I Hope You Dance…


I came across these beautiful lyrics today and was tenderly reminded that no matter where your life may be heading with its twists and turns there is always hope for a wonderful future. And, much of what has happened to you in the past exists now only in your memory and even that is often undistinguished and unreliable. Certain setbacks and hardships color your past experiences with unfair brushstrokes overly shaded on the difficulties. While childhood wishes and dreams were formed in the heart of a child and not within the ripened experience of an adult. So, no matter where you are today and whatever you are going through, I hope you find your life and your happiness again. I hope you dance…

“I Hope You Dance”

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty-handed

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance, I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances but they’re worth takin’
Lovin’ might be a mistake but it’s worth makin’

Don’t let some hell-bent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

Dance, I hope you dance…
                                                               ~ By Lee Ann Womack

All of us begin our lives in the same way. In front of us lies an enormous ocean of possibilities, we have only to find them and live them. Our hearts, not yet distracted by the worries and concerns of life, are unshackled and free to experience. Our focus is singular and clear, unashamed and in harmony with our highest good. We seek in earnest the things that make us happy and shun those things which do not. We believe unreservedly for the good in life unaware of the alternatives. In childhood, life is simple and full of wonder. Yet something happens to people as the years go by and what was once simple and free is no longer free nor simple. The challenges of life when combined over a lifetime can take away your zest for living and dim your gleaming shine. You can lose sight of the very essence of life and become encumbered in what might have been or what you could have done. The world is often a cruel teacher leading you to forget life’s sweetest lessons and instead instruct your failures in the hopes of their continuance. But, the wonder of life, the passion, the opportunity, the promise hasn’t gone away, it has just been obstructed from your view. What you felt once you can feel again when you become clear that life hasn’t changed, you have. I hope you dance.

Of all of the frightful things that could happen to a man or a woman, nothing is more destructive and painful as giving up on life. Living your life a shadow of your former self, banished to the sidelines, without God and without hope is the most miserable way to live. Yet, people live this way day in and day out. They have sacrificed the joy of life for a paycheck or for approval or to make someone else’s life a pleasure. They willingly cash in their hopes and dreams for someone else’s dream. They think they cannot so they do not. They become so accustomed to disappointment that they expect it and in expecting, live it. They rely on other people’s judgments and no longer trust their own. Seeing a good thing that they love, that they could do, they refuse waiting for permission. And in so doing, they cease living. Your life is your’s alone and what makes its appeal to you, to you alone it appeals. You’ve lost your energy for life because you no longer seek what energizes you, but trade it in for another’s life force. Finding your way back depends not so much on locating the path, but finding your path again. There is a way that exists only for you. To think yourself a part of the masses and conforming with those masses spells the end of you, the you, you seek to rediscover. No matter what complexities have enveloped your life, you will find yourself with simplicity in those things most appealing to you. Pursue them with vigor! I hope you dance…

Every day you have a choice in how you are going to live. To say you have no choice is never true. Life is full of new things to learn; things that take your breath away; things that bring tears to your eyes. The wonder of life cannot be over-worked or completed. There is infinitely more life to live than you have the capacity to experience. All of this God created for you. It remains there waiting for you to once again discover it. Walk away from all of your disappointments and hurts. Let go of all the fears and insecurities. Take a chance that your life is worth the living. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Your memories, be they sublime or distressing, are just memories and do not hold the power to write your future. You do. And when you choose I hope you dance!

Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance. And in doing so, I know you will dance. I hope you dance…

Just some good thoughts…

What I Know for Sure… (Birthday Blog)


As I reflect on another trip around the sun, there are, in the words of Oprah, some things I know for sure. For one, life is short. One day you are 30, then suddenly you’re 50 and before you know it, you’re 80. You live the day and the days keep on moving forward. Days turn into months, months turn into years and years become a lifetime. Early on you’re figuring out children and finances, struggling to find your place in the world. Then, your kids are grown and you are no longer so focused on your money or your place. Now you are someone’s grandpa and the grey haired manager at work. You’ve got more money and more time and you find yourself contented with less. Words like retirement start popping up and although you aren’t as old as your dad was at the same age, you have to give it some thought. Curiously, you find yourself considering your legacy; what you would want your children or other people thinking about when they remembered you. Did you ever answer the question of who you were?

With the passing of time comes wisdom. You’ve lived long enough and screwed it up often enough to finally consider your ways. Yet, you recognize all that time you spent judging yourself was wasted time. You see things for what they are and understand that life always has choices and though you chose wrong a thousand times, you can always choose right. And, it dawns on you that you also chose right a thousand times and maybe didn’t recognize it at all. Instead of measuring and evaluating yourself by your mistakes, you can put those mistakes in perspective and see how little a part they played in the grand scheme of your life. Once you finally stop judging yourself, you find you stop judging other people as well. You understand that they, like you, are also learning and developing and you are viewing them at only one place along their journey.

