…and live

It is hard describing why I have not written for some time.  For a long time I had been getting up very early to have “my time” in the morning. Then…I burned out.  Life got the best of me and I let it.  I was not interested in the introspective thought anymore.  I felt that my inspiration was gone and I started writing here and there, just for me.  I needed to express myself in private…and some of it was not very nice.

 

I had some personal successes and failures.  I also started looking at the “why” of what we do and the methods that create habits.  Since much of this started because I realized that I was not going to live forever, a lot of it was because I felt that I had a lot to say and so little time to say it.  I felt that if I helped one person find their way, I would feel accomplished at something.

 

My dad was a perfectionist to his own demise and I have inherited a lot of that criticizing nature.  I expect excellence because I cannot provide it myself.  It is true that what irritates us the most about other people is the embodiment of our own shortfalls.  I cannot focus and I get frustrated when my child cannot focus.  I lose interest and I criticize when I see things half-way done.  I act reckless and I get mad when my child is “happy-go-lucky”.

 

Dealing with this has been difficult.  My children are slowly achieving the age of adults but not the maturity.  Neither did I.  Yet I deal with this in different ways than I did not so long ago.  I watch and am silent.  I force myself to be patient and listen for their request for help.  I take the unfounded criticism of many for things that I am not responsible for…and I live.

 

I look to help others where I can and live.  I listen and share with those in need and live.  I care and give to those who may not seem deserving and live.  I attempt to make people smile because I believe my satisfaction from it is justified and live.  I love without expecting it in return…and live.

 

I want to say to my parents and grandparents that I understand now…and I know that I still have much to learn.  I understand why you prayed so much…because God is really the only one who will listen.  There are things that only He can hear.  I understand what it means when the scripture talks about “groanings that cannot be uttered”.  Some things cannot be expressed with words or wails.

 

You were not perfect but you wanted me to be the best I could be, so you pushed.  Even when I said that you were unfair and mean, you took the blame and stood firm.  You had so many things taken away from you by me and yet you loved and lived.  Thank you for loving and living in spite of me.  I am seeking to build upon the foundation you provided…and live.

 

 

Dry

Dry times are difficult to go through.  It is where I am right now.  These times are like being depressed except you’re not.  Life’s battles have not gotten harder, it just feels like you have given all that you have and there is nothing left.  But…taking the effort that you have left over and utilizing it to its best use tends to show later on that you can do more with less energy than you think.

 

These times will test you.  You will come home grouchy and gripe at everyone, thinking that you are just acting normal until you do something that takes you outside of yourself to see how much of a pain you are being.

 

You may get up in the morning and think that talking to God is the last thing that you want to do…but…these are the times when He longs to hear from you.  “Cast your cares on Him for He cares for you.”

 

Talk to Him like He is your actual living father.  After all, He is.  He is the father that our fathers could never be because of their human frailties.  You can unload on Him.  Its ok.

 

Sometimes you have to think about people like Moses and how he talked to God.  “Lord God of Israel, your chosen people are such a pain!  And we are slaves!  And I am not a leader!  I talk with a stutter!  Why don’t you choose my brother?  He is better at this kind of stuff.  He beats everybody at checkers and cornhole.  People love him but they just look at me and wonder why I cannot be more like him.  Why me?”

 

Do you think that he may have been much of a complainer?

 

God wants to use us anyway because we are His instruments.  You have the choice to be used of Him or let someone else.  But He wants to talk to you.

 

Talk to Him…again…like He is the perfect daddy.  Because He is.

Know that this is just a short season in your life and He will give you nourishment to where your thirst will go away and your dry times will become profitable and productive, spiritually and physically.

Giving

What is your purpose of giving?

I heard once about a professional football player that while he was in college got into an argument with his professor about benevolence.  I believe that the player was Ricky Williams.  The argument was that the professor claimed that people do not give selflessly, they do so to make themselves feel good.  Mr. Williams stood his ground by saying that this was not true.  As is true in most arguments, it was never settled.

So what is your motivation for giving?  Not just money, I am talking about giving.  Is it inherent that you give to give yourself a good feeling or is it a sense of “the right thing to do”?

We give of ourselves, sometimes not knowing of the return but yet we give anyway.  Is it because we know that we will feel better about ourselves afterwards or that we have been convicted to do so and the “feeling better” is a sense of relief?

