Not Your Typical Thanksgiving List

This list is not made because I think that you should have experienced these things too, but truthfully, it is for me. Yes, it is true. It is selfish but it has an unselfish purpose. I hope that you will see it before the end.

Things I am thankful for…

1. I am thankful that my parents divorced when I was 6. I have learned more about the value of marriage because of it.

 

2. I am thankful for having a single mother. She fought and struggled, won and lost, laughed and cried. She gave me more than many mothers would or could because of the obstacles. She also taught me to never give up.

 

3. I am thankful for the years I spent as a truck driver. It made the saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” mean so much more. It also meant that I was able to face many “personal demons” head on with God leading the charge.

 

4. I am thankful for not being popular at school. I learned that I am responsible for myself and cannot control whether I am liked or not, therefore I am to be who I am and look to be the best at it.

 

5. I am thankful for having surgery on both biceps and being out of work almost 2 years because of it. The hard lessons I learned about myself and my family as well as the opportunity to meet many people, was well worth it. I can look back now and see benefits whereas when it was happening, it was gut wrenching.

 

6. I am thankful that I was able to be next to my dog when he died this summer. My beautiful 14 year old “pup”, who God brought into our lives to teach us about unconditional love (among many other things), saw me and my 14 year old son as his last sight. It was a sight that made him happy as well as me and my son, bigger and better men.

 

7. I am thankful that I have had supervisors that I have not liked. These “situations” shaped me into a better person and actually changed the way I supervise situations.

 

8. I am thankful that I do not have a brand new vehicle. Because I cannot stand it when something is brand new and a mistake of mine or someone else’s scars it (I realize that this is probably a character flaw and translates to much of my life but for the sake of the list, I am thankful).

 

9. I am thankful that I have failed at a few business ventures. Because those “failures” are steps, times to learn, experiences to relate to my children and history to put on paper so that they may serve a purpose beyond my own physical reach.

 

10. I am thankful for having two very different close family members pass away within a year of each other about 4-5 years ago. It showed me the value of keeping the people you love, close to you. One died scared and alone, the other died with her husband at her side. They both were loved but they died in the situations that they prepared for themselves. Every day you live is preparation for your own day that you leave this earth.

 

11. I am thankful that God offered his own Son to be crucified. Since I am a Christian, I consider this the ultimate gift. Many cultures cannot understand this “gift” but it was made so that you can have a choice.

 

These are all gifts, believe it or not. All of the above gifts are there so that you can make a choice; the last being the most important. It is like receiving a pen and paper for a Christmas gift. It is what you make of it. You can write or draw. You may write the next great novel…or not. You may be the next Rembrandt…or not. But your life is there, waiting for you to make it happen. Be thankful and grateful for ALL things, even the things that are not pleasant…because all of them can be used to choose to make a better YOU.

 

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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.

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.

Move

“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits (the thoughts and intents of the heart). Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed.”  Proverbs 16:2-3

Building upon the thoughts of success and failure, this verse was put before me.  Sometimes in the past, I have made decisions that I was leary about moving forward with for fear of failure or embarrassment.  Most of those times, I had inadvertently left out the One who could set my path straight.  As you read this verse, you see that it is more important to keep your intentions in check.  Your methods will then be guided in agreement with His will and you will succeed.

When I see this, I think “processes”, but all of the best processes in the world will fail if the intent is not in line.  There is an exercise for managers called “The 5 Why’s”.  The intent of the exercise is to get to the root of the issue by asking the purpose.

Example:

Problem:  I was late to work today

Why?:  Because my car broke down

Why?:  Because I didn’t put oil in it

Why?:  Because I was too busy writing my blog.

Why?:  Because I am wanting to make lots of money

Why?:  Because I am dissatisfied with my job

You get the idea.  It is a cause and effect issue.  Usually, by the 5th “Why”, you have got a good source but it can be carried further.

This is a building block, a gap that every parent should teach their children to an exhaustive degree.  Your actions do not just influence you.

buildingBricks

So taking this back up to your intent and process, figure out why you are moving.  If you can get to the core, remind yourself of it every day.  Place a sign on your computer monitor.  Wallpaper on your phone, tablet or computer.  Put it on your prayer list, if you do one.  Set an event or reminder on a calendar program to send you an email every morning about it.

Stagnant:  Having no current or flow, showing no activity; dull and sluggish and often having an unpleasant smell as a consequence.

I don’t think that this describes your purpose.

Your life was not meant to gather dust.

In one word…

Move