was in hot water.   My silver wedding anniversary is a little more than a year away.  Like most couples, we have had our share of good times and challenging times.  Here are ten relationship mistakes to avoid if you desire to stay with your partner for life:
  1. Swimming in the shallow end.  What are you afraid of?  Sharks?  You see your spouse taking on new challenges, however, the deep end of the pool makes you uncomfortable.  Learn to swim together and stay close to each other.
  2. Living in two time zones.  This is not necessarily related to geography.  You can live in the same house and be disconnected to each other.  If you go to bed and wake up at different times, this can add strain to a relationship.  I learned to give my wife quiet time in the morning.  She has a ritual that includes reading from three different books.  If I interrupt the routine, it spoils her time zone and the rest of her day is like having jet lag.
  3. Spouse attention-deficit disorder.  Your spouse needs your time and attention.  Any lack of attention will add stress to your relationship.
  4. Separation anxiety.  If you never allow your love to spend time on a hobby or a passion because the leash is too short, they may lose a part of themselves and become like a vegetable.  Time together is important.  The time apart allows both partners to grow.
  5. Lack of commitment.  Were those vows you said to one another real?  Remember?  In sickness and in health, in good times and in bad.  Commitment covers the whole spectrum, it's not a la carte.
  6. Wrong answers.  These usually come from questions like, "Does this outfit make me look fat?"  My answers are always meant to make my wife feel good about herself.  Try saying something like, "honey, you look great but I think the new dress you bought last week brings out your beautiful eyes much better."
  7. Your goals need a front-end alignment.  If you drive a car too long without a front-end alignment, your tires wear out too soon.  Same thing with goals.  Your relationship will be much smoother and last longer if you align your goals so you are both moving in the same direction.
Do you have any thoughts about relationship mistakes you would like to add in the comments section?  I would love to hear from you.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What Does Your Heart Say?

Have you ever been in a situation where your heart was speaking to you but you were deaf?  Perhaps it's because your head gets in the way with all that logic.  The voice of your heart speaks in whispers.  The voice in your head uses a megaphone.

If it's been a while since you heard your heart speak to you, maybe you need to find a quiet place.  Slow down.  Tell the voice in your head you need to give it a timeout.  Ready?  Ask your heart these questions:
  1. Are you happy?
  2. Do you feel loved?
  3. Are your needs satisfied?
  4. What changes in your life are necessary for your heart to be at peace?
  5. If you allowed your heart to be in charge instead of your head, what would your heart do differently?
The more attention you give your heart, the easier it will be for you to hear what it has to say.  And if you follow your heart you will end up in a place that defies all logic.  What will it be today?  Megaphone or whisper?  The choice is up to you.

Friday, May 24, 2013

10 Things To Add To Your Spring Cleaning

A news reporter was walking through an Oklahoma home to use the bathroom.  It was one of the only homes in the area still standing.  The homeowner apologized for the mess.  I thought to myself, What's my excuse?  I have too much clutter.  It goes beyond the traditional Spring cleaning we do annually.  Here are ten things I'm adding to my Spring cleaning list:
  1. Excuses.  I'm throwing all of them in the trash.
  2. Broken promises.  They hurt others.  I'm making an effort to repair any promises that are broken while doing my best not break any new commitments I make.
  3. Overcommitments.  This is a big one for me.  It causes me stress when I try to do too much.  I'm learning to say no without feeling guilty.  Reducing overcommitments will also cut down on broken promises.
  4. Debt.  This is not just for Spring time.  This is on my list every season of my life. 
  5. Guilt.  The best way to get rid of guilt is to apologize for any past mistakes.  If the apology is accepted, guilt disappears.  If the apology is not accepted, the guilt still disappears.  
  6. Jealousy.  This shows up when relationships are threatened due to outside influences.  I'm a competitive person and don't like to lose, however, when it comes to relationships, they are a two-way street.  If you truly care about others, you will allow them to be free of your meddling.  
  7. Envy.  This is wanting what others have so much that you forget to be content with what you have or what you are.  I don't want to be anyone else -- I want to be me.
  8. Ten pounds of body fat.  I really can't just throw this in the trash.  Nope.  The only way I can't cut ten pounds of excess weight is to increase my physical activity and change what I'm eating.  
  9. Second-guessing.  It's really easy to kick myself later, after the results are in from a decision I made.  I'm learning to accept the fact that I'm making choices based on all the information I have at that specific moment.  Second-guessing focuses on the past.  It destroys self confidence.  Mistakes are part of the learning process.
  10. The secret places where I hide my clutter.  They give the illusion that my home is clean.  This Spring I'm re-arranging where everything belongs so I don't have to dump them in my hiding places.
Do you have anything to add to the list?  What is on your Spring cleaning list this year?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Are You Confident?

