Monday, June 30, 2014

Are You a Clutter Junkie?

I pulled into my driveway the other night and noticed a large crowd a few houses down the street.  An auctioneer was outside selling personal items.  It was a frenzy.  I was tempted to check it out.  Then I came to senses.  One word popped into my head as I watched dozens of people carting off piles of stuff to their cars – clutter.  I battle with clutter daily.  Declutterizing my life is one of my priorities and I admit this is a great challenge.

The phrase, garbage in, garbage out applies to clutter.  Don't let garbage in.  Don't allow junk to pile up in your home.  Your junk drawer isn't attached to a black hole.  Everything that goes in, stays in.  Change your mantra:  No garbage in, all garbage out!  Put yourself clutter on a diet.  Organize your life.  And don't forget to take the garbage out.  You will feel much better once you lose the weight of all your clutter.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Assign Peak Energy to Peak Tasks

I've been tweaking my peaking ever since I discovered I'm a writer.  It's been a long and winding road.  The lessons I learned about maximizing productivity are applicable to any area of your life.  You may have heard "do it now" or "do the most important task first."  These ideas may help you complete the important tasks in your life, however, they may not necessarily help you complete them to the best of your ability.  That's because your peak energy levels may occur at different times throughout the day.

Try keeping a log for one week recording how you feel from the time you wake up until you go to sleep.  Look for patterns showing times when you feel you are at your best.  You may discover you're a night owl.  If that's the case, re-arrange your day so your peak energy levels are reserved for your most important priorities.  Watch your performance soar.  This made a big difference in my writing life.  Today is my 1,768th consecutive day of writing.  Nearly 100% of my posts are penned in my "writing zone," the point in my day of maximum productivity.  That time period happens to be when most others are still snoozing.  How about you?  Are you working on your most important tasks when you have the highest energy levels?  Please share your answers in the comments section.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Power of Probing Questions

The best way to win an argument is to avoid it.  Rather than fighting with the other side, why not try understanding why your opponent is disagreeing with you?  Children do this naturally.  They ask the why questions, like, "Why can't I stay out late?" or "Why do I have to follow your rules?"  They're probing.  My favorite probing question is, "Why do you feel that way?"  It forces the other side to share feelings.  In order to find areas of agreement, you need to get past the first why question and dig deeper, like peeling away layers of an onion.  It looks like this:

You ask:  "Why do you think your idea is the best solution?"

Opponent answers:  "Because that's the way I always do things."

Follow-up question to probe deeper:  "Why do you always do things the same way?"

Opponent answers:  "Because it works for me."

You ask, "Would you consider trying a new approach so we can compare it to the way you always do things and see if the new idea might give us better results?"

These probing questions allow you to understand what motivates your opponent.  You are looking for areas of agreement.  This method keeps the focus on how the other side feels.  Try it.  Let me know if this helps.

Friday, June 27, 2014

How to Win a Staring Contest With Your Laptop

My best friend from high school came up with a theory about time management.  He told me, "the job expands to fit the time allotted."  I have a feeling this is true for most creative people.  Why does it take some people years to write one book?  Perhaps it's because we don't set up deadlines.  I sometimes spend hours staring at a blank page on my laptop while the clock ticks.  It's like some kind of staring contest.  Here's how to win.  It's based on my buddy's theory about time management:
  1. Don't give yourself too much time to work on a project.  The job will expand to fill the time you set aside.
  2. Work on one specific task at a time until it's complete.  This keeps you focused.
  3. Learn to use the clock properly.  If you find yourself staring at your laptop too much, just reduce the time you're budgeting and watch your productivity soar.
In my personal life, I got too carried away with this theory and ended up not allowing enough time in my day to work on my novel.  I missed two self-imposed deadlines in a row.  Chapter 51 is delayed until the 4th of July.  The good news is I'm spending much less time staring at blank pages on my laptop and more time writing on a time budget.   If you have any time management theories you would like to share, please post them in the comments section below. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Try This Before You Make an Important Decision

Our youngest son returned home yesterday from a three week solo vacation in Southern California.  He is close to announcing his decision about his future plans.  I asked him about his thought process and he replied, "Dad, I'm going to pray about this.  I've known my destiny for a long time and when I'm ready I will share my plans with everyone else."