Instead of seeing life as a whole, you see it in all of its parts. There are good parts and bad parts, exciting parts and boring parts. There are times of rejoicing and there are times of sorrow. You succeed and you fail. You fall down and you get back up. You get your ass kicked for a time, then you kick some ass yourself. You long to live your life in perpetual comfort, but learn that much of life is uncomfortable, at least for a little while. You wish for life without challenges, but acknowledge that the challenges help you grow. You know you have an opponent in life and obstacles, but you figure out how to make sure the enemy isn’t you. Simple things become the best things. Complexity belongs to error. You can finally admit you have some weak spots and in so knowing can finally build yourself up. It also dawns on you that you have some gloriously strong parts and you can figure out how to tap into them as often as possible. Don’t discount the value of being able to make someone smile or lift them up and out of their misery. You see the power of your words and how you wield them, and thus use them to bring light and not darkness. You can appreciate the pain you have endured, not for having it, but for how it forced you to find the way out of it.

Life is full of change and nothing stays the same, except for God. No matter how low you have descended, or how far down the rabbit hole you may have ventured, He will give you the same love when you return. One thing is faithful and it is Him. He loves you when you do not love yourself. He provides help when you aren’t asking for help. He is the one great constant in life. He doesn’t change His nature. He does not do people harm. He is the polar opposite of the world’s portrayal of Him. He is not following you around pointing out your moral deficiencies. He is not judging you. You experience those things at the hands of His opponent, who is ever portraying himself as something he is not. God doesn’t make you feel bad ever. He makes you feel good. He is the goodness you have always dreamed of and He always will be. My life today would not be the life it is without Him. The times He has answered me, rescued me and picked me up out of life’s gutters, I cannot count. The insights, the inklings, the tips and clues are without number. He loved me into loving myself and did it again and again and again. One thing I know for sure is that God is only good always…

Life, this life always has the promise of good things. Pretty soon you find yourself more clear on how to access those good things. You discern your own cooperation with the madness and stop cooperating. You at last see the part you play and make better plays. Sure, you still fumble at times, but you don’t let your head stay there. You stay clear on all of your touchdowns and let the missteps go. In short, you love yourself and continue to love yourself, bulges, sore knees and all. You become adamant not to be against yourself any longer. You know God loves you and you walk out with that love. And, you get busy healing and helping and lifting and loving. You see humanity surging with pain and grief, disappointment and loss, and you get in there and offer them something different; something wonderful instead. This, my friends, is a life well lived.

I’m not done yet of course and have a lot left to learn and to do. No regrets at all… Looking forward to another trip around the sun and more time to love and to bless.

Life is good.

Just some good thoughts…

What Do You Think?


It’s interesting during these times of increased uncertainty and fear that there would also be an increase in depression. Depression by its very nature refers to the act of lowering something or pressing something down. You don’t start with despondency, you arrive there. If you have ever been depressed, you know how terrible it is robbing your life of all enthusiasm and energy. And despite where you end up, chemical imbalance acknowledged, much of what happened to you happened because of what you were thinking. What do you think?

All thoughts are not equal. Some thoughts bring life and joy and peace. While other thoughts work to shatter your entire nervous system. What you think does matter! Certain trains of thought, if persisted in, will bring about great detriment to your life. Entertaining thoughts of fear and worry work to steal away your life force. They literally suck the life right out of you. If you continue in them and do not thwart them, they will bring you down into the great valleys of life. And, once you find yourself down there, it is damn hard to find your way back! Fear thoughts make you sick. Fear thoughts fill your mind and body with anxiety. Fear thoughts are the ultimate destruction and they have no logical end point. Fear thoughts are always a lie threatening some future day. And since you cannot live in the future, they will continue to work you over until you fold! Fear thoughts are not overcome with logic and more and more understanding. While it is true that ignorance leads to fear, at the end of the day, fear thoughts must be starved out. Each day spent in fear is a day lost. What you think and what you refuse to think does matter. It matters more than almost anything you can do in this life. 

That thought would have such a powerful and lasting effect in people’s lives, yet remain so misunderstood is one of the great mysteries of life. Your life, my life, literally hinges upon the thoughts we allow and encourage and those we refuse and reject. Your thoughts are one of the few things you can control in this life. And, aside from some rather vague generalities concerning being positive, we have been largely uninstructed in this regard. It is a common belief that people live their lives while thinking along the way, rather than what people think actually forms the basis of their lives. Good thoughts, right thoughts, true thoughts bring abounding peace to their possessor. Right thought introduces energy into your existence. Proper thinking leads to warm and sunny circumstances. Good thoughts open your heart to the goodness that is in the world and allows you to see it. True thoughts bring clarity and genuine understanding, shining a bright light on all that is false and harmful. Thoughts of guilt and condemnation, while appearing noble, actually rob your life of all vigor and grace. Hateful, judgmental thoughts bring harshness and cruelty to yourself first then to all others you come into contact with. While thoughts of love and kindness serve to soften and warm, bringing healing and every good possible. All of the various and unlimited, possible outcomes are wrapped up in the thoughts you entertain most frequently. 