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?  How would you feel if your boss asked you to speak in front of a large audience for five minutes without any notes?  That mirror you see in the picture works both ways -- you are either the cat who sees a lion or a lion who sees a cat.  What you see is related to your confidence level.  If you wish to become confident, try these suggestions:
  1. Be prepared.  Any time you face a difficult situation, the better you are at preparing, the easier the task.
  2. Rehearse.  My brothers and I walked away with armloads of stuffed animals at our grade school carnival because we practiced picking up empty coke bottles at home using home-made poles with rings attached at the end of the string.  We got banned because we won every time we played the game.
  3. Remember who you are.  You are a unique individual.  No other in the world is exactly like you.  Identify your specific gifts and remind yourself you are uniquely qualified for certain roles.  Concentrate on the areas where your strengths shine and avoid situations you were not made for.
Confident people attract other people.  They can't see the lion in you if you don't see it in yourself.  Your Creator sees the lion.  He created you in His own image.  Remember that the next time your knees feel shaky.  Do you have any ideas to help others gain confidence.  Feel free to add to the conversation in the comments section below.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What It Means To Go "All In"

Have you ever faced a moment in your life where you knew you were at the precipice and nothing would ever be the same again once you decided to go "all in"?  There are two choices.  They are black and white.  Your moment is not a's a decision.  It becomes a way of life.  I stood at this precipice five times.  Five times I told myself, I'm all in.  These are my moments of truth:
  1. The day I put the ring on her finger.  We believed in each other.  We shared the same dream.  Almost twenty-four years later, we still believe in each other; we still share the same dream.  We are both "all in" for life.
  2. The day I turned my life over to Jesus.  I gave Him permission to send me His Holy Spirit to dwell within me for eternity.  The moment was like taking my hands of the steering wheel on a jetliner and pushing the "autopilot" button without knowing where the plane would fly.
  3. The day I quit my job and joined a team of entrepreneurs.  The effort required a total commitment of time, talent and resources.  The sacrifices were great.  The experience was life-changing.  I became fearless.
  4. The day I became a writer.  I made a decision to write every day for the rest of my life.  This is a gift I was born with.  It's a part of my DNA.  I'm all in.
  5. The day I decided to relocate to Iowa.  In some ways, this was my greatest precipice of all.  I was living in a comfort zone and it was hard for me to let go.  It was like parachuting into a foreign country in the middle of the night with an empty wallet and no road map to follow.  
Don't worry about those butterflies in your stomach.  They are there to tell you it's time to fly.  And if they tell you to jump out of the plane in the middle of the night, trust your parachute.  Trust the One who is navigating.  Tell your butterflies they need to fly in formation.  Going "all in" is a safe bet.  What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What Seeds Are You Planting?

You don't have to be a farmer to plant seeds.  If you are a teacher, parent, entrepreneur or community leader, you are like the farmer who tends to his fields.  Try planting these seeds in your garden and watch your world change:
  1. Hope seeds.  When you plant these seeds in your field of dreams you are a visionary who sees great potential.
  2. Faith seeds.  You believe in things others cannot see.  When your faith seeds sprout, your garden attracts curious onlookers.
  3. Love seeds.  These are the most powerful of all seeds.  They are capable of growing in fields infested with weeds.  They never die, even when the conditions are unfavorable.  Plant these seeds and your life will be blessed beyond measure.
I'm looking forward to a bumper crop this year.  How about you?  Please share what seeds you are planting in your garden this year.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

How To Prepare For a Tornado

Although I'm a two-time wildfire survivor who narrowly escaped flames that consumed by next-door neighbor's California home and emptied out my entire community for a week at a time, I'm a newbie at tornadoes.   Mother Nature has a way of dishing out all sorts of challenges specific to geographic areas. 

