Friday, October 31, 2014

You Can Hang a Star on Those Two

These are two of my favorite friends, Elliott and Patti Fox, from Southern California.  Elliott was my honorary tennis captain for two championship tennis teams I played on.  We also teamed up together for numerous socials and events, like the first Ramona author talk I hosted for local writers in my community.

Elliott was the guest of honor at last weekend's tennis social.  "You were in a lot of the pictures, Mike," Elliott recounted during our phone conversation yesterday.  I know you were with us in spirit."

I asked Elliott to introduce me when I launched my first book at the author talk.  His wife sat in the audience, proudly listening to her husband speaking from the podium.  The couple have a rare twinkle in their eyes that never fades as the years pass.

I could hear the excitement in Elliott's voice when I told him our youngest son is joining the army.  "I'd go back in there right now if they'd let me," the ex-master sergeant who served in WWII said.  "Don't worry," I said.  "My son will follow in your footsteps."

Every morning when Elliott and Patti wake up, they celebrate life.  They are my heroes.  Yes, you can hang a star on those two.  Even though I'm far away now, I will always hold these two close in my heart.  The world is a better place because of people like the Foxes.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Million Thanks

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  One million thanks I give you today.  My dream of reaching one million pageviews on my personal blog just became a reality.  When I shared this news with my wife this morning she started humming a tune she couldn't get out of her head.  The song summarizes what this blog is all about – putting one foot in front of the other.  Here's how I made it to a million...

I want to share a secret with you.  You may be that one in a million I pray for.  Sure, the one million clicks is flattering.  But there's something more important.  It's about connecting.  It's about making a difference in your life.  That's what I'm most thankful for today.  It's you.  You're the one I care about.  Consider me as your rodeo clown who distracts the bull long enough for you to get back on your feet after a big fall. 
I've fallen more times than a bowling pin.  Every time I'm down I yell, "reset."  Life really is about putting one foot in front of the other.  It's about never giving up.  It's about dreaming big.  It's about counting your blessings every morning when you wake up.  Thank you. Thank you.  Thank you.  A million thanks I give you.  Yes, you're one in a million.  God bless you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Three Interesting People I Met in Iowa Yesterday: a Writer, a Pig Farmer and a Son of a Bartender

I never really know who I'm going to meet when I begin each day.  My day job working in the membership department as a marketer gives me much flexibility.  My employer prefers we keep a low profile and stay away from television cameras.  I keep my opinions about religion and politics to myself while I'm on the clock.  In fact, most people I work with don't even know I'm a writer.  Here's a recap of three new people I met yesterday...

A writer named Megan.  She contributes to Better Home and Gardens.  I shared my disappointment about not getting my dream job at the local University when I migrated to Iowa from California two- and-a-half years ago.  The search committee eliminated me during the screening process.  I was devastated.  God had other plans for my talents.  I know in my heart I'm where I'm supposed to be.  Megan encouraged me to keep writing and wished me good luck with my first novel.

A pig farmer named Joni.  I left my day job early to surprise my wife.  I noticed a larger bus blocking traffic in the town square when I stopped to pick up my mail at the post office.  An over-sized photo plastered on the side of the bus caught my eye and I wandered over to see what was going on.  "Is Joni here?" I asked the officer directing traffic.  He nodded his head yes and pointed to the Java Lounge.  I walked inside.  News cameras were everywhere.  A young man named Marco was firing up the crowd.  He introduced the pig farmer and the place erupted.  Joni is in a heated battle for a U.S. senate seat.  Her first political message got my attention, "I'm a farmer who castrated pigs.  I'll make 'em squeal in Washington."

When Joni was finished speaking, I walked up to her and gave her a hug.  "My youngest son starts boot camp in the army in January," I told her.

"Infantry?" she asked.

"Yes," I replied.


"Fort Benning."

Joni knew the place well.  She served in the army and she spoke passionately to the crowd about the need to support our service men and women both during and after their service to our country.

"I'm counting on you to watch over my son," I told her.

Joni told me to say thanks to my son for his service and promised she would fight for him and all the others who defend our country.