The time to focus on and correct your thinking is today. You are only responsible for the thoughts you think right now. What are you thinking about? What thoughts race across your mind? What thoughts seem to settle in the background like dark specters, offering all the reasons why you cannot be happy or why you cannot finally relax? We all want to be happy, but we don’t all think the thoughts that are happy. Instead we sort of let our minds run like a motorboat, then act surprised when we end up at destinations we neither chose nor encouraged. We seem to wish that life would just work out no matter what we thought. We think failure, fear failure, expect failure, then get pissed off that we failed. How could we not? If you live your life being deathly afraid of some negative variable, get ready to face that variable! God didn’t do it to you, you did it to you! You have a solemn responsibility to control your thinking. You decide what you are going to think about or at minimum what you are going to keep thinking about. When you find yourself struck by some sudden negative element in your thinking or for that matter in your life, you have a decision to make. What are you going to think about? Are you going to cooperate with evil by spending your days contemplating some awful variable or are you going to think something else? They’re your thoughts! They have always been your thoughts…

It is never too late to turn your life around. You change your trajectory by changing your thinking. You don’t have to control and manage every thought, just your next thought. You decide. If you are feeling depressed, lacking energy and vitality, chances are you have been thinking about the wrong stuff, a lot! If you feel miserable and defeated, you are not thinking soundly. Your emotions follow your thoughts and not the other way around. If you feel agitated and distressed, fearful and anxious, ask yourself what you have been feeding your mind. What are you thinking? Believe it or not, you are responsible for the things you put into your mind. Oh sure, sometimes weird stuff pops in, but you don’t have to let it stay. I’m not talking about drowning yourself in positivity, despite whatever is going on. I’m talking about stop drowning yourself in negativity. Stop encouraging those thoughts. Stop feeding them. Stop giving them space in your mind. You aren’t just being human, you are squandering your resources. Every happy person you have ever met has had the same mental challenges you are having, they just refused to let them win! What do you think? 

Just some good thoughts…

Life Moves in One Direction Only…


“Life moves in one direction only – and each day we are faced with an actual set of circumstances, not with what might have been, not with what we might have done, but with what is, and with where we are now- and from this point we must proceed; not from where we were, not from where we wish we were – but from where we are…” ~ Richard L. Evans

I came across this quote today and found myself immediately filled with inspiration regarding its great reality. Your life, my life is always an ever present ‘now.’ There is no such thing as what might have been because what might have been hasn’t happened yet. Similarly, what we might have done is equally deceptive in that we have not yet done it yet. Instead in full ownership and without excuse, with full accountability, our life is what it is today. We are where we are today and where we are is the only place from which we can move forward. We cannot move from where we were nor can we move from where we wish we were. Life only moves in one direction and it can only move forward and progress when we accept what is for what it is and resolve ourselves to change the things we need to change.

As human beings, there will always be things in our lives we know we need to change. Some things will come easy for us and fade away like fog when the sun comes out. Other things will not come out without a great and arduous struggle, sometimes demanding years to overcome. But, make no mistake, nothing can ever change for the better until we come to full terms with what is. Our flaws, our foibles, our errors call aloud for resolution and we are loathe to admit them for what they are. We excuse them, we justify them, we explain them away, secretly hoping we can someday gain a magical grasp on them and be that much better for it. But, at the end of the day, they are our problems and no matter how they gained control over us, they call aloud for remedy.

It’s not easy to admit our issues as like a disagreeable friend they have become a part of us. However unwelcome, they are a part of who we are today. But, they are not our friends and the effects of their influence over us only leads to suffering and misery. They are our great hold-back and hinderance. They stymie our joy and blessings. They lead us down paths we never sought to traverse. They are bumps in the otherwise smooth road. They are ditches and well-worn ruts sent to defeat us. And we will never master them, though master them we must, until we allow ourselves to see them for what they really are – lies… There are enjoyments and pleasures in life to bless us, but when overdone and not controlled, bring pain instead. But, you cannot control what you refuse to acknowledge. Nothing good starts as excess, but in excess becomes nothing good. What you fail to control eventually controls you. What you choose to ignore gradually gains ascendancy like a rock in your shoe ignored over many miles. The lesson required you to make a change the first time it hurt you.

There’s a great freedom in accepting your life for what it is both the good and the bad. No man is all good and no woman is all bad. We are all shades and mixtures of both with everything in-between. We may possess great strength and great weakness. We are all subject to like passions. We all feel and perceive deeply at times and other times are numb and without perception. We are both sensitive and have callouses over parts of our hearts. We have all been harmed at one time or another and we are all in need of healing. But, in order to be healed we have to once again recognize where we are hurting. We have to acknowledge what is…without judgment and self chastisement. No man goes astray on his own without first being led. No-one in their right mind would purposefully choose suffering and pain. But, we do suffer at times and need someone to deliver us. We need love, not a lecture. We need forgiveness and often first from ourselves. We need God!

In short, we need to be honest with ourselves and honest with God. Our  relationship with God is not politics whereby we seek to present all of our actions in a favorable light. Instead it is a relationship based on trust. It is a willingness for us to see ourselves right we are no matter how dirty, confused or deceived we have become. It is having the humility to admit we have gone astray and an earnest desire for God to help us get back on track. He is not here to judge us or condemn us for where we have ended up, but instead like a loving Father welcomes us back into His arms with solutions we haven’t been able to fathom before. Discipline doesn’t get the job done, love does! We need Him to love us back into loving ourselves again, not because we have only done right, but because He only does right and He is love.