Last night, lightning blasted our Midwest community at a rate of 300 - 500 strikes every ten minutes.  We lost power for three hours.  A lightning bolt hit a tree about 100 yards from our kitchen window causing it to split in half and crash into our neighbors backyard.  Then, the high winds pelting our home ceased.  My wife said, "when the winds stop, it's the most dangerous time...this is how it looks before a tornado touches down."  Before she could finish talking, I was headed for my son's room in our walkout basement to join our children, already camped out in his closet.  We may be repeating these actions today and tomorrow as the jet stream is aligned just right to produce the perfect storm with possible tornadoes.   If you ever visit an area where tornadoes are likely, follow this checklist:
  1. Flashlights for every family member is a must.  We use the LED flashlights that have a hook for your belt.  Once the power goes out, you can use the flashlight as a lantern or a traditional flashlight.
  2. Make sure your cell phones are fully charged.  They are your life-line when you lose your TV signal.  This happens often for us because we have satellite TV and the high winds cause a signal loss.
  3. Download a weather app for your smart phone.  This warns you if a tornado is in the vicinity.  It's more effective than sirens because many funnel clouds can't be spotted during the night by the people who activate the sirens and the weather app is more accurate.
  4. Keep blankets and pillows in the area designated as the safest location in your home.  For us, it's our son's bedroom closet in the back of our walk-out basement.
  5. Keep a bag of ice in the freezer.  In case of power loss, transfer the bag of ice to a cooler and avoid opening your refrigerator or freezer until your power returns.
  6. Designate one person outside your area to be the contact person.  Modern technology allows the whole world to know when you're in a tornado watch zone.  You will drain your cell phone if you are not careful.  Let one person be in charge of keeping other family members updated and avoid using your cell phone as much as possible.
  7. Do not go outside.  Even if the funnel cloud is miles away, hail is likely to accompany the tornadic winds.  We had reports of hail the size of oranges in a neighboring community last night. 
  8. Stock up on bottled water and easy-to-eat dry foods.
  9. Keep bicycle helmets in your safe zone.  It's important to keep your head safe from flying debris.
  10. Stay calm.  This works best when you are prepared.  You have everything you need to get through the storm.  Be patient.  The storm will pass.  And the more times you deal with Mother Nature, the easier it gets.
Do you have any suggestions to add to the story?  Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Iowa Wave

"That man driving past us just waved at you, dad, and you didn't wave back,"  said our youngest son the first week we relocated to Iowa.

"Sorry, son, I didn't see him waving," I responded.

"Dad, everybody in Iowa waves.  You're being rude."

Our son is right.  Just about everybody you pass by on the Iowa roads waves.  It's subtle.  Here's how it works...
  1. Keep one hand on top of the steering wheel at all times so it's visible to others drivers.
  2. As you approach an oncoming car, lift two fingers off the steering wheel.
  3. Smile.
  4. Give a slight head nod.
  5. Repeat.
No words are necessary.  This is how Iowans communicate.  Silent but effective.  And friendly.  My family has been here over a year now and we've all become masters of the Iowa wave.   Beware of drivers who are still in the learning process.  They often forget steps three and four and their Iowa wave is not yet fully developed.  The middle finger displayed by itself in an upright position indicates an out-of-state driver is probably on the road.  This is usually accompanied by excessive speeding.  Be patient with these drivers.  Eventually, they will catch on.  The Iowa wave is contagious.  Give it a try today and make some new road friends.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

You Are What You Eat

Our youngest son put several quotes on our refrigerator last night.  Among them was a quote by one of his heroes, mixed martial arts fighter, Frank Mir.  This hit me like one of Mir's knockout punches:

"You know what the true definition of Hell is?  It's when you die, you get to meet the person you could have been."

His words are like the broccoli in your refrigerator you want to skip over in favor of the ice cream.  The simple truth is you are what you eat.  Knowing how much our son loves MMA, this quote will remain posted for a long time, feeding our brains every time we read it.

