WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?

I heard Joyce Meyer use this story this morning from James Dobson and I really liked it!

“When my daughter Danae was a teenager, she came home one day, and she said, “Hey, Dad! There’s a great new game out. I think you’re going to enjoy it. It’s called `Monopoly’.” I just smiled.

We gathered the family together, and we set up the board. Well, it didn’t take the kids long to figure out that old dad had played this game before. I soon owned everything: all the best properties, Boardwalk, Park Place. I even had Baltic and Mediterranean. My kids were squirming and I loved every minute of it. About midnight, I foreclosed on the last property and did a little victory dance, but my family wasn’t impressed. They went to bed, and they made me put the game away. As I began putting all of my money back in the box, a very empty feeling came over me. Everything that I had accumulated was gone. The excitement over riches was just an illusion. And then it occurred to me, “Hey, this isn’t just a game of Monopoly, this is life. You sweat and strain to get ahead, but then one day, after a little chest pain or a wrong move on the freeway, the game ends. It all goes back in the box.” You leave this world just as naked as the day you came into it.

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” That’s wrong. It should say, “He who dies with the most toys dies anyway.” – James Dobson

So what are you passionate about? Are you using that passion daily? Whether it be at home, at work, at the gym, at church or wherever you use it at, are you using the talents and gifts God’s given you?

Our lives truly do go back in the box and we spend so much time trying accumulate and obtain stuff we can’t put in the box when we go anyways. Then why do it? Is it really helping us enjoy life all that much more?

Ask yourself a couple of quick questions…

1. How much do you have vs how much do you actually own?

And…

2. Is what you’re doing today helping you be debt free tomorrow?

You see, it really doesn’t matter how much growth you have or how successful life appears to be, if things are in the red. Which brings us back to the question “what are you passionate about?”

There’s an adage in our house that when we can’t change the situation, we change how we feel about it. The reality is that no matter how hard we try sometimes to change how we feel about something, the truth is without passion we’ll always end up back at the same point, pondering the inevitable quandary of “why am I here?”

I challenge you today to take a long hard look at what you’re doing daily. Is it working for your long term goals, against those goals or are you merely going through the motions from one day to the next? We all want to feel needed, useful and loved. God has given us ALL a purpose and a uniqueness to further His kingdom. Spend time finding out what your passion is, rather than laboring in vain to get stuff that’s eventually going to be sitting in a junkyard.

Isaiah 14:27

For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?

Ephesians 2:10 ESV

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The Temper Tantrum Brain

I was recently grocery shopping at the local store and had an amazing analogy presented to me. I didn’t really recognize it at first, but a dream and quick wake up a couple of days later, reminded me of it.

A mother and her child had obviously been through the toy department and the kiddo must’ve asked and didn’t receive. The reason I made this assumption, was because the child could be heard screaming, crying and yelling “I want! I want! Please mommy!” all across the store. The mother desperately trying to calm her child and maintain any sense of dignity she had left, was clearly getting frustrated.

Long story short, the child didn’t get the toy and they quickly exited through the checkout line and out the front doors of the store, with the child still throwing a tantrum the entire way.

About this time you may be asking yourself “what in the world does this child’s tantrum have anything to do with recovery or addiction?” A most excellent question and one I’ll answer.

In thinking about my own active addiction, my brain felt very much like the parent and child relationship. When I wanted to drink, the alcoholic part of my brain threw a fit and justified and rationalized everything possible, in order to get what it wanted. All the while the parent part of my brain was calmly and rationally, telling it how much it didn’t need it and all the wonderful blessings I already had.

Sometimes the alcohol dependent/child part won, because the parent side of my brain got frustrated and was like “fine, just get what you want and be quiet so peace can return.” It inevitably gave in, very much the same way a frustrated parent would to a child wanting something they didn’t need from the store.

Now you may be asking yourself again “what does this have anything to do with my recovery or addiction?” Well, it has everything to do with it. The sooner we realize that the war in our mind is taking place, the sooner we can figure out the armor we need to put on, in order to combat it. Very much the same way that parent took the child out to the car, calmed them down and made a mental or even physical note, on how to prevent it from happening again in the future.

Do you ever feel like your brain is fighting a battle similar to this situation? If you do, rest assured you are not alone. There is hope for everyone who’s brain throws a temper tantrum once in awhile and even hope for the parent side of our brain to learn how to cope and handle the fit throwings. The desired results that are being sought, may just be a little recognition and a few disciplines away.

Where’s Your Ladder Leaning?

Let’s get right to it. A new year has just begun, as well as a new decade. There’s tons of talk about resolutions, starting over and becoming a new you. How about we take a quick look see at what that could look like?