I think back to all the times in my life when I faced important decisions.  There is one common thread – I prayed.  There were always three answers, yes, no or not yet.  Prayer works.  Try it.  It will help you find your destiny. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I Found My Running Legs

Some big mile markers are on the road ahead.  My wife and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary next month.  And my five year blogaversary is coming up in August.  There were times when my legs cramped.  I wondered if my pace was right.  No matter how hilly the course got or how difficult the conditions, I told myself, "keep running."  Long distance runners will tell you there is a time when you hit the wall.  Every runner experiences this.  The real battle isn't in your legs – it's in your head.  You decide whether to keep going or give up.  The good news is that if you can find a way to keep going, something good happens – you find your running legs.

Here are some words that describe what it feels like to find your running legs:  exhilaration, confidence, hope, perseverance, optimism, positivity, endurance, peace, strength and happiness.  It feels good to be on the track.  I don't really care when I cross the finish line.  It's not the finish line that I'm concerned with.  It's the journey.  I plan to savor every step.  Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share the road with you.  You inspire me to keep going.  If you have a moment, please share what mile markers you are approaching in your life.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Would You Use a Time Machine if You Were Offered a Ride?

I'm a big science fiction fan.  And time travel intrigues me.  That's today's blog question:  Would you use a time machine if you were offered a ride?  Would you go forward or backward?  How far?  I decided if given the chance, I would decline.  For me, there's no time like the present.  Yesterday already happened and tomorrow will be visited when the time is right.  There's no time like right now.  The One I follow already gave the world a spoiler alert about the future.  Today is a great day to prepare for what's ahead.  It's time to get busy.  Have a great day.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Why Mistake Free Living Isn't Living

Mistakes are like driving through a construction zone.  The roads are torn up and difficult to navigate.  You have to slow down.  Sometimes you get lost and must retrace your steps to find your way home.  Those who avoid mistakes aren't really living.  They aren't growing.  They aren't challenging themselves to make better roadways for future travel.

If the mistakes in my life were marked with construction cones, there would be enough cones to cover the interstate from coast to coast.  The good news is that I'm really living.  I thrive in the cone zone.  This is where new ideas are hatched.  I find better ways to do things.  The best solutions appear when I'm driving in hazardous conditions.

Yes, you can avoid mistakes.  The price is high.  You will never leave your comfort zone.  You will never explore new opportunities.  You will never live your life to its fullest.  In fact, you will never really live.  The choice is yours.  I will always choose the cone zone, no matter how treacherous it may be.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

You Are What You Focus On

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” ~ Lao Tzu

I participated in a cholesterol screening at my day job yesterday.  The results showed I'm in the normal range.  That wasn't true the last time I was evaluated.  It turns out that my lack of focus last year on healthy food choices caused my cholesterol levels to soar.  I made a commitment to changing my food habits.  I said good-bye to junk food.  My focus on healthy foods paid off.  I'm slimmer, more energetic and about ten pounds lighter.  All I did was focus.  I took it one day at a time.  It paid off.  This lesson can be applied to every area of my life.  It starts with a thought.  The thought turns into words.  Words become actions.  Actions become habit.  Habits become character.  And character becomes destiny.  You are what you focus on.  Change your focus and you can change your life.  Are you ready to put your thoughts under a microscope?  What do you see?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What Happy Couples Have in Common

My wife came home the other day with some great news.  She said, "honey, I took the quiz about 25 things happy couples do and we do all of them."  She wasn't kidding.  I read over the list and agreed with her.  There really weren't any big things on the list.  They were all little things – like holding hands in public.  Or asking each other, "how was your day?"

If you're having trouble finding happiness in your relationship, remember this – everyone has struggles, even happy couples.  The difference is that happy couples are committed to working through the challenges.  They cheer for their partners when the rest of the world is busy finding faults.  They give more than they take.  They communicate.  They celebrate.  They never give up on their partner.

Here's the big question for you today – "What is one thing you can do right now to make your relationship better?"  Be specific.  You don't have to share your answer with the world.  Share it with the one you love.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

World Cup Fever in the Midwest

Bambi was in my backyard this morning.  He was staring at me from the soccer fields next door.  If he could talk, here's what's on his mind:

"Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Do you know what day it is?  Do you know what day it is?"