A son of a bartender.  Last but not least, I shook hands with the man who introduced Joni Ernst to the people in my neighborhood, Marco Rubio, the junior senator from Florida who is considering a run for president.  I told Marco about my son and thanked him for keeping our military strong.  He told me the only way to defeat the enemy is through superior strength and promised he would never turn his back on our military.  The one thing Marco and I have in common besides our military views is we are both sons of bartenders.  We also have our differences – he played football in college and I played tennis.

Have a great day.  And don't forget to vote on Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Motion Sickness Solutions For Your Dizzy Goals

 Have you ever lost track of your goals?  It's like reading in a car.  Your eyes are looking down at the pages in your book and your brain gets mixed signals.  Motion sickness is a sign something is out of alignment.  I took a one day cruise to Mexico with my wife and everything was fine until I went inside.  The water got choppy and the boat bounced up and down like an irregular heart beat on a monitor.  My wife yelled, "quick, look out the window.  Concentrate on the horizon."  It worked.

How many times during your day or week to you get so busy with distractions that you lose sight of your goals?  Does this make you dizzy?  Do you feel sick to your stomach?  Look out the window.  Your goals are on the horizon.  Fix your eyes on them and keep your focus.  Your brain will process what you see and help you navigate through rough waters.  If you can't find your goals you're life will remain out of focus.  Make sure you write them down before you raise your sails so you won't get lost at sea.  Never take your eyes off the horizon and you won't ever have to worry about motion sickness.  Happy sailing.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Optimism and Pessimism are Self-fulfilling Prophecies

Your thoughts lead to actions.  And what you see ahead often determines which direction you will choose.  One person sees the glass half empty; the other sees it half full.  One person sees a life filled with opportunity; the other sees danger lurking in the shadows.  I have a feeling most pessimists look at my life and wonder why I even bother to keep trying.  One voice in my head says, "it's okay.  You can get through this."  The other voice says, "your bank account is half-empty, your goals are half-empty and your life is half-empty.  It's time to give up."  Both voices are self-fulling prophecies.  I understand that the voice I choose to pay attention to is the one that will lead me to my destination.  Which voice will you listen to today?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Close Encounters of the Jesus Kind

Jesus likes to keep things simple.  His message is summarized in two Bible verses:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:30-31.

The message is so simple that sometimes we forget the meaning.  We forget who are neighbors are.  The first time I saw Bruce Marchiano was in The Encounter, a movie our family rented on Netflix.  I reached out to Bruce and he granted me an interview for my blog readers.  Click here for the rest of the story.  Bruce is producing another movie, Alison's Choice, written and produced as an act of love for the least of our neighbors, the unborn.  I consider Bruce's ministry a close encounter of the Jesus kind.  He is reaching out for help with donations.  Please support Bruce and help him change the world.  Thank you.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Why Winter is My Favorite Writing Climate

The number one question I get asked by Iowans when they find out I'm from California is, "Do you miss the weather?"  Vivid pictures of January beach trips flash in my mind.  I'm thankful for all the years I spent on the West Coast and I will always treasure the friends I made.  The truth is I'm where I belong.  The seasons are good for me, especially the Winter.  Why?  The Winter months provide the perfect climate for writing.  There are no distractions.  I have serious work to do.  My writing calendar for November and December is full.  I'm finishing my second book and starting a third.  Both will be officially released in 2015.

My basement has a warm fireplace and comfortable seating.  The windows provide superb views of the sun glistening in the snow-covered trees.  It's a site to behold.  And the trees are my reminder that when they sprout leaves it will be time to publish The Caveman in the Mirror on March 17, 2015.  Break the Chains of Debt Bondage will be released on Independence Day, one hundred and ten days later.  Thank you, Mother Nature, for supplying me with everything I need to maximize my writing time. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Serenity Prayer

This prayer helps me to find serenity at all times with all people in all circumstances.  Think of it as your car key.  You may have to try it more than once on challenging days but you can't get to your destination without first putting the key in the ignition switch.  Turn the key as often as your situation requires.  Have a great day.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Breaking the Denomination Barrier

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams ~ Act 2:17

I don't wear designer labels.  God's people were never meant to be divided and conquered.  That's what I see every time I drive through a new town.  It's like the Hatfields and the McCoys all over again, generation after generation.  One side worships on one side of the street and another on the other side.  My calling extends beyond the people who gather in brick and mortar buildings every Sunday to worship.  The One I follow says he will leave the other ninety-nine to find the one who is lost.  If Jesus had been around during World War II, he would have been wearing a cloth badge with a star of David and the word Jude (German for Jew) inscribed on the label.