A little over a year ago, our youngest son made a decision.  Instead of waiting to meet the person he could have been in the afterlife, he decided to become that person.  We watched him shed 40 pounds in a matter of months.  We witnessed his transformation from a casual wrestler to a committed attack dog who absolutely refuses to be defeated.  Anyone in Iowa will tell you that signing up for high school wrestling is like boot camp -- only tougher.  I'm fortunate to be a part of a family where we choose to eat the broccoli.  How about you?  Do you want to wait to meet the person you could have been or do you want to become that person today?  Just remember this:  you are what you eat.

Friday, May 17, 2013

What a Wonderful World

I see trees of green........ red roses too
I see em bloom..... for me and for you
And I think to myself.... what a wonderful world ~ Louis Armstrong 

The day my dad passed away at my sister's home, a small twin rose emerged from a single bud just yards away from where he sat with his twin brother, Mike.  No one noticed it.  It was overshadowed by the events of that Spring day in May, eleven years ago.  Several days later, family members from all over the country arrived for the funeral.  The twin rose was discovered when guests were posing for pictures in front of the rose plant.  It was impossible to miss the twins, now the size of two grapefruits in bold red color, like the shade of lipstick a supermodel wears to accentuate her face.

I wonder if Louis Armstrong ever saw a red rose as beautiful as the double rose Mother Nature delivered outside my sister's front door or if he ever observed a Spring day like I'm seeing in my backyard this morning.  I do know this...I'm thinking to myself, what a wonderful world.  Enjoy this video from Louis Armstrong and take a moment to look outside at the trees of green, the red roses -- and all the beauty of nature made for me and you...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What's Worth Repeating?

There are many times in my life when I make mistakes.  A wise man once told me, "Acknowledge.  Move on."  That advice works well for all my blunders and gaffes.  But, what about the times when I stumble upon something that actually exceeds my expectations?  I say, "repeat it every day and make it part of your life."  Here are some examples I've stumbled upon:
  1. Double up on established habits.  One day I was in a hurry and I decided to do my leg raise exercises while flossing my teeth.  I count to fifty every morning while doubling up on flossing and exercising.  My teeth and my calves are in great shape.
  2. Pack a lunch.  I love peanut butter and jelly.  I also love reducing my debt.  By packing a daily lunch, I get to do two things I love at the same time.  It's healthy and it's saves money.
  3. Praying.  This activity was once reserved for the times in my life when I was backed into a corner.  On good days when everything was going great, I forgot to say thanks for the answered prayers.  This is now a permanent part of my life.
  4. Start your day with your most important priority.  For me, it's writing and blogging.  No matter how busy I am, I make sure to wake up early enough to write first.  This is one of those days when I need to be at my day job early.  That means I need to start my day early enough to accomplish my writing priorities.
  5. Acknowledge the contributions others make before moving on.  It only takes a few seconds to say thank you.  I make a point to do this in all my interactions.  Repeat this every day for thirty days and watch what happens with your relationships.
What are some of the things you do in your life that are worth repeating every day?  Please add your comments below.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What Happens When You're Consistent?

There may be a good reason you're not making forward progress in key areas of your life.  Imagine you are filling up a leaky bucket.  The water supply turns on and off randomly and you have no control over it.  This is how your life looks when you fail to set up a consistent daily routine.  Without a steady supply, everything eventually leaks out and you have nothing but an empty bucket.  If you're serious about adding consistency to your life, it helps to identify the leaks.

My wife and I set up a coffee can labeled "vacation fund."  We decided to put our loose change in the can.  On days when my wallet was thin, I held on to my change rather than drop it in the slot.  And when I was really short, I raided the can.  Our youngest son noticed the quarters he was contributing were disappearing.  Ouch!  Busted!