You’re not going to travel very far in life before you find yourself totally screwed up over something. No matter what it is, that is not the end of the road. Be grateful it finally got clear enough for you to see it. You can’t sink so low but that underneath you aren’t the loving arms of God. Acknowledge it. Admit it! It is what it is, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Life truly moves in one direction only and the only way you can move ahead is for you to accept where you are at this very moment and move up from there. Get back up! God loves you and so do I…

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

 

The Struggle is Real…


I’m sure there have been times when you have wondered why your life is such a struggle. Perhaps you long for endless days without resistance in which you can enjoy long stretches of smooth roads where all of the obstacles have been removed for you. Maybe you don’t like conflict and look for a time when things come easy and without a fight. Possibly you’re just tired of the friction in life and long for some future day where the going will be effortless. But, sadly maybe, the struggle is real and though it is not ideal, there is something you can do about it. Until the day those promised, ideal conditions arrive, you have to learn how to fight; who you are fighting against and how to win… Welcome to the great competition of life.

It might surprise you to know that God never intended for life to be such a struggle. In man’s original state, life was gloriously simple. Everything man touched prospered and succeeded abundantly. There was no death, no sickness, no fear and no sin. But man, with his freedom of will, turned his rights and privileges over to God’s enemy. Ever since that fateful day, man had an opponent in the spiritual realm, working in conjunction with many other evil spirits, to make life as miserable for man as possible. Whether you believe it or not, this is the source of every difficulty; every defeat; every horrible thing that ever happened to you! But, this negative spiritual energy called darkness, is hidden from your five-senses awareness. The secret to his success is the secrecy of his moves. Many people laugh at the notion that there is a “devil” seeking to work them woe, dismissing it as foolishness and uninformed beliefs. Yet, they suffer by the same hand. Others refusing to accept the truth, attribute it all to God (who is light and in Him is no darkness at all). Then, in their own insanity, attempt to make “good” reasons for the tragic events that unfold in people’s lives, explaining away abuses and torture as serving some higher, unseen purpose. Both remain sorely misled and as such unable to fight back. The first step in winning in the struggle is to know who you are fighting against. You have to call a spade a spade. If whatever happened to you caused you grief, broke your heart or caused you to suffer in any capacity, it was not from God. The prospect that it came from evil may be frightening to you, but it is the reality. Every cancer, every disease, every sickness in every form came as a result of this same force, either directly or indirectly. The suffering you have endured does not mean that you are evil, but rather that evil exists and that God wants you to learn how to overcome it. God does not, as some have said, need evil in order to produce good. You don’t have to hit rock bottom to finally achieve success, no more than you have to touch the hot burner on the stove to know it is hot. Bad experiences do not have to precede good experiences. It is the truth of God’s Word that enables you to overcome and there is no other way…

Once you are very clear from whence your trouble originates, next you have to learn how to compete; how to fight back; how to win. First, you ain’t going to do it on your own. You and your own brain using your own wisdom and your own experiences ain’t going to get the job done. (Read that again) Your opponent has been using human logic against unsuspecting victims for thousands of years. Oh you think you can figure it out? The consideration of evil is the furtherance of evil. (Read that again, again) The more you consider trouble, the more trouble you will have to consider. Error is so complicated, so tricky, so well thought out that you on your own will be no match for it. It isn’t what you think or what you feel or what you know, but rather what does God say? God’s Word in its inherent and inerrant perfection is the only thing that cuts through the darkness, through the deceptions and gets right down to the heart of the matter. You win the struggles with God’s Word. God never promised this life would be without struggles, but He did promise that you can win in every situation. You aren’t big enough to do it on your own. But, with God’s help and with God’s Word you are more than big enough. Often your real problem has absolutely nothing to do with what you think your real problem is. That’s why your problem remains. In order to win you have to submit yourself to something bigger than yourself. You don’t turn yourself over as many erroneously report. Instead you submit your own stubborn five-sense reasoning to God’s Word and simply find those promises that apply and apply them. Don’t say what you feel like or what it looks like or what it seems like. Say what God’s Word says.

At the end of the day, nobody including myself, enjoys the struggle. I’d much rather not fight. But, like the kid who gets his lunch money stolen every day, at some point you gotta stand up for yourself and fight back. It is bad enough that you have to wrestle at times, but even worse if you end up succumbing and suffering every day or worse for your whole life. Life is NOT random as is common to say, but rather everything happens for a reason with many of those reasons being your spiritual opponent. Haven’t you suffered long enough? Aren’t you tired of the misery and frustration? Aren’t you sick of not knowing what the hell is going on? Well, my friends, you can know if you want to know. Oh sure you are still going to get stung at times. You are going to get knocked on your ass occasionally. But, you can get better at seeing it coming and even better at overcoming it, whatever it is. You don’t need me to tell you the struggle is real, but the victory is just as real as well once you learn how to access the answers. Yes, the struggle is real, but so is God. Get back up and fight! Fight!!!

Just some good thoughts…

 

Love… Why Don’t We Express it?


I had a great conversation with my grown son Joshua (Yoshie) this weekend. We talked about how people, especially people that are close to one another have such a hard time expressing their love, or for that matter expressing all types of good things they probably should be saying. What is about being kind and tenderhearted that causes us to take pause instead of moving forward? Why would we wait until people are sick or dying before we endeavor to communicate years of wonderful feelings we haven’t ever shared, or at least haven’t shared with any meaningful consistency? Why would your love for someone be left unspoken?