"It's World Cup Soccer Day.  Spain is out.  The US is still in.  Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike.  Wake up!  Turn on the TV.  My friends and I want to watch today's matches.  What are you doing sleeping?  I've been waiting all morning for you to get up.  Yesterday when you went to work you left the blinds closed.  Please don't make that mistake again today.  Got it?  TV on.  Make sure it's on ESPN.  Blinds open.  And don't mow the grass.  We'll munch on it while we're watching Italy vs Costa Rica, Switzerland vs. France and Honduras vs. Ecuador.  Okay, Mike?"

Have a great day.  I hope you reach all your goooooooooals.  And if you call in sick today, tell your boss you have World Cup Fever.  It's highly contagious.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sharing Some Lessons From My High School Classmates

Some of the best lessons I learned in life are from my high school classmates.  This is only a partial list.  I would like to thank them for being in my life.

  • Irene -  Never stop dreaming about places and people you want to visit.
  • Cindy - Shoot straight and be kind to animals.
  • LMG - Don't let the trolls win.
  • Brie - Keep your eyes on God, especially when you're going through challenging transitions.
  • Jim H - You can beat the odds, even cancer.
  • Phi - Honor your parents.
  • Amy - Don't be afraid to reach out for prayers when you're ill.
  • Jackson - Follow in your Father's footsteps.
  • Joanie - Teach.
  • Jeff G. - Don't settle.  Do work.
  • Chris E - Run.
  • Michael H - The best investment you can make is in your children.
  • Karen H - Don't settle.  Love comes to those who are patient.
  • Nancy S, Scott G and several others from the class of '78 who passed away - Life is short.  Make every day count.
I would like to give an honorable mention to "Snora" Ehlers, my Spanish teacher.  The other day I thought about a song we learned in her class, Eres tú. I played it for my wife during one of our date nights and shared why the song means so much to me.  It reminds me that each person I'm connected to is special.   Yes, I learned a great deal from my high school teachers, especially Snora.  Every day I get the opportunity to practice my Spanish.  And every day I get the opportunity to apply lessons learned from my peers.  Thank you to the SHS class of '78.  For those who spent time with me in Snora's class, here is a link to the Eres tú video...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What To Do When Broken Things Can't Be Fixed

We all have them – Broken things in our lives that can't be fixed.  Like most men, I immediately look for ways to fix all things broken.  This doesn't help the person who's looking for a shoulder to cry on.  A little wisdom goes a long way in situations like this.  Check this out:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

I have a feeling this prayer will take a lifetime to master.  It's worth the investment to nurture serenity, courage and wisdom.   Apply this prayer to the broken things in your life that can't be fixed.  Let me know if it helps.  I will do my best to keep my mouth shut and listen.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rest in Peace, Tony Gwynn, Thanks for the Memories

Long before the San Diego Padres moved the team to Petco Park, located in downtown San Diego at 19 Tony Gwynn Drive, baseball fans spent twenty years cheering for Tony Gwynn and his teammates at the Q.  If you heard the voice of the Padres yelling "Oh doctor!" or "You can hang a star on that baby!"  most likely Jerry Coleman was gazing with admiration at Mr. San Diego himself in right field.  Our first-born son recited Tony Gwynn's name shortly after he learned to say momma and dadda.  Before his second birthday he could recite the names of most of Tony's teammates from the 1992 season including Trevor Hoffman, Benito Santiago, Fred McGriff and Gary Sheffield.

I talked with my oldest son last night about Tony's passing.  He said, "Dad, my two greatest heroes growing up in California were Tony Gwynn and Junior Seau.  I can't believe both of them are gone."

Jim Miller, a physical therapist who resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, is perhaps the biggest fan of baseball I know.  Our ritual for twenty-two consecutive years when he vacationed in Padreland was "July with Jim."  This always included at least one day or night at the ball park watching our beloved teams battle it out.  Jim always clapped for Tony even though he donned a Diamondback jersey.  Jim sent me a text message letting me know Kevin Towers, former GM for the Padres who now oversees the Diamondbacks, paid a special tribute to Tony Gwynn at the ball game in Arizona last evening.

Tony Gwynn is gone now.  So is Jerry Coleman.  But their memories will live on in our hearts forever.  I picture both of them looking down at 19 Tony Gwynn Drive today from their box seats in Heaven.  And if you look up to the night sky after an amazing play, you may see Jerry Coleman dangling a star from above.  Oh doctor, you can hang a star on that baby!  Good-bye, Tony.  Thanks for all the memories.  The world will never forget you nor will we forget the voice of the Padres sitting next to you.  Rest in peace.