A lot of problems and resolutions could be far more worthwhile and productive, if we take the time to make sure the ladder we’re climbing, is leaning up against the right wall. Far too much time gets spent on things that are “right now” rather than what’s best in the grand scheme of things.

There’s a whole lot of experts out there that have all kinds of thoughts and opinions on this stuff. Let me make it very clear, I’m definitely no expert. I’m just a pretty boring, nearly 40 year old, husband, father and recovering alcoholic, sharing what I’ve learned along life’s journey.

The experts are good for a few things and they do have their place. Their place being the fact that they’ve done all the research and leg work for us already. Stats, figures and numbers can be a valuable asset to us. As long as we’re taking all that information and processing it through our own individual filters and designing a formula we can stick to, for more than a few weeks. It really doesn’t do us much good to lean our ladder against the wrong wall and start climbing, if the destination we wind up at, isn’t what’s best for us.

Another thing to keep in mind when designing said plan and becoming a better version of ourselves is this. What works good for one person, could be disastrous for another. Not everything is a one size fits all or plug us in and voila, we’re successful overnight.

Take the necessary time to do a little homework and obtain a little knowledge from proven methods of success. That’s what I did when I started out on this sobriety journey a little over 3 years ago. I read books and magazines, listened to a wide variety of speakers and sat down with anybody and everybody I could, that had been down the sobriety road before me. Then I took all that accumulated information and designed a plan for myself, that I knew I could stick with over a long period of time. I encourage you to do the same.

Start at the beginning and set some goals for yourself. Take the time and put in the work it takes, to get where those goals are at. One day at a time and sometimes, one step at a time. Your future is in your hands, not anybody else’s. The difference between ringing in 2021 with a bang or a bummer all lies in the ladder you climb and the wall you put it up against. Make sure you’ve got your ladder in the right place. If you don’t think it is, start drafting up a plan, to get it in the right one.

The Overwhelming Admittance

Have you ever found yourself so deep in thought, that you’re completely distracted from everything else around you? I know I certainly have. My mind gets so focused on something that everything else or anyone else’s viewpoint, tends to disappear. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

What about admitting when we’re wrong or that someone else is more talented in an area we think we’re really good at?

The overwhelming admittance is this, it’s hard to admit all of the things mentioned above. It requires being honest with ourselves, a lot of humility and coming to the realization that there’s some work ahead of us, that we really don’t want to put in. I mean who likes extra work when life’s cruising along and smooth sailing? Not me.

One of my biggest problems is finishing things. I’m a great idea starter and pretty good at coming up with a plan, but not so good when it comes to carrying it out. When it comes to others though, things tend to get really bad. The excuse train runs rampant. Sometimes it’s busyness. Sometimes it’s laziness. Sometimes it’s just not something I believe in, so I simply don’t want to do it. Ask my wife how many times she’s asked me to call for quotes on home repairs, run errands or do something around the house and I say I’ll get to it, then never do.

So how do we transition from one line of thinking to the other? Talk about a loaded question. But I don’t think it has to be though. The process of thought and life change comes down to time. Which is the most valuable resource we possess. Let’s put first things first and come to this realistic conclusion, that change and growth is going to take time and lots of it.

Look at the way nature works. First we plant, then we cultivate and finally we harvest. If we skip from plant right to harvest, without cultivating in between, there really isn’t much of a crop to collect. Then we sit there scratching our heads and wondering why our life is bankrupt. Well it’s pretty simple to figure out why it is that way. Because the necessary time wasn’t taken, the people that possessed the wisdom from having gone before us weren’t listened to and we put out more than we took in.

Life is a continual learning journey. Full of experiences, failures, adjustments and admitting we’re wrong from time to time. When you’re wrong…admit it and put the necessary work in to correct things. Stop running a wrong choice or idea into the ground and wasting everybody’s time, including your own. Most, if not all, of life’s issues can quickly be resolved by keeping an open mind and surrounding ourselves with a positive group of people. Folks who will listen to our ideas, hold us accountable and walk through life at a high level of integrity with us.

Go out into the world today with the overwhelming admittance in mind. Simply summed up, learn how to prevent from being overwhelmed and begin the process of admitting you don’t know it all. However, remember the knowledge you do have is valuable. It’s valuable when we keep that wisdom proportionate, in the right setting and take the time to plant, cultivate and harvest it. The best version of you that you can ever become, is one that learned from yesterday how to be a little better today.

Why All The Hardships?

WHY ALL THE HARDSHIPS?

Thinking about obstacles today and furthermore, the timing of those darned things. It seems to be the case in my life, that the minute things start going well, another obstacle the size of the Sears Tower, comes along to undoubtedly make life harder.