It probably differs in many cases, but what about in the case of giving where may never see the return even if it happens.  Our society is not able to see this.  They say “What does it matter?  I won’t be here anyway.  Live and let live.  Be wild, be free, it’s all about me”.  But what about your legacy?

I know, legacy, for some people is a strong word.  “Something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past”.  So really what does it matter.  It matters because our paradigm needs to shift beyond ourselves.  Truth is that you may be already seeing a return on things done previously.  The return from times of irresponsibility.  The return from days of selfishness.  The return of those “what does it matter?” days.  And even though we can look at those returns and wonder “what if I would have done that differently?”, we should look and say “what now?”

It is like a chess game.  Some people said that great chess players start a game, knowing exactly what moves they are going to make in each circumstance, knowing how their opponent will react to each of their moves.  But the beginning moves are the ones where things are volatile.  Each move that follows, corrals the opponent into their plan until finally victory is achieved.

This is how purpose works.  Direction, calling, destiny.  Each move keeps you moving in a certain direction until victory is achieved.

Giving has a purpose.  Giving of money, time, wisdom, even hugs.  They work towards the ultimate goal of a purpose.  And even though we may have a sense of necessity or a desire for fulfillment, what does that matter?

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

It matters that you give.

GoalPray part 2

Concerning the term “GoalPray”…let’s take it a step further and make it an action.  “Goalpraying”.

You make a list of hopes, prayers, goals.  This list is constantly changing.  (One of my favorite sayings is “whoever invented the eraser, had the human race pretty well sized up”.  I guess that would be the “backspace” and “delete” keys now)

 

Let’s take an example of a few entries on the list (with fictional names):

 

Under the “Others” category

Terry:  Confidence and purpose.

 

Now this is a bit vague but it is at least on there.  Let’s take the GoalPray method and flesh it out a bit.

 

Terry:  Confidence for when she is dealing with her daughter and understanding the weight of her actions.  Purpose in life so that she can feel more dedicated to her work.

 

That is better.  Does Terry have other needs in her life?  Sure, but these are what has been brought to your attention.  Why?  God is pretty good at this.  Some people would call this burdened.  To me, that word is too religious and overused.  I prefer “selected” or “purposed”.  This issue has been selected or purposed for you to focus on.

 

Under the “Thankful” heading

My job

 

Now some of you are possibly saying “Why should I be thankful for that?  It’s a hellhole!”

Understood.  Duly noted.  It’s a hellhole.  Do you feel better now?

 

This list is not to make you feel better.  It is GoalPraying.  We want to get things accomplished.  So let’s take that entry and expand it.

 

My job:  Thankful for the ability to work and the skills I have been given to work.  Thankful for the money that I make from it.  Thankful for my co-workers (no matter if you like them or not) and the experiences that I will gain by working with them.

 

There is an entry that means so much more than “My job”.

 

One more…

Under the “Myself” column

My health

 

What about it?  Let’s write it out

My health that I will have adequate strength and be able to perform the duties that I have the responsibility to do.  That I will be able to resist the fiery arrows of the enemy that come in the form of pizza and Coke to tempt me.  That I will understand that fruits and vegetables are my friends.  (Okay, enough of that)

 

Is that much better?

 

What have I done in the last few lines? Have I just written out a bunch of words to fill a page or have I cemented a purpose in my life?

 

What is it that is important to you?  Is it important enough to write it down and GoalPray on it to make it happen?

 

Phillipians 4:6 says to not worry about things but in all circumstances, in the form of prayer and definite requests, while giving thanks, make your requests known to God.

Part 3 is developing…

Edify

I have found that at times, I get a better understanding of things if I look up their definition in the dictionary and not depend on how my interpretation has caused the word to evolve into something that it is not.  When this does not give me clarity, I consider its opposite. Love/Hate. Rich/Poor.  Heaven/Hell.  Truth/Lie.  Forgiveness/Unforgiveness.  Edify/…

 

This was strange.  I looked up the word “Edify”. “Instruct or improve (someone) morally or intellectually. Educate”. The best the thesaurus could come up with is “Near Antonyms”.  Very weird. Some online dictionaries and thesauruses just left the Antonym area blank.  The closest I actually got to an actual antonym was “Learn”.

 

Did you expect that? I would have said “to tear down” or “destroy” but the truth of the matter is that you cannot make yourself or someone else dumber…and the scary part about it is that you really cannot “unlearn” something. People, will learn how to deal with life somewhere, either by being taught or formulating their own solution…this is one of the reasons why a parent’s responsibility is so important.
You can only build upon or drastically alter the learning path, but since we cannot turn back the hands of time, going backwards is not possible.