Here's what happens when you pay attention to the leaks and decide to be consistent with retirement planning, debt management, physical fitness, or any area your life that needs some help:
  1. Your attitude improves.  There is something special about seeing your bucket of change for your vacation fund get bigger.  You picture yourself treating your family to an awesome vacation that is paid for from your bucket.
  2. You gain confidence.  Once you see the results from repairing your leaky bucket and filling it daily, you realize you can apply this idea to other areas of your life where consistency is lacking.
  3. You are fun to be around.  Consistency is contagious.  It attracts other people into your life who are inspired by your positivity.  The big conversation around our dinner table is about family vacations.  This topic is popular and the whole family is getting excited, even though our vacation is a year away.
If you decide to add consistency to your life, please share how you are going to fill your bucket.  Thanks for adding to the conversation.  Remember to keep your hand out of the cookie jar... or the coffee can!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How To Repair a Broken Spirit

As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength. ~ Psalm 138:8

When I first read the news my California friend was shot down while flying a helicopter on an overseas mission, my heart sank.  I thought about Bryan Forney's wife and young children.  The news was vague.  His body was covered in burns.  People all over the world joined together to pray for his recovery.  Though his body was broken, his spirit remains unscathed.  Every day, Bryan's wife sends out reports in the Forney Journey.  Soon, Bryan will be leaving the ICU.  He is a great example. 

For those of us facing difficult challenges who feel broken on a spiritual level, here are some ideas to help repair a broken spirit:
  1. Surround yourself with people who believe in you.  This is a major factor in the Forney Journey.  Bryan has a strong wife who loves him and is beside him every day.
  2. Ask for prayers.  You don't ever need to be alone.  There are prayer warriors who can assist you when your spirit is broken.
  3. Don't ever give up.  Your circumstances are temporary.  Your spirit is permanent.  Learn to keep your spirit sheltered from your circumstances.
  4. Slow down.  Quiet time is good for the soul.
  5. Pray.  Your spirit may be broken because you are disconnected from God.  Once your lines of communication are restored, your spirit will be healed.
May your day be filled with many blessings.  May your spirit be restored.  Thanks for visiting today.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Do you have a backup plan?

Please pardon any typos today. My regular morning writing routine crashed and burned when my internet connection slowed to 14.4 speeds. I switched to my backup plan, typing using 2 thumbs on my cell phone.

I'm determined to write in all circumstances.  Successful people don't make excuses -- they find a way to win in all circumstances.  I'm giving this day two thumbs up.  Remember to make backup plans for all the important priorities in your life.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Celebrating Our Mothers

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms.  This is your day.  May you savor it to it's fullest and may you be surrounded by loved ones.  I will be calling my mother later today to wish tell her how much I love her and how special she is.  Though we are separated by several states and I haven't seen my mother in over a year, I will be thinking of her all day today.  She is one special lady.

In our home, we have a tradition of pampering the lady of the house.  Today is extra special.  Our daughter rejoined the family last night.  She planned her return trip from college in California to be here for Mother's Day.  Before her arrival, she sent her brothers a text message asking for them to purchase all that will be needed for breakfast in bed.  I'm headed off to work knowing my wife will be treated like a queen.  This tradition started long ago when our children learned to make home-made Mother's Day gifts in preschool.  Their tiny hands are imprinted on plates that my wife will treasure the rest of her life.  These are the kind of days that put a big smile on my face.  I am a blessed man to have such an awesome mother and a wife who makes me feel like a king, even on days when all eyes are focused on the queen.  May God bless all the mothers and may they know how much we love them.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Are You Capable of a Comeback?

The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. ~ Job 42:12

The first half of Job's story was so pathetic that most people only remember all his tragedies.  Job lost everything - his possessions, his friends, even his will to fight on.  The story didn't end there.  Job prayed.  And God heard his prayer.  Job made the greatest comeback in Bible history.

There are no sheep, camels, oxen or donkeys in my life.  My greatest asset is the ability to pray.  Like Job, I believe there is room for improvement in the latter part of my life.  The momentum is already building.  I'm blessed with a wife who is willing to stand by my side as we battle the dragon named debt.  We both believe we are capable of a comeback.  How about you?  What area of your life would you like to improve?  What plans are you making to achieve a comeback?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Rally Cap

In baseball, when it's late in the game and the home team is down, fans and players turn their caps inside out and upside down to inspire a comeback.  If you are struggling in the game of life, you can do the same thing.  Try these ideas and put your own rally together today:
  1. Do something different.  
  2. Change your routine.  
  3. Pray for a miracle.  
  4. Don't give up hope.
  5. Encourage the people around you to rally with you.
Sometimes, a rally begins with one small success.  Build on that.  Once the momentum gets going, that small success turns into a series of hits that change the outcome.  In my personal life, my wife and I are wearing our rally caps in our battle against debt.  We have men on base and we are in position to get a run.  Even though the score may be lopsided against us, it's a great time for a rally.  It reminds me of my days in San Diego when the Padre's mascot flipped his baseball cap upside down and waved a flag that said, "keep the faith."  Fans would hold up signs saying, "we believe."