I go directly to the source for my outer wear, just like the man possessed by multiple demons who had nothing on but a birthday suit and some broken chains on his wrists when he met Jesus.  Luke describes how Jesus cast out the demons and gave the wanderer a new garment and a pair of sandals.  The man published all the good Jesus had done for him.  The meaning of the word publish has changed over the last 2,000 years and multiple "branches" or "labels" have sprung up.  The message is the same, no matter what label we wear – Go, and share the Good News.  "Preach the Gospel at all times and use words if necessary," said the man in the friar suit who eschewed his father's rich garments.

God's spirit is in all people.  Our young sons and daughters prophesy.  Our young men see visions.  And old people like me dream dreams.  My dream is for the lost to find their way home.  May Jesus give each of them a new garment to wear.  Man's labels aren't important.  We are all a reflection of the Designer's label.  Nothing can separate us from God's love.  I'm just glad he loves everyone, including the streakers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Blind Choice

My wife and I were invited to our first Iowa fund raiser last night.  We jumped at the chance to have a date night together.  The group is similar to one we supported while we resided in California.   We met a young man in the hallway and struck up a conversation.  After we checked in, we searched for our table and sat down.  Landon noticed us sitting all alone and asked if he could join us.  Landon talked about why he was at the fundraiser and wanted to know about our connection to the group.  We told him the other men from our town had a scheduling conflict and asked us to fill in at the last minute.  Our evening was another one of those "God-incidences" that keep showing up in my life. The lights dimmed and a video played on the screen.  Landon whispered, "my company made that."

The keynote speaker shared about a blind choice she made during her pregnancy.  Her doctor told Gail, "if you keep this baby, you'll go blind.  Abort it and you will keep your vision.  The choice is yours."  Gail felt all alone when her doctor disagreed with her decision and walked out on her.  Gail knew in her heart keeping the baby was the right thing to do.

The blog story I penned when I woke up at the beginning of the day flashed back into my head when I picked up a copy of Seeing Beyond, by Gail McWilliams.  Her forward was written by Zig Ziglar, the man who inspired my morning blog messageGod-incidence, I thought to myself.  Landon handed me his business card and said, "Send me a link to your blog, I want to connect."

There are no coincidences in the Kingdom.  What are the odds I would be dining with one of God's marketers who came from a publishing background similar to mine?  What are the odds I would connect with some really special people, including Bob who attends my church?  I met Bob's wife on the tennis courts.  I met Bob's cousin and business partner at my day job.  Bob's cousin once worked in Phoenix where I grew up and for the same company I work for now.  Bob is on the board of directors for Informed Choices, the company that organized last night's fundraiser.   It was a plethora of God-incidences all stemming from one blind choice I made to attend the fundraiser without knowing anything about what I was getting into.  You could say that God set me up on a blind date.  This is the beginning of a great relationship.  I will write more about this group in future stories.  Have a great day.  Thanks for joining us at our table last night, Landon. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Your Morning Attitude Determines Your Daily Altitude

Two people were talking about the kind of day they expected to have.  One said, "I'm excited about today, it's going to be a great day."  The other frowned and said, "I have a feeling today's going to be a repeat of yesterday.  It's going to another bad one."  They were both right.  History tends to repeat itself.  Past performance predicts future performance.  Those who fly high in the sky understand the attitude factor.  Here's one of my favorite ideas about preparing my morning attitude before takeoff.  It's all about gratitude – I'm thankful for every encounter I'm about to have.  The happy people are going to cheer me up.  The angry ones are going to remind me what happens when I concentrate on all things miserable and fail to see abundant opportunity in every situation.  The pessimists are going to reveal how tough it is to fly when they can't see their own wings.  And the optimists are going to challenge me to reach to new heights.  I'm ready for takeoff.  I'm planning to soar.  How about you?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Know Thy Enemy