Monday, June 16, 2014

When 1+1+1=1

A missionary from India visited our congregation yesterday.  He offered one of the best explanations of the Trinity I ever heard.  He started by asking how others know what's going on inside your head – what you're thinking, what you're feeling.  It's a mystery, right?  As long as you don't reveal yourself to others, it's impossible for anyone to understand what's on the inside.  Our Father in Heaven sent his only Son in order to reveal himself to us.  And the Son sent us the Holy Spirit to help us get a tiny glimpse of the mystery of who God is.  When you add it all up, 1+1+1=1.  They are three persons but they all add up to one.

Think about what God wants to reveal to you right now.  He wants you to know how great his love is for you.  You will never be able to grasp how much infinite love measures or weighs.  It's a mystery.  But that's how much God loves you.  He sent his only Son to die for you so that you may have new life.  You don't need to solve the mystery of who God is, all you need to do is open your heart and let Him in.  Only He can fill the void inside you.  Try the new math.  Go with Trinity.  You don't need to solve the mystery.  It's even more complicated than the female brain.  Just know that when 1+1+1=1, you have everything you need to live in simple abundance.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the dad's out there. For those who are missing their dad's today, I wanted to share something about my dad.  Perhaps the best lesson he taught me is about how to handle the football when the game is on the line and it's 4th down and a yard to go.  He did it with dignity, bravery and a sense of humor.  I'm somewhere in the middle of the field of dreams and all three of our adult children are enjoying their first quarter.  Wherever you find yourself today, play the game well.  Keep advancing.  Don't stress when you fumble.  Don't complain about your injuries.  Forgive always.  And know that your Father in Heaven is with you always.  Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Special Memory of Flag Day

A dozen years ago we laid our father to rest at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego County.  It was flag day.  The winds were gusty and the sun was shining brilliantly as hundreds of flags flapped in uniform formation.  We placed dad's custom urn, hand-crafted by my brother-in-law, in his new permanent home overlooking the ocean and said a closing prayer.  Then it happened – the winds kicked in to high gear and propelled the main cemetery flag from it's usual half-mast position all the way to the top of the flag pole.  I call it a "God-incidence."  The timing appeared super-natural.  It was an exclamation point added at the end of an extraordinary day celebrating our dad's life.

My brother-in-law erected a flag pole in the front yard of his Ramona home where dad spent his final thirty-five days.  Dad's military flag from his funeral flies there on special occasions, like Flag Day.  I will always remember the great men and women who gave their lives so that our flag may fly today and I will never forget the sacrifices both my parents made to raise a family of six children. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Double Dose of Superstition Today

It's Friday the 13th today and there's a full moon tonight.  This won't happen again until August 13, 2049.  And the last time we celebrated a full moon on Friday the 13th was October 13, 2000.  I wonder how many people will crawl under the covers today to avoid bad luck.  Or how many people will buy a lottery ticket because they're feeling extra lucky today.  As for me, I don't rely on the alignment of the planets or any other superstitious beliefs.  I leave my unread fortune cookies at the dinner table and I refrain from horoscopes.  That doesn't mean I lack belief in the supernatural.  I do.  I believe Jesus has a plan.  He is with us every day, whether the moon is waxing, waning or shining in its full brilliance in the night sky.

Our days our numbered.  Each day has its own unlimited potential.  Seize it.  Savor it.  Live it.  And don't worry if you step on a crack – your mama's back will be just fine.  Have a happy Friday the 13th.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Why I Love Sunrises

The sun doesn't remember what happened yesterday.  It reminds me I don't have to remember it either.  Yesterday, no matter how many trials, disappointments or challenges, is over.  I love sunrises because they shine a bright light on a new tapestry.  It's blank, waiting for me to paint a new picture.  The period of darkness is over.  It's time to get up and go to work.  I'm going to paint an amazing picture today.  How about you?  Do you love sunrises?  What kind of picture are you going to paint today?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