Whatever area of your life needs some help today, I hope you find a way to turn things around.  It could be as simple as putting on your rally cap.  Do you believe?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Midlife Opportunities

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when all you wanted to do was hold on to something?  Maybe that something is your youth?  You see your children growing up and perhaps you're not ready for them to leave the nest.  These challenges are common to many people in my age group -- the baby boomers.  My optimism helps me to see opportunities when others see crisis.  Here are some examples:
  1. Letting go of your children when they reach adulthood allows them to spread their wings and fly.  New nests cannot be built when your children are too comfortable in their old nest.  They were born to soar.  And your job is to teach them how to build their own nests.  If you do your job well, you will get the opportunity to help them even after your own nest is empty.
  2. Just because you are getting older every day, it doesn't mean you can't get better.  Each day adds a little more wisdom and experience to your life.  The opportunities don't stop in midlife unless you stop pursuing them.  Challenge your brain by learning new activities.  Learn a new language.  Travel.  Meet new people.
  3. Cut the anchors in your life.  You know what they are.  They are all the things in your life that prevent you from leaving the harbor where you think you are safe.  That is the real crisis -- not letting go of the anchor and rotting your life away because you don't want anything to change.  You are missing out on all the opportunities waiting for you on distant shores.
It was a little scary letting go of my old life in Southern California.  I was comfortable.  Other than a couple of wildfires and an occasional earthquake, my home was my security blanket and I was Linus from Peanuts.  I decided it was time take my thumb out of my mouth and let go of the blanket.  I'm discovering all kinds of midlife opportunities in the heartland of America.  What kind of midlife opportunities do you have in your life?  I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why Our Country Doesn't Like Singing Kumbaya

Did you ever hold hands and sing Kumbaya at the campfire?  It may only be a distant memory.  People are afraid to sing this song in public because it's not politically correct.  The song traces its roots to a time in our history when our ancestors came to this country to escape persecution.  Our founding fathers were not afraid to reference God in the Declaration of Independence or sing about Him in songs of worship.

Long ago, believers gathered around the campfire and sang, "come by here, Lord, come by here."  The words got modified when the song was sung at campfires in Africa, led by missionaries.  Now, the song may be on the endangered species list.  Just like the original lyrics to Kumbaya, something changed in our culture.  The original idea of separating church and state has been replaced with a new idea meant to appease the other side.  Singing Kumbaya at a campfire in a public park is considered crossing the line because tax money was used to build the park.  Do we need to modify the original lyrics to say "Don't come by here, Lord, Don't come by here"?  Will we change history by scrubbing all references to God from our public buildings?  I don't see a lot of hand holding.  I wonder what our founding fathers would say if they were around today.

Oh Lord, I ask here you to come by here.  Please send your Spirit upon us.  Do not forsake us even as our leaders try to force you out.  I invite you into my heart.  May all I meet today feel your presence... Kumbaya.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How Does Your Attitude Rank?

It's a good thing your attitude score is not measured by what happens to you.  Think of your life as if you're a professional baseball player.  Every day you are at risk of injury, being traded to another team, or even being cut from your own team.  About the only thing you have control over is your attitude.  You choose if you want to take batting practice to improve your odds of winning.  You choose how you will deal with difficult situations or people.