I remember some years ago adapting a Dale Carnegie principle regarding building people up, to my immediate family. I called it, “I love you because…” The object of my little experiment was to make an opportunity for our family to say things to one another we may have never said before. Basically, each of us wrote on a 3 x 5 card the family member’s name with the phrase, “I love you because…” to be filled in with some meaningful reason we loved that particular person. We chose one person to be the receiver of our words and went around the table expressing why we loved that specific family member. Then, each person expressed verbally why they loved their sister or mother etc. Once each person had shared to the family member, we moved on to the next receiver. Little did I know at the time, there would be such heartfelt emotion behind those words. Between the wine and the words there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. We didn’t just shed a teardrop here and there, but took part in some full on crying in our deeply felt love for one another. In that moment, between tears, I realized something profound. We all loved each other so much, but rarely felt permission to openly share those feelings. The love was always there and the tears weren’t sad tears at all, but we simply rarely said things like that to each other. Thank God we did it! (And for being the biggest part behind that little idea.)

So, if we feel it so strongly, why won’t we say it? Is it because it makes us feel vulnerable? Do we fear it won’t be reciprocated, ridiculed or made fun of in some fashion? All of us had a different upbringing. All of our parents had their own upbringing as well. In some homes, expressions of love flowed freely like water. In other homes those words were hard to come by. But, if those words were rare, it’s hardly fair to blame your parents. Chances are those words were scarce in their homes as well. Imagine trying to feel comfortable expressing your love for someone if hardly anyone ever expressed those words to you. It’s such a conundrum because though not expressed, we know that the love is there. So, we wait for some dire situation to force us into saying the things we haven’t said before. It’s like there is no time left to wait. But, here’s a thought. The people you love so much need to hear those words now, and later, and often in-between. You cannot really lose by saying those things. Even if the person you love makes fun of your heartfelt notion, inside in their heart, underneath all of that cover and pretend toughness, they needed to hear it from you, right when you said it! Just say it!

It’s so odd that in the world today, feelings of tenderness and kindness and love are shunned as if they represent weakness or perhaps aren’t manly or appropriate. It’s like to be a man you need to withhold your love in favor of toughness as a sort of preparation for the things your offspring (namely boys) might experience in the world. I can assure you, the best way to build someone up to face the challenges of life is with your love. You want your son to be strong? Shower him with love and acceptance. Ironically, few people have any trouble expressing their love to young children. Young children are safe recipients of our love. But, what about being a teenager or young adult negates that principle? Your 30 year old daughter needs that expression of love as much, if not more now, than when she was 5. We all need it desperately. Your brother you grew up with, who drove you absolutely nuts, needs your expressions of love. Your father who didn’t treat you right (God bless him as he was trying to figure it out also) needs your heartfelt expressions of love. Don’t wait until they deserve it, do it while they don’t deserve it. Do it now.

The only way to break the negative cycle is for you to break it. It really doesn’t matter if you receive it first. You be the first to break the cycle. Shower people with your love and kindness of heart. Have you ever ran into a truly kind person and left the better for it? You know what it did for you, right? So, you do it. Tell your wife you have being quietly residing beside for 30 years, how you feel. Tell her she is beautiful. Tell her what living with her has done for you over the years and the better person you are as a result of it. Tell her! Yes, I know she knows, but you tell her anyway! Your friend who always has your back and stands with you despite all your bullshit, tell them as well. It’s not weird or out of place. It’s weird not to tell them. You see, you and I have to be the initiators of the love. Take the first step. Don’t make it odd or difficult or risky. There is no risk in loving someone. The risk is found by not saying what you feel when you feel it. That’s the real tragedy.

Don’t love in silence even though you both know the feelings are there. Love outloud! Say it, express it, do it. I love you because…

Just some good thoughts…

 

Finding Your Missing Peace…


Life can be a topsy turvy affair. You are definitely going to experience your share of ups and downs, highs and lows, good times and bad times. Sometimes things work out for you and other times they may not. Some circumstances are going to challenge you down to the very core of your being. Chances are you will experience pressures, stress, negativity and downright agitation. But, did you know that the turbulance, the unrest, the feeling unsettled, the churning inside is all an indicator that something is not right and needs to be changed; to be remedied; to be fixed. It’s not something you must learn to accept or live with, nor is it a necessary part of being a human being. In its basic essence it is the absence of peace. You need to find your missing peace…

Children do not live with agitation in their hearts. When something is bothering them, they instinctively know they need help to get it cleared up. They don’t put up with it for very long. It’s only adults that try to acclimatize themselves to the unrest or worse find things that cover up the distress. When people are suffering inside, it’s only reasonable to seek the source of those feelings. But instead, people just sort of move on or ignore it. They wait for a new day or for some length of time to pass hoping something will change and bring their peace back. They think that peace is something you need to attain, rather than a natural state that has been tampered with and manipulated. They never consider that there is something they are doing or choosing, knowingly or unknowingly, that invites in the agitation. Wrong thinking and wrong behaviors steal away your precious peace. They promise something good, but fail to deliver on the promise. Error in all forms cannot produce good, no matter the adornment or appeal. Darkness wears many disguises, but regardless of the costume still brings in darkness. In order to find your peace, you have to learn what is wrong, what is error, what is darkness. You cannot go by what people say or the masses or the so-called experts. You’ve got to go by what God’s Word says…

