Life getting you down? Here are things to look at.

img_0564Here is an encouragement to you if you are in one of life’s storms or currently battling depression. Here are some things you can “look at.”

Look at your watch. This will be your reminder that trials are temporary. Sometimes, you even have a say-so in how long the trial will last. Storms don’t last forever. All storms end at some point.

Look at the bigger picture. It is way too easy to keep your head caught up in the crisis or trouble. Take a step back and choose too look at your storm with a bigger perspective. Make a decision to thoughtfully respond instead of reacting out of emotion.

Look around for others. You are not alone. You were never meant to do life alone. As much as you would could claim that your situation is unique, most likely a family member or a friend has gone through something like your situation and can provide a listening ear or encouragement.

Look up. The first opportunity that you have, go outside. View the expanse of the sky. Feel the breeze on your face, Listen for signs of life even if it’s a car driving by. Your sigh can be one of relief instead of despair. We all wish there was a magic wand to wave over and evaporate every challenge in life. There isn’t, but there’s good news.

The Scriptures say that there is a God who sees you and knows you by name. If you have never done this before, lift your hands towards Heaven and open up your hands and ask God to take the heaviness that you are under. If you have never asked God to help you, then ask. If your challenges have a name or names, like names of kids, say their names verbally. God knows them.

Allow yourself the chance to be surprised. The result may not be an instant miracle. However, when you are the one who changes in the midst of the storm, then the victory will last way after the storm is done.

Embracing The “Bad” Words

This year is all about embracing the bad words. You know like “self-discipline” and “consistency” and “follow-through.” Yeah, those are all bad words to me. Yet, I am embracing them and not letting go until they become part of me.

What is it for you? Exercise? Eating? Money? Relationships? Work? It’s probably all of those things for me… and them some.

I’m starting with my private devotional time with God. I figured if God gives me 24 hours in a day, I can give Him 24 minutes of my undivided attention. More on that later. I figured that I need to get this part right before anything else.

If you have been following my blog I apologize for the long layoff. I’m back and planning to be “consistently” posting at least twice a week. Stay tuned!

Making Time That Matters With Those Who Matter Most

What matters most to you? I’m guessing that you are about to tell me to change the wording to, “WHO matters most to you.” The things that matter most to us are not things. It’s people. It’s the people we love. It’s the people who love us. My Top 3 goes like this: God, family, then friends. Even though my priorities are set for life, everything and everyone under the Top 3 challenge the Top 3 for position.

These challengers may not necessarily be bad things. Work isn’t a bad thing. You have to work. If the people you love depend on you to provide for them, then work is a necessary thing. At least I have to. Hobbies aren’t necessarily and usually aren’t bad. Many hobbies are refreshing and fulfilling. Relationships and even business ideas are birthed out of our recreational activities.

Even noble endeavors can try to find ways to displace your Top 3. I’ve been attending the same local church for over 25 years. I discovered that volunteering is an investment into not only other people, but expresses a faith-life that journeys in something that is much larger than me as an individual.  Still, this endeavor shouldn’t take over my Top 3. It shouldn’t take over yours.

How do you protect your Top 3? I don’t subscribe in the idea of a fixed “balanced life.” There are seasons when we all juggle a little or a lot more than the usual.  Also, life is full of unexpected turns and detours. Even with all of the surprises, how do you manage to spend time and attention to the relationships that matter?

I believe that one of the things you must do is to make time. Even if that means to put times down on a calendar (that you commit to) then that it is what you must do. I’ve been guilty of telling my friends, “Yeah, let’s catch that game soon.” SOON can end up being weeks, month, and even years. I can tell my kids that we will catch a movie when “things aren’t so crazy.” If I don’t set a date, then it isn’t going to happen.

If you can make your appointments with a God you cannot see, how faithful will you be to be consistent with spending time with your loved ones who you can see. That Day Runner thing wasn’t working for me years ago. Thank God, my calendar fits in my pocket. Even my years-old phone allows me to make an appointment by talking to it. I have no excuses. I can make excuses, but they aren’t valid; not with those who matter most.