I have seen some really tough pitches in my personal life lately.  Although my own stats in key areas of my life may appear below the Mendoza Line, that's a batting average below .200, my own personal attitude score has never been below a "10."  Here are some things I do to keep my attitude rank at the top of the charts:
  1. I expect strikeouts to happen at any moment of my life.  These strikeouts are the things I have no control over.  They help me to learn more about my adversaries.  Each time they throw me a pitch I haven't seen before, I thank them; they are accelerating my personal growth opportunities.  I know if I stay in the game, eventually I will master even the most difficult situations.
  2. I love to frustrate my opponents.  They single me out because they can't stand a person who keeps his cool under pressure.  If I fail to keep my attitude at a "10" -- they win.  They will never find my attitude strike zone.  I protect it with everything that I am.  I win the attitude game every day as long as I keep it at a "10."
  3. I remember this Bible quote when I'm facing my most challenging days... For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,  neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39.
Keep in mind that you are only in Spring training.  The real game does not begin until your death.  Everything else is batting practice.  Don't let anything change your attitude rank.  And make sure Jesus is your coach.  Anyone who has power over death and the keys to Heaven is worth getting to know on a personal level.  How can your attitude be anything less than a "10" when Jesus is on your team?  Your comments are welcome below.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Start With The Person Nearest You

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” ~ Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa kept things simple.  She never got overwhelmed with the long lines.  She focused on the person who was in front of her.  Her message helps me get through days when I have trouble seeing the end of the line of people who need my help.  Try these ideas to help you get through a busy day:

  1. Start with the person nearest you.  
  2. Stay with them until they get all the answers they need from you.
  3. Keep your eyes fixed on the person in front of you and block everything else out.
  4. Don't worry about time.  If you don't spend enough time with the person who needs your help, you will not make a difference in their lives.
  5. It's not about numbers, it's about quality.  Do your best each moment of the day.  Give the person in front of you all the attention they need from you.
These ideas also work well in cyber-space.  If you are reaching out to readers who may be thousands of miles away, follow the same rules and help them, one at a time, as if they were standing in front of you.  Thanks for taking the time to visit today.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Are You Crazy Enough To Change The World?

Is there a way to measure how crazy one needs to be in order to change the world?  Perhaps there is  some way to identify individuals capable of such a feat.  In my opinion, one ingredient must be present -- the belief that one individual has the potential to change the world.  Possessing this ingredient is like walking through an airport scanner; the red lights blink and an alarm goes off warning others that a crazy man or woman is in their midst who thinks differently.  They are like Christopher Columbus who believed the world was round when the world believed it was flat.  They sail off in search of new worlds unafraid of what the world labels them.

I don't know if I'm crazy enough to change the world, however, I do know one thing -- the needle on my crazy meter is definitely moving.  My friends, family and co-workers will confirm this.  And if you happen to know any of my cousins, they will warn you not to sit next to me on the plane, that is, if I happen to make it past the scanners.  You see, some of my craziness might spill over to you and you are at risk of being infected.  You may end up believing you are capable of changing the world.  I'm here to tell you it's possible.  Just follow these steps:
  1. Find something you are really passionate about.
  2. Believe that if you develop that gift and share it with the world, the world will change.
  3. Develop your gift.
  4. Share it with the world.
  5. Don't stop sharing, even if the world labels you as "crazy."
  6. Get involved with people who share your passions.  This is your support group.
  7. Ask your support group to help you build on your strengths.  They don't care if you're crazy.
  8. Don't worry about rejection.  Crazy people are usually outcasts until they are understood.
  9. Convince others that it's okay to swim upstream, be a misfit, or even a little bit crazy.
  10. When the world begins to change, give all the credit to the One who inspired you to come out of your comfort zone.
When I first started my journey, I had a lot of trouble understanding many of the verses in the Bible, especially this one from the prophet Isaiah...

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. ~ Isaiah 55:8

What does one do when they come across a statement like this from a prophet considered crazy by many in his time?  Call me crazy, but I believe a great place to begin is to change your thoughts and change your ways.  Follow the ten steps outlined above and let me know how it goes.  Your comments are welcome below.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Way We Weren't