There is a verse in the Bible that states, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts…” The Greek word for “rule” is brabeuó which literally means “to umpire.” It (the peace) let’s you know if you are safe or if you are out. Things you think about that cause you agitation are out! Thinking fearful, worried thoughts cause you to churn inside. The churning, the unrest, is the umpire telling you, you are out! If you continue to stay your mind on those wrong thoughts your peace will not return until you stop thinking those wrong thoughts. Some behaviors you engage in cause you to feel good about yourself. Other behaviors cause distress. Behaviors that cause distress are the wrong behaviors or you have some wrong teaching concerning those behaviors. If someone taught you years ago that dancing is a sin, then every time you dance you will feel agitation. However, the error is not in the dancing, it is in your thinking. You are believing something that is not true based on wrong teaching. The world is chock full of wrong teaching and it has been tying God’s people up for centuries. It’s hard to find someone who feels worse about themselves than the average Christian. Yet, it’s not their sin that is defeating them, it is holding on to wrong thoughts about themselves, condemning themselves, focusing on themselves, that’s killing them. You can multiply this scenario out indefinitely. Yet, for all this, you already have the solution within yourself. Does what you are thinking about cause you to be at rest or unrest? Do you have some behaviors you engage in that always leave you feeling bad? The peace inside is your umpire and that umpire never misses a call.

If you are unpeaceful as hell, you have to ask yourself what have you been feeding your mind? What are you dwelling on and focusing on and concentrating on? Where does your mind naturally go? All of that fear and worry you have been dutifully entertaining has never, ever led you to anything good. It’s not good information that helps you feel better. Has it ever helped you feel better? Does contemplating your or your loved ones demise help you to live? You see, you have to get it out of your mind that fear has any useful purpose! Fear thoughts, worry thoughts, anxious thoughts, doubtful thoughts are all error and will take away your peace faster than a speeding bullet! The key to overcoming fear is found in your refusal to consider the thoughts. Oh I know, you think you can figure it out if you just invest enough churning. But, you aint going to figure it out! Instead, you will just become a big mess inside, drinking liquor and taking pills to make it stop. Your mind is feeding on something and you are the one responsible for what you feed it. The crippling negatives of the world are everywhere and have been ever since the first man went astray. But, just because they surround you doesn’t mean you have to perpetually contemplate them. Don’t let them in…

Do you want that wonderful peace inside that assures you everything is right and nothing is in need of repair? Do you want that inner calmness that makes life sweet and beautiful and tender? Do you want to find that long lost feeling of repose and know that you are safe and protected on every front? Then, you have got to do something different with your mind. You have got to change how you have been thinking. You have got to alter what you have been feeding your heart. Life will still be full of ups and downs, but you won’t be. You will still have to face pressures and stressors and threats, but you don’t have to remain agitated by them. There will still be hard times and hard days and hard circumstances, but inside you can remain at peace because you know who ultimately has your back. I hope you find your missing peace…

Just some good thoughts…

Slow Down to the Speed of Life…


All of this social distancing and requirements to stay home have inadvertently provided us with some important clues about how we have been living our lives. Most of us are moving too damn fast. We have so many things to do, much of which are self-inflicted, too many obligations, too many commitments. We have been literally running for our lives from thing to thing, activity to activity, trying to get it all done and by all I mean everything we have read we should be doing. In between all of our “must-dos,” we fill the remaining moments with our televisions, binge watching Netflix series coupled with our incessant need to check Instagram and Facebook and whatever else pops us to use our every remaining moment. Like an addict, we have been convinced we need something else like non-stop activity to be okay. God forbid we should have nothing to do! The things we do, we don’t do properly or give our full attention. We ram and cram and make do ever trying to get to the next moment, the next fun time, the next vacation. And while we are being completely preoccupied, we have stopped thinking and dreaming and planning desireable future moments. We no longer have time to get the bottom of our issues. We don’t have time to think or so we think. Someone convinced us we have to figure everything out for ourselves and work harder and do more etc. We are driving ourselves crazy. We need to slow down and return to the speed of life.

There was a time when we didn’t have the Internet or for that matter TV (or TV consisted of 3 channels and they all went off around midnight). We didn’t know what everyone was doing at all times and it was good for us. The news we did get was very limited, reserved for the big things that threatened our happiness. Today we devour the bad news, filling our minds with it in excess under the guise we are keeping ourselves informed. How much more do you want to know about the virus?  How much more is there to know? It’s not education, it is fear being fueled and fed by more fear. It’s no wonder the world runs on anxiety. The world can appear to be a scary place, but how much more so when your mind is constantly being filled with all of the things that can get you? That’s maybe why we are so dang busy. If we take time to slow down, we might actually have to deal with it all. But, dealing with it is exactly what you need to do. You have to take time to do something with your mind about the things that are bothering you. You HAVE to deal with them. I know you would rather not. Me neither. But, like any obstacle impeding your happiness, you have to take them on and move the roadblocks from your path. They aren’t going to move themselves no matter how busy you make your life. Slow down, breathe and take the time you need to get things straight. Get things clear. Take the time. You cannot get to the next place until you learn to overcome the challenges in your current place. Slow down people and learn to live again.