12 Steps to Defeat Your Debt Monster

Have you ever played the Whack a Gopher arcade game?  It's similar to the debt reduction game.  You smack one gopher with your paddle and then another one pops up somewhere else.  I remember trying to rid my California home of gophers.  I tried flooding the holes with water.  The gophers living there told there buddies, "Come live with us, we have an indoor swimming pool."  Then I tried smoke bombs.  The fix was only temporary.  The gophers kept coming back – just like my debt challenges.  I finally realized if I really wanted to be free of gophers, I needed to take a drastic step.  I moved away.  No more gophers.  Now I'm whacking away at my debts, this time using 12 steps to wipe out my debt monster for good.  Here's what I'm doing:
  1. Close the borders.  I built a solid perimeter fence around me and I refuse to allow any new credit cards in.
  2. Make a list of every debt you owe and arrange the list in ascending order with the smallest debt first.
  3. Determine how many steps you need to climb in order to become debt free.  Each step is a specific debt.
  4. Go after the gophers, one at a time.  Take out the smallest one first.  Save the biggest and the baddest for last.
  5. Set up a savings account for emergencies.  Don't use it unless absolutely necessary.  Do everything in your power to reach $1,000. Go for $1,500.  Then, keep saving monthly until you have six months in reserve for big challenges like an accident or job loss.
  6. Don't freak out if you slip on the stairs.  Just get back on your feet and start climbing.
  7. Pay cash for everything.  Before a new month begins, decide how much cash you are going to pay for entertainment and put it in an envelope.  If there's no money in the envelope, don't go out.
  8. Shop at thrift stores and garage sales.
  9. Sell or donate anything you don't need.
  10. Each time you pay off a debt, use that money you were paying to add to the next debt on your stairs.
  11. Open up an investment account for your retirement.  Don't touch these funds until you retire.
  12. Once your final debt is paid in full, share your success with your friends and family.  Teach them how to defeat their monster.
Other gophers may see your indoor swimming pool and be tempted to move in with you.  You have to be firm about border control unless you want a house full of gophers doing the backstroke in your pool you spent so many years paying off while they lived the high life on credit cards.  It's better to teach them how to build their own pool.  Just follow the 12 steps.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Maximize Your Life Through Minimalism

I shared the link you see below with my wife this morning.  It's a story about an Oregon family who built an incredible home for about $22,000 ($33,000 if you count the appliances).  "The only thing missing for us is a basement," she replied after she saw the pictures, reminding me we need shelter from possible tornadoes here in the Midwest.  I watched the video at the end of the story and noticed something special about this family.  They figured out a way to get rid of their debt and maximize their lives through minimalism. 

I admit that minimalist living is not something that just happens overnight.  It takes time to downsize.  I'm still working on this and have a long way to go.  It sure has its appeal.  Click here for the link to see pictures of an amazing home and take a video tour.  Do you think you could ever downsize your life to this level?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Monday, June 9, 2014

How to Increase Your Odds of a Successful Outcome

Can you see it?  That's the first step.  Every race you enter, every endeavor you embark upon and every goal you set has a finish line.  If you can't see it, it's impossible to achieve it.  The race is lost before the starting gun fires.  I believe successful outcomes are directly related to three things – visualization, attitude and a willingness to persevere when obstacles appear.  This doesn't guarantee a successful outcome every time but it does increase your odds.

Think of your life as a ball player.  The game has a fixed number of innings.  Your batting opportunities are limited.  When you make your first plate appearance, can you see yourself getting a hit?  Do you believe you are capable of hitting a home run?  Will you adjust your swing if you strike out?  Will you quit or keep playing?

Keep in mind that life will try to defeat you every time you step up to the plate.  Each time you adjust your swing, life is throwing a new pitch at you.  Expect a strong relief pitcher to be brought in late in the game when everything is on the line.  This is the time when you have to be your best.  Do you believe you are the one who can hand the closing pitcher a blown save?  That's all you have to do – see it, believe it and do it.  Make it a habit.  And remember this – winning is a habit, so is losing.  You have everything you need to increase your odds of a successful outcome.  See it, believe it and do it.  Then repeat it.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

What Happens When You Stick Your Head in the Sand?

Something bad happened.  Maybe your first reaction is to stick your head in the sand and hope your problems disappear.  Guess what?  They don't.  The world can still see you.  You look silly.  And you become a fixed target for everyone else to attack you.  Don't stick your head in the sand.  You will suffocate.  It's no fun getting sand in your eyes.

I can't even count all the times in my life when my first thought was to bury my head and hide when I found myself in trouble.  I learned something about playing defense.  It helps when your eyes are wide open and you can see your opponent.  Most bullies don't expect to be counter-attacked.  Surprise them.  Show them what your made of.  And when you're done, leave me a comment about how it worked for you.  Are you ready to pull your head out of the sand?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Write a Letter to the Future You

Have you ever wondered what the future you will look like?  Your actions today contribute greatly to that picture of yourself in the future.  I'm sharing a letter I'm writing to myself to be opened ten years from today and I challenge you to do the same.  Here goes...