Sun Tzu, a high ranking military general, considered war a necessary evil that must be avoided whenever possible.  His writings about the art of war influenced Asia for over 2,000 years.  He wrote, anyone who excels in defeating his enemies triumphs before his enemy's threats become real.  He believed in quick and appropriate responses to changing conditions.  I'm stealing some pages from Tzu's playbook to win the war against a modern enemy – third party debt collectors.  Approximately 30% of the western world is under siege and most raise the white flag of surrender as soon as the first shot is fired.  Not me.  My flag is like the checkered flag you see when the racers finish the course.  This can only be accomplished if you know how to fight.  It begins with knowing your enemy.

Fighting a debt collector is similar to the Kobayashi Maru, a no-win scenario in the Star Trek universe.  It appears that no matter what action you take or avoid, you either end up dead or the people you fail to rescue are destroyed.  My hero, Captain Kirk, found a way to win by reprogramming the test the day before his exam.  It appears Kirk was a student of Sun Tzu.  He knew his enemy and he acted quickly.

My debt war is not over yet.  All I can tell you is I'm 100% committed to knowing thy enemy.  When I'm finished I'll write my own book based on my personal experiences.  Sun Tzu and Captain Kirk will both be proud. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Your Inner Voice Sound Check

How often do you tune in to your inner voice?  Do you have trouble finding your beat if you skip your morning sound check?  It's the quiet time before go live with the rest of the world on center stage.  I call this silent time my inner voice sound check.  If you're having trouble with your acoustics, here are some ideas I'm using in my life that may benefit you:
  1. Change your venue.  Your inner voice requires limited distractions in order to be properly heard.  Sometimes you need to go outside and take a hike.  The less man-made noise, the better.  Find a quiet space where you can allow your inner voice to be heard.
  2. Change your routine.  You need to make time for your sound checks before you interact with the world.  Try getting up fifteen minutes early so you can listen to your inner voice.  Keep in mind that too little sleep is counter-productive.  In order to wake up early, you need to go to bed early as well.  The last thing you want to do is sleep through your sound check.
  3. Change your act.  Does the world listen to you when you're on center stage?  Do you have a worthwhile message?  If the answer to these questions is no, figure out what's not working during your morning sound check.  Perhaps you need a new act.  If you don't like the sound of your voice when you're all alone, it's time to find some new material.
  4. Be original.  The world is full of copycats.  Your inner voice is like no other.  Harmonize with it.  Don't be afraid what others think.  Your inner voice is a gift.
  5. Let your inner voice be heard.  It starts with the sound check and carries over to your live performance.  Make sure your audience can hear what's inside of you.  Your gifts are meant to be shared.
I'm still making minor adjustments in my personal life to find the right balance.  The beat of the music is better and I'm happy with the results.  Moving forward, I'm committing to more time to hearing my inner voice and less time listening to all the noisy voices in the outside world.  If you have any ideas to contribute, please share in the comments section below.  Have a great day.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Do Your Detractors Need a Muffler?

I have the perfect solution for your detractors.  It's an invisible device that works like a car muffler.  Just pretend the muffler is attached to their mouth when you see them storming in to your quiet zone.  Their words spew like a leaky exhaust but you don't hear them.  Nod your head a couple of times.  Smile.  The muffler is doing its job.  If you notice your detractors asking a question to confirm you're paying attention, here's your reply:  "It's all good."  Immediately look at your watch and raise your eyebrows.  This is your signal that your quiet space is a no parking zone for loud or obnoxious vehicles.  Have a great day.

Friday, October 17, 2014

News Flash: My Mother Entered Cyberspace

No, pigs aren't flying and Hell didn't freeze over.  The one thing I never thought would happen just happened.  My mother entered cyberspace.  She didn't dip her toe in the water or confine herself to the shallow end of the internet.  She dove in.  I about fell over when her Facebook friend request popped up on my cell phone.  She sent me an email request for a link to my blog.  And she has a computer in her home.  I'm shocked.