Life was never designed to be this frenetic experience where you run from thing to thing, from pillar to post, hoping you end up somewhere good. Life is full of variables and things that need your attention, many of which aren’t monumental. Sometimes I think that God is more pleased that you took the time to fold your sweater than He is with all of your super accomplishments; that you took the time to organize that harassing evil called your sock drawer, over all the money you donated. Don’t you see it? Your only requirement is what the day demands of you and whatever that is, that you invest your whole heart fully into its accomplishment.   Call your mother. Clean out the closet. Write the poem. Tell someone who has been on your heart how much they mean to you. Buy someone a gift instead of the gift card. Think! Make time for yourself to think and consider. What has been eating at you lately? What, like a splinter, is under your skin? You can either get it out or wait for the infection. But, either way, it has got to come out. The unseen problem with the frenetic life is that you don’t have time to handle you! You haven’t given yourself an opportunity to get you straight. But, trust me on this one, you gotta be straight before you can get anything else straight. Murky and confused isn’t going to get the job done. Clarity and clear perception gets the job done. Slow down and get things straight.

Slowing down to the speed of life is about getting back on God’s wavelength. God is not in a hurry. God doesn’t miss anything, ever. He isn’t running you around like a squirrel, herky-jerky, flitting around, full of anxiety and care. He is calm and relaxed and sure of everything. He wants you to feel the same way. He doesn’t require that you know all the answers, but rather acknowledge that He does and in so knowing, lay it all on Him. Everything that ever bothered you, bothers Him when it isn’t resolved in your life. Like any good parent, He wants you to be happy. He already knows what has been screwing you up and exactly what you need to know and do to make it stop. But, in order for you to know, you have to give Him a little time. You have to slow down in your quest for self and trust someone outside of yourself. You need time to think. You need time to pray. God is bigger than any virus!

Stop running man. Stop dashing lady. Stop letting fear dominate and rule your existence. There’s an infinitely better way and you can find it (Him) by slowing down to the speed of life…

Just some good thoughts…

 

He Who Smelt It, Dealt it?


Forgive me for grabbing your attention with a foul metaphor (smile). While you are likely familiar with the saying, thankfully I’m going in a different direction. Many times in life we can get so caught up in what other people are doing to us, how unfair they are and how insensitive they can be to our own needs and wants. Yet, it is easy to forget about our involvement in the equations. Your life, my life, is really about being the best version of ourselves. It’s about choosing our own thoughts and actions and taking full ownership of our lives because ultimately, he who smelt it probably dealt it!

Have you ever stopped to consider that you play a key role in every relationship you have, be it foul (there it is again) or fair? The one constant in every relationship you have is you. When you find yourself confronted with the same challenges or the same unwanted judgments or the same faulty conclusions about who you are, maybe it’s not because the people you deal with are all idiots (been there), but rather because of what you are giving off. Maybe, just maybe you are sending a consistent message, accurate or not, about yourself that isn’t really true. Perhaps you have been so accustomed to playing a specific role with others that you are loathe to let it go, even if you don’t enjoy the results thereof. Many of us become familiar with a certain performance we put on for others; one they faithfully enjoy and demand, that leads people to a false understanding about who we are. The world is not always a nice place and its inhabitants not always offering us the benefit of the doubt. It’s not easy to be authentic in our interactions and in so doing we set up circumstances and conditions we do not like. The first requirement in building lasting relationships is to be an authentic person.

In a relationship, it is incredibly easy to hone in and discern the faults of others. Whether it be mild annoyances or full on agitation, it is suprisingly effortless to figure out things about other people you do not like. But, sadly perhaps, it is very difficult to recognize the things we do that others may not like. That’s not to say we should mold and shape our character to meet the demands of others, but rather that we should become humble enough to admit we’ve also got some unpleasant bits. Maybe we aren’t as funny as we think? Maybe they should know we mean no harm, but after they have told us otherwise a hundred times, we should have perhaps gotten the message by now. There are, it seems, certain people that have the capacity to drive you nuts! They have found your buttons and joy exceedingly in pressing them. But, have you ever considered that maybe before they sent you a message, you already sent them one? Sometimes your tone of voice, your facial expressions, your approach, already communicated your thoughts about them being a moron and in like manner they have rightfully perhaps decided to assault you back. Naturally you are aghast at their behavior, yet cannot conceive you began the conflict yourself. In relationships it makes sense to pride yourself in being altruistic, but often, imperceptibly, we may be the one that needs to make a change.

In marriages or lasting relationships, couples often spend a lifetime wishing their partner would only listen to what they are telling them and change, yet refuse on the grounds of principle to change themselves. Or they dutifully carry a lifetime of assumed responses based upon “knowing their significant other” without really knowing them at all. How could they know them after deciding 20 years ago exactly who they are? Bitter, long since burned out couples, could not hear a good thing from their partner if it slapped them in their face! They have already concluded and in so doing have already closed the door to change. The other person can scarce bring up a topic without their spouse already knowing where they are heading requiring them to head it off at the pass. Bad realtionships are seldom not formed by the actions of the present but rather on the thousandfold actions of the past. No couple can honestly survive such closed-mindedness! The answer isn’t found in the other person, it is found in yourself! Someone has to stop the madness and it may as well be you. So, you find yourself divorced and finally living out your dreams, yet never considered that you might be treating your “new” person in all the ways your “old” person would have loved. You gave your new person a chance…

What you should you do when you find yourself in such a dilemma? Stop assigning responsibility for the relationship to the other person because the responsibility rests with you. You change you! You be the best you, you can be. You give the love first. You decide to be sweet, loving and kind. You decide to listen and really hear the messages with your heart. You’d be surprised what can change when you change. You may find out the person whose faults you have been faithfully cataloging for years has qualities you never before imagined. You might just discover true love, not based on endless expectations, but rather on your decision to love first. You may at last recognize the love you have been searching for a lifetime is right there waiting for you and has been all along. Take ownership of yourself first and in so doing stop making it always about them. Sure they will still have faults and failings and blind spots, but criticism never ever cured them, only love can.