Memories never tell the full story.  They selectively choose the realities of our past.  Barbra Streisand sings "memories may be beautiful and yet what's to painful to remember we simply choose to forget."  This morning I was reflecting on my past.  My own hindsight happens to be 20/20.  I clearly remember the day I met my future wife.  The day I proposed to her on a blanket on the beaches of Maui is like yesterday.  I see my children running around on the miniature soccer fields with their friends.  These are all great memories, however, my memories also tell me of the way we weren't.  These memories stick around in my brain to teach me important lessons about what I am to become.  Here are some examples of the things my memories tell me I lacked:
  1. Smart money moves.  I looked for short cuts.  Sometimes, I went out too far on a limb with my investment choices.
  2. Good listening skills.  There were many times in my past when God used all kinds of ways to reach me, however, I was deaf to His voice and to the voices of others He sent to get my attention.
  3. Leap-frogging over the "todays."  Too much focus on a future event detracts from the beauty today offers.
My memories caution me that past days are gone forever.  Those days are not to be re-lived.  They serve to teach me how to live "today" better.  I'm learning that my listening can improve with age.  I see the present value of each moment.  And it's not too late to become financially fit.  How about you?  What do your memories teach you?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Why I Won't Win Any Popularity Contests

"He must increase but I must decrease." ~ John 3:30

I read a great quote this morning..."You are not a citizen of this world trying to get to Heaven, you are a citizen of Heaven trying to get through this world."  It reminded me of the Bible quote from John 3:30 -- He must increase but I must decrease.  The idea of popularity contests keeps the focus on the individual.  The idea of being a citizen of Heaven keeps the focus on Jesus.  How many popular people do you know who spend the majority of their time talking or writing about Jesus?  I'm not referring to people who are in some kind of ministry, I'm talking about regular people who have regular jobs.

Just for fun, answer these questions...
  1. Would you sit next to one of "those people" on an airplane?
  2. Would you post a comment written by one of "those people"?
  3. Which is more important to you, being popular or doing your best to make Jesus popular?
If you are seeking to win a popularity contest and you are a citizen of Heaven, you may not win many votes.  I know I won't.  I'm okay with that.  My role is to decrease so there is enough space in my heart for Jesus to increase.  My role is to love others, especially the ones who may not love me.  What is your role?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

How I Pulled The Plug On Annoying FaceBook Ads

I found my inspiration to install an ad blocker on my web browser this morning after reading a quote from the founder of Facebook.  He claimed in an interview "folks on Facebook are happy with all the ads we're showing them."  I wasn't part of the survey.  I don't like clutter.  Every day there seems to be more ads and less relevant information in the News Feed.  Every day -- until today.  Yep.  I found a really easy way to block all those unwelcome ads.  Suddenly, there are no more mosquitoes at my picnic.  There are no ants searching for what I like so they can invade my privacy.  Here's how I pulled the plug on annoying Facebook ads:
  1. Install Mozilla Firefox as your main browser.  It's free, it's non-profit and it's open source.  It works great.  Click here for the link.
  2. Install Adblock Plus, a web browser extension that blocks banners, pop-ups and video ads.  It protects your online privacy.  Over 200 million users have downloaded it.  Click here for the link.
  3. Enjoy chatting with your friends in an environment free of uninvited pests.  No mosquitoes, no ants and no clutter.
Were you part of the survey that said you were happy with all the ads?  Or are you part of the 200 million like me who want more privacy and less ads?  Your comments are welcome below.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How to Handle a Dead End

There have been times in my life when I didn't like the road signs in front of me.  I spent twenty-three years living on a cul-de-sac.  Though I appreciated the lack of cars traveling in our precious neighborhood, I never viewed my street as a dead end.  That's the best way to approach any type of dead end you may be facing in your career, your personal life or any other area you feel is not working out.  Try looking at your dead ends this way:
  1. Dead ends are not the end of your journey -- they are signs you need to take a detour.
  2. Dead ends are road signs suggesting you are going in a meaningless direction.  They are there to warn you there is a better alternate route.
  3. Dead end signs are like maps.  They are tools to help you find your way.  If you pay attention to the dead end sign, you will avoid delays on your journey.
  4. Dead ends teach lessons.  They warn us we need to make changes in our lives.  There are an important part of our journey.
  5. The dead end sign sends a message that complements all the other road signs we face in life.  It is a necessary component of any worthwhile journey.  Consider it a cul-de-sac you visit while you re-route your life.
I will always treasure that dead end I lived on for so many years.  It wasn't meant to be my final destination on this planet.  How about you?  What do you do when you encounter a dead end sign?  Your comments are welcome below.