I remember all those years trying to convince mom to be a part of social media.  She politely refused.  "People are forgetting how to write a letter or how to communicate face-to-face," she once told me.  Mom spent her whole life working on a computer.  Her home was always an internet free zone.  Everything changed when one of my sisters sent her a computer for her birthday a couple of days ago.

I will never forget all the lessons my Mom taught me about relationships.  She may have a computer in her home but I don't think she'll ever abandon her values.  The internet is a great tool but it should never replace face-to-face contact.  I wonder what's next for Mom.  A smart phone?  Sure – when pigs fly or Hell freezes over.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Live Your Life Your Way

What's holding you back from unleashing the hidden potential buried inside you?  Is it fear of what others will think when you let your true colors shine?  Take a good look at the people around you.  How many of them want what's best for you?  Are they okay with you when you challenge yourself to grow?  Today is a good day to begin living your life your way and stop living your life their way.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Birthday Wish for My Mother

Today is a special day for my mother.  She shows me what it's like to play in the fourth quarter in the game of life.  She reminds me of my favorite football team, the San Diego Chargers.  There were many consecutive seasons when the team finished with a dismal 6-10 record.  What's similar is that year after year neither my mother nor the Chargers ever give up.  They both make half-time adjustments.  They know the game is never over until the play clock expires.  I wish I could present my mother with some kind of trophy to honor all her years of perseverance. 

Mom may not play football; she prefers cheering for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in whatever sport or endeavor they may pursue.  She encourages me to stay in the game even when the other side throws eggs on my bus.  She's a big believer in the Hail Mary.  I will never forget how she rallied our team when our quarterback returned for a brief appearance.  No huddle was necessary.  We knew the play call when she looked into our dad's eyes for the last time.  It was in that precious moment I realized none of the previous seasons mattered.  All those 6-10 years were in the past.  Mom filled the stands with fans who welcomed dad home for his last play.  Against all odds, Dad found the end zone one last time.  Years of working on the Hail Mary paid off.  All was forgiven.  And the quiet woman behind the team who never stopped believing is responsible for the outcome.  Happy birthday, Mom.  Enjoy your special day.  May all your birthday wishes come true. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Conversation with a Dead Dream

Imagine having a conversation with your dead dream in the afterlife.  It goes something like this:

Dead dream:  "Why did you refuse to resuscitate me when I died?"

You:  "The dream killers convinced me to let go of you and move on."

Dead dream:  "Why did you listen to them?"

You:  "I got tired of the way others looked at me when I talked about you.  They said you were nothing more than a fairy tale."

Dead dream:  "Don't you see how a part of you died when you let me die?"

You:  "I should have fought harder for you."

Dead dream:  "Wake up!  You're not dead!  Open your eyes and look around.  It's time for you to take a stand.  Right now!  Tell those dream killers you've been hanging around it's time to pack their bags and move out.  Just because they're selling tee shirts with the words "Do Not Resuscitate" plastered on them doesn't mean you have to go along with the crowd.  Yes, I may be a fairy tale but I'm your fairy tale.  Fight for me.  Resuscitate me.  Feed me.  Believe in me.  Don't ever let me die.  If you do, we'll meet again in the afterlife... and you'll have hell to pay."

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Solid Game Plan for the Day

 I know a lot of people who hate Mondays.  Not me.  My game plan is solid every day, including Mondays.  You can't keep a good person down who chooses to rise up and attack the day with enthusiasm.  The secret?  It's understanding the meaning of enthusiasm – it comes from two Greek words, en which means "in" and theos, which means "God."

Remember this about Jesus, He rose from the dead.  If He can do that and we are "in God," we can do anything through Him.  Seize the day.  Show the world what you've got.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Never Give Up

My apologies to the crane.  I'm that green frog in the picture who refuses to give up.  The situation may look hopeless.  It's not.  I'm a believer.  Anything is possible as long as you stay in the fight.  Get a grip.  Fight back.  And never ever give up.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Make Sure This is in Your Survival Kit

We all go through challenging times.  I come from many generations of humorists.  They are people who can laugh when the rest of the world can't stop crying.  Tell more jokes.  Laugh often.  Tickle your funny bone.  Make sure your survival kit includes a sense of humor.  Please email me your favorite joke or leave it in the comment section below.  Thanks for sharing your sense of humor.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Flying by Faith

The apostle, Paul, is one of my favorites.  He wrote thirteen books of the Bible.  He once said, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I'm in."  I call it flying by Faith.  It's knowing in your heart you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.  Imagine you're taking a test but you're not allowed to use your eyes and ears.  You're Luke Skywalker and you're on a mission, flying blind.  The voice in your head tells you, "use the force."  Do you trust the source of your voice?