Whether your relationship is a marriage or dating or people you work with or your family members, the success of them all is first dependent upon you and the hidden messages you are transmitting to them. Seek to change the only thing you can change – you! Becausee two people are involved it may not always work out no matter what you do. But, at least you will have done your honest best. Remember, usually, he who smelt it probably dealt it!

Just some good thoughts…

 

Win the Moment… Win the Day!


Did you know that by the time you are full of anxiety and fear; when you feel like something is wrong and you can’t seem to get it straight; when you feel out of sorts and disconnected, confused, bamboozled, lost, defeated, chances are you have been losing the day, day after day! It happens to all of us at times. We get distracted by the world and all of the things that assault and perplex our minds. We get overly focused on our future and perpetually dragged back to our past. We have failed to live in the moment and win the moment. We have failed to win the day.

Your mind was designed to function within a 24 hour period. The great processor, your brain, was built to handle all of the demands of the day. It was never intended that you would tax your brain cells to decipher and figure out a future you could not possibly discern, nor waste its resources on a past you can neither change nor modify nor improve. Instead, you function best devoting your full attention to the moment at hand. The moment at hand is always something you can handle. Otherwise, you quickly find yourself losing track of the moments, rapidly forging ahead when you needed to slow down. It is in the moment that negative thoughts hit your awareness and it is in the moment that you must handle the challenges with which you are presented. Anxiety, for example, is simply misplaced fears that whittle and carve their way into your thinking. Once misplaced, they surface as feelings of fear that you can no longer put your finger on, much less address! Confusion and feeling lost don’t happen today, but during a hundred yesterdays you failed to recognize appropriately. Feeling out of sorts and disconnected doesn’t just fall upon you suddenly, but develops slowly, imperceptibly over time with one misconnection following another. The reason you cannot get something straight is because by the time you are experiencing the dilemma, its cause has long since hidden itself. You cannot track backwards and solve your issues. You solve your issues by winning the day.

The source of your troubles works in secret. The less you know about your opponent, the better success your opponent enjoys. Every thought stone you leave unturned turns again to rend you. Your opposition works by distraction; by overloading your awareness with worries over the future and regrets about your past. Your enemy convinces you to let things go you should not let go and instead focus on things that do not really matter. Your opposer cooks up a gigantic spaghetti bowl of confusing and distracting thoughts which when completed leaves you wading through the noodles, in vain searching for solutions you are long past obtaining. They count on your lack of attention and sneak in again and again until they render you defeated. You will never find them in the collective, but only in the singular. Alone they can be overcome, but fortified in your awareness they gain strength. The intensity of the contest demands your full awareness; your full attention. And your full attention is found only in the moment in which you find yourself. You need to win the moment.

You learn to win the day by learning to win the moment. What negativity or threat just hit your mind? What prediction of doom or future danger just took a swipe at you? What accusation about who you are; the motives you have; who you really are as a person, just took aim at your heart? When you live, as best you can, in the moment, you are much more likely to see what just happened to you. And, in seeing and hearing, there is something you can do about it. Like any good fight, you have to learn to fight back. Just as you would not tolerate (for long) someone punching you repeatedly, in the contest you have to fight back. Sure you don’t feel like it, but it doesn’t matter as long as you are getting hit. Yes, you can lament and wish it wasn’t this way, but it is this way at least as long as there is evil in the world. So you fight, in that very moment. You confront the wrong thoughts. You challenge them. You take a stand against them. In fact (or better in truth), you fight back until it they shut up. You are in a spiritual fight so you don’t try to fight with your human logic or by being rational. You fight by countering the negatives with the positives of God’s Word. Don’t try to be so smart! What does God’s Word say that counters the evil consideration? Say that! If your opponent threatens your health (i.e. Corona Virus), you counter by proclaiming God’s promise to keep you healthy or forever heal you when you need it. Somewhere in that Good Book, God says often fear not; be anxious for nothing; you are not wrong and He will make all of your paths straight. He says you are always connected; have the answers you need; have been found when you were lost; are not confused and definitely have not been defeated as He always causes you to win! It’s all in there folks and is the perfect answer to every challenge you will ever be confronted with!

Learn to slow down a little and live in the moment. Take on the obvious challenges of the moment. Deal with what is standing right in front of you. Recognize what is traveling through your mind in the moment and decide whether it can stay or it can go. Take it on in the moment! And, as you win the moment, you decide to win the next moment and the next and the next. Pretty soon, you find yourself able to win the day! Tomorrow is tomorrow and yesterday is yesterday. No matter what happened or where you may have fallen short, win the next moment. Soon, you enter the realm of the kick-ass human that God always intended for you to be.

Don’t you want to win the day? I know I do!

Just some good thoughts…