Dear Future Self,

I thought about you this morning, June 7th, 2014, and I penned this letter for your review ten years into the future.  I'm thinking about what the world around you looks like on this day, the day after the 80th anniversary of D-Day.  Most of the survivors of that war are on the other side now and the invasion is but a distant memory.  I'm imagining the world you're living in is plagued with many of the same challenges I observe today and that's why I decided to write you this letter.  I want you to be in the best position to handle whatever curve balls life is throwing at you.  Here's my action plan for you:
  • I promise to work on all my relationships.  Friends are a blessing.  I will do my best to keep in touch and support them when they need my help so that you won't ever be lonely.
  • I promise to take care of my body by making healthy food choices and committing to regular exercise so you will find yourself in good shape.
  • I promise to manage my finances properly so you will have a better retirement. 
  • I promise to work daily on my character without worrying about my reputation so you will inherit a person with strong values.  
  • I promise to walk daily in my faith and stay close to Jesus so you will have a sound navigation system in your life.  My hope for you is that Jesus is still your best friend.  If for some reason you drifted, I urge you to go back in time and remember how often Jesus was there when you were in crisis mode.
  • I promise to hold my wife in the palm of my hand every day and love her with every breath.  You will be getting ready to celebrate thirty-five years of marriage by the time you read this letter.  If your heart still skips a beat every time you look at her then I know you are as blessed today as I have been throughout all my years at her side.  We both know in our hearts she is the best gift we ever received.
  • I promise to stay close to our children, all of them leaving the nest as of this writing.  I promise to encourage them on their journey and to be there when they need me.  If you find yourself with grandchildren as you read this letter, make sure you tell them how I dreamed of getting to know them as well as our children's future spouses.
One last thing, future self.  I hope your heart is filled with much gratitude as you reflect on your life.  I hope you're living your life with passion and you are still sharing daily stories of faith, hope, love and inspiration with the world.  If I did my job right, you're celebrating over 5,000 days of consecutive blog writing and you won't stop until your heart stops beating.  ¡Vaya con Dios!


Friday, June 6, 2014

Finding the Right Balance

The seesaw is no fun when one side is so heavy that you can't move.  Has this ever happened to you in your personal life?  Maybe your workload is weighing you down.  Or you're not devoting enough time to your physical fitness and you have the couch potato blues.  My biggest challenge has been my debt load.  There he is – a 300 pound gorilla, staring at me from the other side of the seesaw.  He doesn't know the credit cards he's been consuming for years are all chopped up.  My gorilla is on a restricted diet.  I look forward to the days when I have financial balance in my life.

Time management is another area of my life I'm refining.  I have two tools to help me stay balanced with my time – the timer on my cell phone and my chronograph on my Timex triathlon watch.  My daily tasks have time targets assigned to help me get everything accomplished on my to do list.  Once the beeper goes off, time's up and I move on.  This is especially helpful for fun tasks I could spend all day on if there were no limits.  The timer on my cell phone is used to give me down time in the middle of the day when I can close my eyes for fifteen or twenty minutes without any fear of drifting off for too long.  A little siesta allows me to recharge and finish my tasks without feeling fatigued.

Take a look at how you're spending your time.  Manage your day by adding or subtracting to each area of your life.  You can have more fun on the seesaw when you find the right balance for all activities.  Let me know how you're doing.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Truth About Designer Labels

Many of the clothes in my closet are labeled with the house brand.  I enjoy quality products without the expensive labels.  The sad truth is that many of us judge others by the labels we wear.  This goes beyond clothing.  How many times have you been asked what label you wear in religion or politics?  Beware.  Your answers can get you in hot water.

Jesus addressed the label issue 2,000 years ago.  He said, "My Father's house has many rooms," ~ excerpt from John 14:2.  I like to think of Jesus as the doorman.  He welcomes people of all denominations into his Father's house.  No one gets in unless they enter through the front door.  Jesus really doesn't care what label they're wearing.  Neither do I.  I refuse to judge people by the clothes they wear.

All beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Make sure you see the person underneath the label they're wearing.  My greatest hope is that when you look beyond my label you see Jesus.  He's not a Republican, Democrat or Independent.  He was mocked for the religious label we was born into and decided to open up the brand to anyone who wants to follow him.  Here's a little secret about Jesus many denominations overlook – he knows where the best grapes grow.  If you ask him about his favorite wine, he'll tell you, "try the house brand."

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Number One Beneficiary of Forgiveness

Some family feuds last so long both sides forget why they're still fighting.  They believe they own the rights to forgiveness.  They will decide if they're going to forgive, if ever.  They don't understand they are the number one beneficiary of forgiveness.  True healing cannot begin until you say, "I forgive you." 

Imagine your house was burned in a fire or was struck by a tornado or hurricane.  The insurance company is ready to hand you a check so you can rebuild.  All you have to do is sign the release form.  You won't sign.  Your pain and suffering is too large compared to the offer.  The longer you hold out, the longer you have to put your new life on hold.  That's what forgiveness is – a chance for you to rebuild your spiritual house.  It's a chance to let go of all that has been damaged so you can start over.  The fire is long gone.  The tornado or hurricane that wiped you out doesn't care if you hold a grudge against.  It disappeared in the wind.  The only one suffering is you.  Are you ready to move on?  All you have to do is say, "I forgive you."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why You Should Pray Without Ceasing

Pray without ceasing ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Prayers are like gas in your tank.  When you're running on fumes, you're in danger of being stranded on the side of the road.  Keep your reservoir full.  And here's something to consider when you look at the gas gauge – is your tank half empty or half full?  The answer probably depends on your fuel additive.  It's labeled gratitude.  A little bit goes a long way.  It helps you focus on what you have in your life, not what you lack.  It helps you get more miles per gallon.

One of the best lessons I've learned about prayer is how it calms you in periods of stress.  Jesus prayed often.  He asked his friends to pray for him during his greatest trials.  His friends usually fell asleep at the wheel.  I'm doing my best to respond to all prayer requests from friends and family members.  These requests seem to be escalating lately.  Now more than ever, I feel we need to be praying without ceasing.

If you have a prayer request, please email me and let me know what I can specifically pray for.  And in case you didn't know, you're already on my prayer list.  I thank God every day for all the people I come in contact with and for the opportunity to serve them.  Thank you for connecting with me today.

Monday, June 2, 2014

You Have the Power to Decide How Great Today Will Be

If you ask two people at the beginning of the day about the kind of day they're going to have and one says, "terrific," while the other says, "horrible," they're both right.  Days aren't measured by what you accomplish, they're measured by your own attitude.

I believe all our days are connected.  Each new day is a continuation of all the prior days.  Whatever happens today will be terrific.  It may be a day filled with trials that teach us how to be better in future days.  It may also be a day we get the opportunity to get to know the people around us better or make new friends.  Those who say they're going to have a horrible day are closing doors.  They're locking themselves out of opportunity.  Their day will end as predicted.  So will mine.  I have the power to decide how great today will be.  It works every time.  How about you?  What kind of day do you think you're going to have today?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Are You Nurturing Your Gifts?

There's a reason I have a happy face every day – I've been entrusted with four gifts.  The first one appeared out of nowhere when I wasn't even looking.  She showed up in a petite package with a cute smile and a set of alluring eyes that captivated me.  She was Heaven-sent.  Nearly twenty-five years ago we became husband and wife.  The next three gifts arrived two years apart.  I knew my role was one of temporary custodian.  These precious children never really belonged to me.  Our job as parents was to nurture them and help them grow into adulthood.  While I get to hold on to the first gift, it's time to let go of the other three.  The last one graduated high school and soon he will share his future plans with the world.

What does one do when the nest empties?  I will focus on nurturing the gifts I was born with.  I promised my Creator I would develop my writing talent on a daily basis.  It started with love letters to my wife.  They are locked up in a box and someday they will be passed on to our children.  Our children can read them, burn them or share them as they see fit.  I believe the love letters will help them understand what it's like to be a parent.  I wouldn't trade that job for anything.  And I believe the letters will help our children understand that love really conquers all.

Take a look around you.  Those people in your life are your gifts.  Your parents, your children, your siblings, your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, your cousins, your close friends – each is a gift.  Nurture those relationships.  Keep in touch.  Let them know how special they are.  And don't overlook the inner gifts you have been given.  Like your friends and family, they need attention.  Everyone benefits when you nurture your gifts, even the ones you only have temporary custody of.