Don't look at me for answers.  I'm still dealing with the test questions.  I'm learning how to fly when the gas tank is on empty.  If you promise not to tell anyone I'm going to admit one thing about the first question:  Have you learned to be content in all circumstances?  I opened my eyes and copied Paul's words from Philippians.  Yes, I'm content in all circumstances.  Question #2 two is a bit more challenging:  What is the meaning of life?  Jesus is prodding me to fly today even though no flight plan has been filed.  I'm going to read more of Paul's words for inspiration before takeoff. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

What is a Life Makeover?

A makeover is best described as a complete transformation.  While it's a term most commonly used for hairstyles, I've expanded its definition for more something much more meaningful – life.  A life makeover is a radical change from the inside out.  It's about attitude, hopes, dreams and perseverance.  It's about becoming the person you were created to be.  It's about getting rid of all the negative people in your life who put you down so they can feel better about themselves.  It's about surrounding yourself with people who believe in you.  Are you ready?

The first step to a life makeover is to get your priorities in order.  I have three:  #1 – God, #2 – Family, and #3 – Work.  There have been times when I let these priorities slip.  If these priorities aren't right, a life makeover is doomed to failure.

The second step is discipline.  You must be willing to pay the price of your life makeover every morning when you wake up.  There are no shortcuts.  You can never give up.  Stick to your priorities.  Believe in your dreams.  Don't let anything or anyone get in the way.

The third step is gratitude.  Always be thankful.  Concentrate on all the good in your life.  You have enough blessings to live an abundant life.

Thanks for visiting today.  I would love to here from you about your life makeover.  Email me or leave a comment below and I promise to respond within twenty-four hours.  Have a great day and a great life.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Happy Trails

I expanded my Iowa horizons yesterday and visited Dubuque for the first time.  Mother Nature is showing her true colors this time of year.  The photo above was shot during my lunch break.  I call it "Happy Trails."  May this photo bring you some joy and may all your adventures be happy ones.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Battle for Inner Peace

Every war has its turning point.  As for me, I'm fighting an enemy inside my own head.  The stakes are high.  The winning side gets the prize – peace.  I needed to change my strategy in order to win.  It's not about holding on and fortifying the defenses.  It's about letting go.  Have a great day.

Monday, October 6, 2014

What's in Your Inventory?

Companies assess their inventories to determine how accurate their books are.  Discrepancy's are red flags.  The same method can be applied to your personal inventory.  It's simple.  Just count everything you own and reconcile it with everything you are created to be.  If anything is missing, you know where to begin to fix the problem.  I'm not referring to material goods in your inventory.  I'm talking about your gifts, the items in your inventory that make you who are.  Are you ready to do some counting?  Here's a sample checklist:

  1. Integrity.  These are the things you do when nobody's looking.  Either you have it or you don't.
  2. Empathy.  Do you care about others?  Can you identify with their challenges?
  3. Godliness.  Do you see Jesus when you look in the mirror?  
  4. Generosity.  Do you skimp on tips?  Do you compliment others? Do you give your time to others when they come to you for help?
  5. Patience.  How to you handle traffic jams or long lines?
  6. Dependability.  Are you constantly late?  Can others count on you?
  7. Ambition.  Do you strive to be the best version of yourself on a daily basis?
  8. Forgiveness.  Are you willing to forgive others when they hurt you?
  9. Gratitude.  Are you thankful for all the gifts you have?
  10. Humbleness.  Do you feel superior to others?  Does your pride get in your way?  Or do you feel called to use your gifts to serve others without any need for a pat on the back?
This checklist is for your benefit.  If anything is missing, it's not too late to make changes.  Have a great day.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