What does your calendar look like over this week? What does it look like today? Are you making time that matters most with those who matter the most to you? Chime in. Be heard.

The Life Equation

A couple of years ago, I injured my shoulder surfing and was not able to surf for several weeks. I continued going to the beach and took photos instead while my body healed. I remembered watching the local high school surf team this day as they shouted, laughed, and scored really great waves during a winter swell. What stood out the most was watching some students stylin’ on cheap foam boards that are sold at the local Costco.

I heard a preacher on the radio say that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. I have heard this saying recycled and re-quoted many times in different forms like, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” but is it not true? Anything “awesome” or “epic” usually depends on how you participated in it. The kids who surfed with the foam boards were carving out waves as good as the other kids who had boards that cost 10 times more.

Times have changed and now people reject sound wisdom and will react with, “What if I don’t like lemonade?” and “Why am I getting lemonade when those people get Arnold Palmer’s?”  The victim card is way overplayed nowadays. It is time to put that card down and take that 10% of crap that has been thrown your way and turn it into fertilizer for the 90%. Grow something. Change something. Overcoming obstacles in life is not easy nor comfortable. Stop wasting energy on leveling the playing field and just play. If all you have is that cheap foam board, then use it and make it awesome. The 90% is yours.

Balance? What Balance?

Do you know how many articles, blogs, books, videos, sermons exist on the internet just by searching the words, “balancing life?” I don’t know the number, but the list seems endless. I’m sure it seems that way because a lot of people feel like their lives are not in balance. I won’t claim to have mastered any kind of balance in my life. I believe it is one of the constant tensions in life that will always exist. (By the way, I believe tension is necessary in life, and it’s not always a bad thing.) We can pour massive amounts of time and energy into organizing our lives in a disciplined manner, and there comes along an event that can upend that balance.

Instead of getting hung up on the concept of what “balance” looks like, simplify it by prioritizing the people that are most important to you. I say “people” because people should be at the top of your list. It should be the people that you LOVE who should be at the top of your list. If I LOVE God, then He should be the top priority of my time and attention. If I LOVE my wife, then she should get a whole lot of my time and attention. If I LOVE my kids, then they should get a whole lot of my time and attention. If I LOVE my relatives…. If I LOVE my friends…. This list can extend far, but that’s where priorities help.

You should also make time to do the things that you LOVE. Those are the interests that you enjoy doing. That could be a simple as reading books. It can be extensive like collecting rare objects. Pursuing these interests take the edge off the roughness of life and fills the soul tank. However, the things that you love shouldn’t take away the time and attention that belongs to the people you LOVE.

There’s a 4-letter word that gets in the way of the endeavors we love, and that’s W-O-R-K. If you have a job or career that you don’t love, then shift your perspective to encourage yourself. Your work gives you the opportunities to do the things that you love.

One more thought. Be generous with your time and resources to help others. Volunteer at your church or the hospital. Be a coach on your child’s soccer team. You get the idea. Investing your time and resources to help others is not just a noble thing. It makes your soul rich.

Balance can’t be all the aspects of your life weighing the same amount to keep the scales level. Some aspects are more important than others. Some aspects weigh more than others. Some aspects should.

What are those priorities in your life? Chime in! Your comments are welcomed and hope you are enjoying a productive week!

Christmas Lights the way


We hang them with hope
To illuminate these nights
Christmas lights the way

How do Christmas lights not bring out the child-like wonder in you? And a smile that reveals someone lost in the memory of Christmases past. Inspiring you to keep traditions passed down from your parents. Motivated to start new traditions. This Christmas, challenge yourself to go beyond yourself and share that light. Be an example for your children. You can volunteer at the local food bank or the children’s hospital. We can have real hope because Jesus, the Light of the world chose to reach out to us.