Sobriety is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Living day after day in a world that alcohol is blatantly prevalent, is not an easy task some days. Other days, it’s a sunny walk in the park. The unexpected death of my mother last year, right after Thanksgiving, brought about yet another obstacle. Each and every holiday season will now be a reminder of the fact she isn’t here. Amidst the sobriety and dealing with the emotions of my mother, there’s also the constant pain lingering in my back, that no Dr can seem to locate the source of. It really does create this feeling of insanity inside my brain that is a whole nother battle each and every day.

What battles are you facing each day? I believe we all have daily issues and struggles. Some may be blatantly obvious and others maybe not so much. Do you ever find yourself wondering what’s the point of it all? Why is this happening to me? How can a loving God allow such nastiness to happen? That answer is really quite simple, it’s because sin exists and as long as it does, the world and our lives are going to be less than perfect.

Would we even want them to be smooth sailing though? Seems to me, that if life was perfect for an extended period of time, it would be pretty boring and our minds would get complacent going through the perfect motions of it. Not only that, what need would there be for Jesus?

Obstacles are in our lives to help us grow and gain experience. Learn to be content with what’s going on, while pursuing all God has for you. Come to the realization that bad things can and are going to happen. You may be thinking to yourself that God doesn’t operate that way. I’m afraid to tell ya He does. If He didn’t, He never would’ve allowed for Jesus to be nailed to a cross, in His early 30’s, in order to save us from ourselves. He could have just as easily found a much more rainbows and fluff and “less offensive” way of doing it, don’t ya think?

You are capable of far more than you give yourself credit for. Be patient and mindful of the environments you’re in. God may bring you low at times, so at another time, He can build you back up. All things are possible with the Lord! Work on becoming the best you that you can be and in His time, those barriers will start coming down one by one.

Philippians 4:11-13

“… I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Is It Possible To Be Too Professional?

The title of this blog could lead one to believe that it’s about sales or some sort of marketing gimmick. I’m here to tell you that it is not. The point of this particular writing is to convey the importance of being a transparent human. Often times we get so caught up in putting on a good front, that we neglect to be our authentic selves.

Sales is rarely about the product being sold. It’s more about the person that’s selling it to you. When we’re too “professional” it can come across as impersonal and not relatable. Life is that way sometimes. We can get so caught up in putting on our game face(walking the walk or talking the lingo) that we lose sight of who we really are.

If you’re trying to reach people on any kind of level, the first thing to remember is that they are people. People that, outside of work, have an entire plethora of things going on affecting their every thought and decision. When we take the time to reach them on a level that is understanding of that fact, the doors we open are limitless.

Communication is vital when we think about business, life or maybe even friendship in this area. Our routines can leave us a bit robotronic at times. We get so caught up in rules, political correctness, proper manners and behaving in a way that society deems is how it should be, that we lose sight of our uniqueness. What fun would life be without quirks or flaws or an occasional joke?

Don’t get me wrong, professionalism has its time and its place. When I go somewhere to buy things, I want the customer service representative to be on point and have a good handle on their job. I also want them to be pleasant and engaging. Some of the best salespeople and cashiers I’ve ever known, are ones that know you by name, genuinely talk and interact with you and create an environment that’s more about the experience you’re having, than the sale itself. They understand that long after the money in your bank account has disappeared, the memory of how you were treated is going to remain.

Treat people with courtesy. Take the time to care. Life doesn’t need any more robot people walking around, making sure they’re always saying and doing the “right” things. What this world needs is more people wearing their heart on their sleeve and listening to the concerns of others, rather than the selfish needs of themselves. You have the opportunity each and every day to create an environment that is memorable and inviting to others. Take advantage of it! Genuinely sow the positivity into the lives of others, so that it will reap a bountiful harvest, not only for you, but them as well.

Human Imperfection

For the record, the idea that humans should be flawless and perfect, is ridiculous. Expecting people to go day in and day out without screwing up is unrealistic.

The human factor in all of us is what helps make life worth living. Have you ever looked at people? I mean really looked at them. They’re interesting. They’re unique. Each person with their own defining features, gifts, talents and genetic makeup.

When someone you love, or even you, screws up, how do you respond? Is it with grace, encouragement and understanding, or is it with “suck it up buttercup?” You see, what you don’t understand is that not everyone handles themselves exactly the way you do. Nor are they going to handle every situation exactly how the experts say they should. Stop faulting people for being a human being. Human imperfections are what helps drive us back to Jesus and keep us humble.