 

In case you have to seen it yet, the antonym is not negative but it is dangerous. Seeking wise counsel is preferred over formulating your own. Understand that your initial reaction to every circumstance may not be the wisest. We need direction and edification. Humility has its purpose.

 

Edify and be edified

The Precedent

This is a bit longer post than usual but rants can be that way sometimes.  It is definitely out of my usual character…no pics, just punch.  I tell this kind of stuff to my kids but really, I am telling it to myself.   I wrote this about a year ago and just found it today to post.  Comment if you wish…”like” if you needed it.

 

Setting a higher standard for yourself does not mean that you think that you are better than others.  It DOES mean that you are striving to do better than others, though.  Understand that once you set a precedent, it will be expected of you.  That is a good thing.  It is why first impressions are so important and why you should put so much value in them.

 

If 50 people text you while you are in a 2 hour class or while you are at work (yes, there are some jobs that you cannot text while on duty), are you worried that they will get mad if you do not fire a response back immediately?  It is ok to NOT get right back to them.  If you are able to text or email someone back immediately every time they summon you, you may need to search out a better purpose for breathing.  I have said it before and I will say it again, “They will still answer when you are able to conveniently get back to them”…if not, then they need a better purpose in life as well.

 

Some people may consider this a rant.  Well, I guess that it is in a way but staying with your nose buried in Facebook waiting for an interesting status update to comment on, is probably worse.  You are responsible for setting the precedent and being an example for our kids as well as their friends.  Yes, I said their friends.  While it is not a totally accurate quote, I will modify it to fit our own lesson here. “Apathy will become the norm, if people choose not to act”.  If we choose to think that others should just know better and do not take initiative to lead, they will most likely NEVER LEARN.

 

Today, we have youth teaching youth all over the nation.  Parents are overwhelmed and tired and wonder why they cannot get anything done.  They would rather spend money on things that tear their family apart than do things that bring their family together.  I admit it too.  I am guilty.  It is easier to just feed them what they crave rather than give them what they need.  One of the problems that we have as a society is that sometimes we assume that others have learned something that we already know.  It is like we think that they should have absorbed it or something.

 

Recently I visited a well known fast-food restaurant to get a couple of items to stifle my hunger until dinner since I had not eaten lunch.  The restaurant was what I call a “hit-or-miss” joint…in other words, you never know what you would get when you opened your wrapper.  I pulled up to the drive-thru speaker and was greeted by an energetic friendly voice.  I thought, “Wow! That’s nice to hear for a change”.  I pulled up to the window and was met by a smile and courteous service.  Again, I thought, “This guy is new or something” but the genuine hospitality was rather eye-opening.  I pulled out and went to a parking space to commence with the “hit-or-miss” portion of the program.  What happened next can only be summarized as astounding.  Not only was the order right, it was neat, made right, a good portion and hot.  I was dumb-founded.  Everything about my visit was exactly correct.  The food was even wrapped correctly.  I almost took a picture of it rather than eating it!

 

I did eat my order and eat it all because every bite was right and perfect.  I bet you are thinking that I am about to say that then I woke up.  Well, maybe in a way, I did.  I then went into the restaurant with my receipt and asked for the manager.  He walked out timidly and happened to be the same person who served me at the window.  I exclaimed, “David, I have come here ever since this location opened.  I have never had the superior level of service from here as I did today.  I spent less than four dollars and I feel like I was treated like I spent a million.  I will not only be back but I will tell others in the area about my visit.”  I thought he was going to cry.  He thanked me and told me that they have been working hard on changing the way they did business since competition in the area had been getting fierce.

 

Did I feel good about what I did or silly for making such a big deal over a $3.27 order?  Yes, maybe, but what was actually accomplished?  I had a wake-up call to something very enlightening that was engrained in me and I had lost.  Lost because of all the cares of this world, nation, city, workplace, family and self.  I found my need to make a difference.

 

I’m not talking about making an indelible mark in the fabric of the history of the world.  I am talking about looking out for our posterity, one act at a time.  Not a random act of kindness, but an earned move of encouragement.  How many times has someone treated you really well and you just thought it was great but did not say a word about it to them?  Really, do you think that they just read your mind and know that you were pleased from their efforts?  Do not think that it does not matter.  Turn the tables and stand in their shoes.  How would you feel if you put your total efforts into your work and the recipients told you, “I am telling others about this so that they can experience it as well”?

 

It takes an effort of selflessness and some courage but once done, you wish that others would do the same as well.  I will state this again:

 

“Apathy will become the norm, if people choose not to act”.

 

Set a precedent first so that you first may follow it.

Passion

What are you passionate about?  Is it a person, place or idea?  Is it something that you have genuine interest in or were you drawn into it?  Has it grown, morphed or totally changed as you have explored it more?

 

Sometimes finding one’s passion ends up with just a raw idea or interest that they have always been drawn to.  It is a seed that when planted, needs more than just dirt to cover it up.  Because with just dirt, that is where it will stay:  just covered up.

 

The dirt can be the most fertile dirt around but without other elements, a seed will eventually wither and become a part of its surroundings:  just more dirt to cover another seed.

seedling

As adding water causes a seed to emerge from this dirt, feeding your passion causes it to be exposed to the elements.  These elements can be harsh but the water nourishes, just as learning more about your passion feeds your soul.  But with just water, the feeding just nourishes to a point and then the seed drowns in its own nourishment.

 

The sun causes exponential growth, making the seed spring from the earth with unbridled power.  It can cause an early look of maturity and excellence.  But by itself, will eventually cause the seedling to wither away and become…just more dirt to cover another seed.

 

Find that passion

Surround it with a fertile environment

Nourish it by feeding it with knowledge

Be bold and let the world know what is inside of you

 

You were entrusted with it

Passion

Baby Steps

It has been a long time since we had a baby in the house. I can honestly say that until you actually have a baby in your house from infancy, there are some things that you may have difficulty learning. I say this because as you experience certain things, your environment and circumstances make you ripe for the learning and absorbent to wisdom. It is still your choice regarding whether or not you choose to learn.
One thing that I learned during this time happened because someone had the boldness to speak at a time when I was struggling with failure; not just one certain failure, but repeated failures.
babysteps
He said that when we are babes, are curious creatures. We try this and test that. We touch things we are not supposed to and get our hand slapped while other things are not only OK to touch, we are encouraged to do so. We depend upon adults to meet our needs, while slowly taking some independence, at different paces, strike out for independence.
When you try to take your first steps, you stumble and fall and land on your butt. Then one day, you actually maintain your balance to the point where you stand up and take that first step. You do it and take another. You grin. You try to take one more and you land flat on your face. You cry…and you never try to walk again because that failure is just too much to bear…


Now you know, that is not how the story ends.
There are certain things in life involving independence, that failure is required. Yes, required.
If you can take this bit of wisdom and run with it…
Your baby steps are important.

A Different Power

Have you ever been driving down the road, having an OK to great day, cruising at a safe speed, listening to the radio…and then, out of the corner of your eye, you get this:

Hey...Pay attention to the road!!!
Hey…Pay attention to the road!!!

What is the first thing out of your mouth? “What?!?” “Idiot!!!” “Where does he get the right to…!!” Maybe worse.
Well, congratulations! Your mind has just been controlled. You went from mellow to blood pressure issues in a few seconds and it was your choice. Yes, it was your choice to be controlled and you chose to allow your emotions to go in that direction.
Now, we can think about what you could have done. Something a little more “controlled”. Just like we talked about a couple of days ago, certain things make the “true you” come out.
Examine this power. Not the power that you gave to that guy who pulled up next to you and yelled, but the power in you. It is you who has the power here.
The power is forgiveness and the way you read about it here, may not be what you are expecting.
When exploring your own heart, digging around for nuggets, soul-searching…what are you finding? Are you finding things that make you sad, angry, beaten? Forgiveness is a power that you have…not only to forgive those who wronged you. You have the power to let go and forgive those who have inadvertently made your life take an unintended direction…and they actually did nothing against you. Maybe I need to rephrase that. You forgiving in this way is about straightening up your life, not theirs. It could have been anyone from your father to some guy on TV…It could even be God.
God needs no forgiveness from you for Himself…
but you may need to forgive Him…for you.

Back to that guy in the car (although we might need to meditate on some of the previous words for a while).
He does not need you to say “Oh, you poor soul. I forgive you”. Truth is, that guy could have been you and you probably would not be interested in forgiveness at that time. But you need the act of forgiveness coming out of you.
This is a gap that many fathers forget because they have not learned to deal with it themselves. This is a power that when wielded properly, can lay spiritual and physical enemies to waste quickly. One that empowers you.
A different power.