Yoda’s Thoughts on Christmas

img_3293“You must unlearn what you have learned.” ~Yoda

Wise words from Pop Yoda. Just like most things, we are heavily influenced by media and the pressure is on to make all the Christmas the best one ever for your family. You have to ask yourself a couple of questions to keep a clear head and a clean heart about this holiday. If getting all the decorations and presents are going to put me in debt, then is it worth it? If all this running around is going to temporarily make me a maniac, then is it worth all the trouble? If this is what you learned to accept to be acceptable, then it’s a good time to start unlearning what you learned.

Blue vs. Red

img_0613
Blue vs. Red
Diametrically opposed
We want it our way
Even if it comes to blows

I’m on the right side of history
So it’s my way or the highway
Not only will I school you
But I’ll also make you pay

Wait a minute!
Is this what we have become?
Sworn enemies for life
Wishing death to some?

Who don’t agree with us
Nor sing the same tune?
We easily call them foes
And insult them as buffoons?

Isn’t unity better
To agree to disagree?
Listening to one another
Knowing it’s not all about me?

If you take some steps back
You’ll see that it was really a trap
To allow the ones on top
To take the best and leave us with the crap

To fight over and ruin
What we worked hard to build
To destroy close bonds
We allowed hatred to kill

Peace at all costs
That should be the goal
Building up one another
And valuing the soul

Optimism to a fault
If no one will follow
Yet the alternative is bleak
And our world will be left hallow

This world we can fix
Our words must change course
And choose life over death
Leaving our world better; not worse.

I am disappointed as member of our adult generation. We refuse to see beyond the rhetoric (is it even rhetoric anymore?) as our children watch and learn as we hurl insults at each other and end relationships based on political views. That’s not what we taught them. Actually, that is what we are teaching them right now; that it’s ok to hide our prejudices behind self-righteousness, and it’s ok to harm people and property when our world is not aligned like we think it should be. Our younger generation deserves better. Don’t you agree?

Aging Well

John proudly has his birthday on his chest when he surfs, 2-2-30. He’s aging with style. I am considerably younger, but am I aging well? I want to. Do you? Are you? I’m sure there’s more, but there are questions to ask because I want to enjoy my family as long as I can. I know you do too.

Question #1. How long can I go eating like crap? Recently, I chose not to anymore. When the doctor said I have to go on medication indefinitely I realized changes have to be made. I believe his analogy was something like, “You wouldn’t put soda in the fuel tank of your car because it wouldn’t run right.” I got the picture.

Question #2. How do I play? That play should lean more on doing something instead of sitting and being entertained. I remember the last time my wife and I binge-watched a TV drama on Netflix. It was a great series, but I got seriously tired for weeks. Apparently, the folks back before cars were tempted to stay sedentary as well. Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying, “Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.”

Question #3. Who am I sharing life with? The person missing in this picture was John’s son. John was 80-something surfing with his 60-something son! Life was not meant to surf alone. Make time with family and friends as much as possible. I read somewhere that pets help too.

Living with purpose changes everything. We weren’t put on this earth to just take up space. Why live that way? We all have a calling to do something for the Creator who knows us personally and I’m 100% sure it will benefit this world. Discovering what that something is make sense of all the do’s and do not’s and turns them into what you want to get out of life. It makes the “good” food taste better. It makes the hard work not feel so hard. It makes playing a lot more fun. It makes our relationships with our family and friends sweeter.

That’s the short list. Thanks for reading it. Do you have anything to add to it?

Advice for Hearts

A word to the young,
Yours can be fooled
Usually when you’re foolish
Reckless and never ruled.

A word to those who are gray,
Before you lay to rest
Stop pining for yesterdays
And make today your best.

A word for the lonely,
Don’t be offended by my tone
Sharing your journey is a choice
So is staying alone.

A word to the lost,
Open your eyes
And commit to find your way
Instead of living on lies.

A word to those who are filled,
Help us sift the truth from the tales
Warn us about chasing after empty dreams
And remind us that love never fails.