The longing to be loved right where we’re at, drives us all in one form or the other. How that love looks is different for each of us. Some folks are extroverted and they’re great with people and bring a little sunshine with a handshake and a smile. Introverts spend more time at home, by themselves and need a different kind of love. Maybe this world would be a lot better off if we were quick to love, rather than quick to judge.

Mistakes happen for a reason. The greatest reason is to help us learn what NOT to do in the future. If we never screwed up or made a boneheaded decision once in awhile, we’d never learn and wisdom would pretty much cease to exist. Thank the Lord for faults, flaws and character building moments. Because in those moments, God forges our sword with a mighty fire and creates a warrior.

The Learning Past

What in the free world does “The Learning Past” mean? Let’s dig in a little bit and find out.

For me, the past is a giant make up of mistakes and learning experiences. I’m talking stealing, lying, manipulating, burning bridges, conniving and about anything you can imagine. It’s not pretty by any means, some would say. What if it is though?

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10, about learning from the past, as to not repeat it in the future. One of the biggest used Bible scriptures out there is verse 13.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

Thinking about a past full of mistakes, failures and hurt, then using it as a learning curve, is one of the biggest resources we have. The phrase “God won’t ever give us more than we can handle” is a very true statement. At least not without providing a way out. That way out being Him.

He longs for us to go to Him for all we need. It’s in essence, why He created humanity. It may sound a bit narcissistic, but He’s the creator of the Universe. So I say, if the shoe fits, wear it. It’s all for His glory anyways. Who am I to argue with that?

The things we can learn from our past is unobtainable anywhere else. Its helped mold, shape and form us into the person we are today. Cursing it would be a huge mistake. Because when it comes down to it, it’s really all we’ve got. Reflect on the past, but don’t dwell on it. Reflect enough to take what you need from it and continually move forward learning from it.

You are an amazing resource of knowledge and experiences! Learn how to implement that wisdom into every day life. Make deposits and withdrawals into your life, the same way you would your bank account. Wealth isn’t measured by how much money you have sitting in your bank account. Because let’s be honest with ourselves, is there ever really enough moolah in there? The wealth in life is inside of you and only you have been given the gift of your life. Disperse all that you have to others and in all things remember, the glory is the Lord’s, not ours.

What Does Church Look Like to You?

Let me preface this with the fact that I’m no theological scholar. I don’t profess to be, nor do I pretend to be. This is simply my thoughts on church.

The Bible talks about the church in more than one place, but probably the simplest way of looking at it is in Matthew chapter 18, verse 20.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

So technically, church can be pretty much anywhere there’s a couple of folks gathering together and talking about Jesus. We often tend to think of church as a building, or a place grandma used to drag us to when we were children. Some people look at it as a place full of hypocrites, liars and always begging for money. That stuff often keeps people away from going to a Sunday morning service. It’s unfortunate, but the truth is found in a stat from church leaders.com, that only about 20% of Americans attend church regularly.

Why do you suppose that is?

Is the church driving people away? Does it come across as unattractive or unappealing? Has it lost its place or value in today’s society?

I think the answer is more of a heart issue than it is a church itself issue. Let’s look at Ephesians.

Ephesians 2:20-22

“Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

If we’re being built for a place that God dwells in and we are the only Bible that some people will ever read, shouldn’t we be more concerned with what the Creator of the universe thinks about where our heart’s at, rather than what the world tells us it is “supposed to” look like?

Church can be and for me personally, is a wonderful place of fellowship, education and a heart recharge that helps me get through the next week. The idea of the only place we can connect with Jesus or other believers, only being in a building at (insert whatever church address here) is not only a little goofy, it isn’t really biblical. Especially considering, that the majority of Christ’s ministry was done outside of, a church building.

What does church look like to you?

Is it staying home on Sunday morning, fellowshipping with your family and spending time together? Perhaps it looks a lot differently for you. It looks like dressing up, going to Sunday school, singing the songs together and listening to a preacher give his interpretation of what the Bible says.

However church looks for you and wherever your heart’s at, is ultimately between you and the Lord. When your time is done and you’re standing before Him, giving an account of your life, I don’t think what anyone else has to say or whether or not your church attendance record was perfect, is really going to matter.

If you do go to church, where’s your thoughts while you’re there? On lunch? Your to do list for afterwards? The bigger question is, where is your heart at during that time? And we’ll go even farther, where is it at the rest of the week?

Whatever church does look like to you and whatever your personal perception of it is, I hope God’s love and the peace that surpasses all understanding that’s found in Philippians 4:7, finds you. Either that or you intentionally and purposefully seek it out. Church can be a wonderful experience full of love, hope and worship. And it doesn’t necessarily, have to take place in a building and kept to, Sunday morning. Rest assured if you’re looking for an excuse not to go, you will most definitely find one.

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