How I Found Serenity

Cancel the missing person alert.  I found her.  Her name is Serenity.  She's not a person – she's a lifestyle.  She's all about acceptance, courage and wisdom.  If any one part is absent, there's no serenity.  Now that I found Serenity I'm going to welcome her into my life.  If you want to find her, all you have to do is ask.  Have a great day.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The World is More Colorful With Less Megapixels

My lightning bolt moment occurred in the middle of a powerful storm.  I really don't know what compelled me to say "Show me your power, Oh Lord."  He answered with a mighty surge of electricity that destroyed our big screen TV.  That was just the beginning.  The aftereffects are life-changing.  I decided not to replace the TV and I'm ready to permanently cut the chord and reduce the megapixels in our household.  Nature has it's own vivid colors.  I want to live my life intentionally with less megapixels.  I want to drive cars without loans and live in a home with no mortgage.  I have no interest in living beyond my means.  My wife and I have a new mantra:  Simple.  And yes, the world is more colorful with less megapixels.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Raising Caterpillars

Some parents desire to raise clones of themselves.  Not me.  My top parenting priority has always been to discover the uniqueness in our children and foster their individual talents.  My direct parenting days are coming to a close as our youngest prepares himself for army boot camp.  Fortunately, my wife and I acknowledged our son's calling at an early age and embraced it even though neither of us know much about the military.

Parenting is like raising caterpillars.  When your children are first born you have no idea what they are going to turn into.  They are dependent on you for everything.  At some point, usually the teenage years, they enter the cocoon stage.  It's a challenge to communicate during this stage because the progression to adulthood isn't finished.  Our youngest desperately wants to be a butterfly.  His transformation is nearly complete.  He didn't wait for boot camp to get in top shape.  He started training the day he signed the papers.  Mama butterfly hoped he would pick any job except infantry.  That's like asking a butterfly to clip his wings.  I told our son to follow his dreams.  He is.  Now he's about to leave the cocoon and fly away.  Shane came home from future soldier training last night and told us, "my sergeant said I'm a squad leader now."  It looks like the last caterpillar in our family earned his wings.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Are Your Answers Blowing in the Wind?

Some answers are elusive.  They may be staring at us in the face but we can't see them.  They may be whispering in our ears but we can't hear them.  And they may be blowing in the wind but we can't feel them.  Maybe it's because we don't know how to find answers to challenging questions such as "why am I here?"  Or, "What is my purpose?"  Here's my favorite:  How do we fit together?  The answer gets more complicated as time passes.  Think about that for a moment.  There's a reason why you and I are connected.  Sorry.  I don't have all the answers – they're blowing in the wind.  But I am doing one thing to find solutions.  I'm harnessing the wind.  I find it to be a reliable source of energy. 

I'm happy to be connected to you.  There's plenty of room in cyberspace for you to place your windmill next to mine.  Jesus says, "for where two or three gather in My name, there I am with them." ~ Matthew 18:20.  Thanks for visiting. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Turn Your Pain Into a Sacrifice

Listen closely to a person in the final stages of life.  Their words are filled with wisdom.  They don't have time for shallow conversations or mindless television.  Their questions reveal what's truly important.  I will never forget the last question my dad asked my brother and me before he became incoherent.  The doctor prescribed morphine to help comfort him in his final days.  He asked, "if I don't have my pain do offer God, what do I have left to offer?"

My brother instinctively knew what to do.  He scratched the word morphine off the label and told my dad he was giving him an analgesic.  Dad's question still burns in my mind years later.  He was determined to give God everything, even his pain.  That's what Jesus did for you and for me – He gave us everything, including His own life.

You have choices today about your pain.  Maybe you're feeling the loss of a loved one.  Or someone close to you hurt you or abandoned you.  It's possible the pain is so deep that you try to pretend it's not there, or mask it with booze, drugs or some other crutch.  Why not turn your pain into a sacrifice?  Offer it up.  Ask God to use your pain for His benefit.  Give it to Him.  Give Him everything.  Don't hold back.  And never forget the final words Jesus spoke when He turned His pain into the ultimate sacrifice, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing."