Pushing Yourself

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Lots of things in life require quite a bit of work.  Staying fit, managing your money well, providing for your family, fulfilling dreams, making it through college, getting up every morning and heading to work. All these things can drain us and sometimes bring us to our knees.

But there is a reward. I frequently go through different weight lifting techniques and exercises to change up what’s happening to my muscles.  This usually is painful.  I am in the midst of a 12 week program right now that just incorporates different workouts with different weight amounts each week. My arms are aching today.

But in a good way, Because I know that with that pain I will see results.  I know that the amount I lifted today was far more than just two weeks ago.  It sucks on one hand.  There are a lot of days I get home from work and the gym is the last place I want to go, but I do it.  It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

If you have a dream, a passion, and want to get somewhere, keep working at it. You might not get there in a week, a month, a year, or even five, but keep working towards it.  It will pay off.

 

Are Kids Your Life?

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There are a lot of different viewpoints out there on the best way to raise your children.  All you have to do is bring up the question, “what do you think is best for your kids” amongst a room full of parents and you will soon have some very red faced angry parents as they duke it out for who is right.  In reality, there isn’t some secret all in one formula for raising your kids.  It’s just a matter of your viewpoint on what role kids have, and what your role as a parent is.

The bible talks about children being “arrows in one’s quiver”.  Arrows were used to fight, they were also used to hunt, they were tools in a sense.  Arrows when they are kept in a quiver aren’t of much use.  Arrows are to be shot out.

While I still have a lot to learn in the world of parenting.  Every day I am more and more convinced that the greatest gift I can impart to my daughter is teaching her the importance of life around her, and that there is a great big world that is hers for the taking.

I don’t think it’s any kind of coincidence that children pick up the quickest off watching their parents.  They see what we do and they mimic it.  This makes me all the more want to live a crazy adventurous, bold, courageous life.  Because I want my daughter to live that way.  I want her to know that the value of experiencing cultures outside her own to better understand other people far outweighs the value of a toy at a toy store.

I want her to know that she can do anything because she sees her mom and dad doing things that people call nuts, or over-board.  I want her to see that anything is attainable regardless of what people say.

I want her to see her dad honoring her mother.  I want her to understand that daddy takes mommy out on special trips sometimes alone to strengthen not only his marriage, but to strengthen his family.

Children are meant to come alongside and be a part of an adventure, be a part of their parents life until they are ready to make a way on their own.

But often kids are placed as the center of attention and as the center of life. Everything that one does is based around them.  This I believe not only breaks down the family as a unit, but it places unhealthy expectations on the kids.  They are looked to as a source of life, when they should be getting that from parents, (no wonder kids are growing up with no sense of direction or purpose), and further once the kids are grown and gone, the parents find themselves with no purpose.

In the last 25 years, couples who divorce after 50 has jumped from 8% to 25%.  Surprising?  Not really?  Not when parents stop having a relationship and make their kids their life.  They don’t have anything in common anymore once their kids are gone, because they’ve spent the last 20 years or so neglecting building a life and future, and strengthening their family unit, and their marriage.

My wife and I get asked all the time how or why we do so much when we have a child.  It’s not because we love her any less.  We do the things we are doing to make a better life for us and for our children, and for others.

As a father and husband, I want nothing more than to know that my family is cared for, safe, and has all the things they want and need.  But I also have to remember, that I am responsible for not just the care of my family, but for the care of orphans, widows, and others who don’t have a father looking out for them.  That’s the Biblical call, and that’s what I want my daughter to grow up knowing.

As long as I am on this earth I will care, worry, and provide for my daughter in anyway I can, but I cannot make her my one and only life, out of respect for her, and respect for my wife. I can bring her alongside of life, and show her a whole big world outside her own.

 

 

Why Church Isn’t About God

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So maybe dying is quite the right word, but lacking is.  Church attendance is down, giving is down, and so is real practical help coming from the church.

The “church” has failed miserably.  Failed at doing what it’s supposed to do.  It has failed to be the hands and feet of Christ, failed to be the family of those in need, and instead become just another business,  With it’s business plans, media entertainment, and building extravaganzas.

Somehow we’ve completely lost sight that man screws up church.  It’s nothing new.  When Jesus was here the church was a big marketplace, being used to sell merchandise.  Now instead of goats and doves, it’s self help books, audio recordings, and t-shirts with cheesy sayings on them.

What do we actually gain or give from going to church?  We go for the social club with our starbucks in one hand, our high heels pit pattering as we enter, scanning the crowd for the girl or boy we like and are hoping to make out with on Friday night.  Let’s be honest, church is not really about God.

The movement of believers in Bible times in Acts didn’t even go to “church” they met together had dinner with one another, prayed with one another, gave to whoever had need, if John Doe was having trouble paying rent that week, everyone pitched in to help.  If Jane Doe’s husband died, they came together and met her and her family’s needs.  It was real life, everyday living growing and learning together.

Now I’m not saying there aren’t some genuine good people both in the pulpits and the pews.  There are. There are some amazing people I know from churches, both in leadership and in the attendees.

But the whole dog and pony show that the church has become with its lights and media, and attractions, does not have anything to do with God.

Demands

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Demands, we all have them.  Demands from our family, our work, our church, our social groups, our peers, our teachers, our professors.  Almost everywhere we look there is something that requires our attention.

So how do we balance all this?  One word, “no”.  It’s an incredibly simple word, in fact it’s one of the first words we learn to say as we grow up, but somehow we lose our ability to say it.

We grow wary of telling someone no for fear of disappointing them, or looking like we can’t handle what they are asking of us, so we over commit ourselves and find that we have no time for the things we want to do.

While some demands you can’t say no to, (unless you want to go without food or a roof above your head), there are plenty of demands that you can and should say no to.

Time is the most valuable thing and it’s something we can never get back.  Think about that the next time someone asks you do to something, is it a distraction, a time eater that will keep you from pursuing your goals?  If so, the answer is no.

Don’t Look Back

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In 1511 a vastly outnumbered force landed in what is now known as Mexico.  The region was known to be rich in gold and jewels and also under the control of the immensely advanced Aztecs.

But Cortes, the leader of this force that contained a mere 600 men, had a different strategy in mind that the others.  To give his men no option except victory or death.

He did this by setting their boats on fire.

He knew something that we fail to grasp.  When we are faced with a decisions we always come up with a back up plan.  “I’ll try this, but if it doesn’t work, I’ll go back to this”. And so we never get very far.

So what would happen if we approached our goals and dreams with an unwavering determination, knowing that if we failed we would be doomed?  Knowing there was no backup plan, no second option.  It was succeed or die.

We need to take this approach, view our life goals like this.  Burn the boats, and don’t look back.

Kids Are Not An Excuse

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I recently came across an article on Huffington Post which in a nutshell said how dating and time with your spouse was never the same after having kids.  While there is nothing wrong with doing lots of things with your children, there are times when you need to do things without them, but let me explain.

I love my daughter with all my heart, she is my pride and joy, and love getting to spend time with her.  Because I love her so much, I realize it is very important to make time for my wife and I to spend alone, date nights, one on one, without our daughter.  A getaway now and then by ourselves is also so important.

You see as parents it’s our job to teach our kids how to have good character, good morals, and a healthy outlook on life. If I don’t model a good relationship in my marriage, that is like teaching her that bad moral values are okay.

I want my daughter to grow up knowing that her parents care enough about each other to value each other, and to spend time together.  I want to teach her that mommy and daddy need alone time sometimes so that we can be a stronger family, with firm relationships.  I want her to know that our wedding anniversary is a special event that should be held dear.

As a teenager I want her to secretly be glad that she knows her mom and dad love each other enough to still go on dates, even if it may gross her out a little, someday she will look back on that and smile.

By making time for my marriage, I am helping to build a picture of what she should look for in a man.  If she never sees me “dating” her mother, how will she know what healthy dating looks like?  How will she know the balance of having her own marriage and her own children someday if she doesn’t learn it from me and her mother.

My faith is very important to me, and nothing can replace prayer or alone time with God. In the same way nothing can replace alone time with my wife.  That doesn’t mean all other aspects aren’t good.  They are.  But so is alone time.  Kids should not be an excuse to never date your spouse anymore, if anything they should be an excuse to continue it all the more.

 

Change

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I was talking to a friend this morning and we were discussing how difficult and disliked change is.  We are creatures of habit, some of us more than others. I personally like all my ducks in a row and normally hate change, at least change I can’t control.  That’s why my decision to join the military has been such a huge event for me.

It’s a huge change for me and my family.  Not only is it change, but it’s change I can’t fully control.

But that being said it is so good, because it is stretching me in ways I need to be stretched. We all need to be stretched.  We all need to get outside of our comfort zones. This can look different to everyone.  Something that may not be a big change to one person, may be a huge change to another.

As difficult as it is, try to embrace change, try to do new things that require change, it will better round you, and make you much more diverse,  not only that but it will open your eyes to so many new possibilities.

I Was Wrong

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“I was wrong”, that’s something I know I hate saying, and I would imagine a lot of people have trouble saying that.  It admits we messed up, it admits we aren’t perfect, and it admits we have struggles to work through.

Furthermore when we tell someone that, it gives them power over us, that they were in the right.

But it is far better when we just admit we were wrong, apologize and move on, striving to be better next time.  By doing this first we save ourselves from being defensive, from saying things in anger that we don’t mean, and from fighting with someone we care about.

“I was wrong”, three simple words that we should get more comfortable saying.  It doesn’t mean we are weak, it doesn’t mean we are inferior, it means we can admit that we have faults, and areas in our lives that need improvement.

Don’t be afraid to say when you are wrong.

The Blame Game

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It seems we are swarmed with blame everywhere we look. Everything is always someones fault.  The newest it the Ebola case.  I heard someone talking on the radio and the whole show was devoted to talking about whose fault it was that it’s in America.

I couldn’t help but think “what a complete waste”.  Whether it’s political, whether it’s religious, pop culture, whatever, there is so much blame.  Everyone wants to find a fall person, someone to hold responsibility, to play the scapegoat.

The truth is, if half of the energy and time that we devote to blaming was placed on finding solutions to problems, the world’s problems would be solved.

It doesn’t do any good to try to figure out whose fault something is.  The biggest thing that will help people is admitting there is a problem, and coming up with a solution, regardless of whose fault it was.

This applies in our own lives as well, among our friends, our family, our relatives. In reality it doesn’t matter whose fault something was.  Move on and make life better.

Stop Waiting For Perfect

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There’s a really big hold up to living our lives to the fullest.  In truth I only know because it kept me from getting out and living my life for far too long.  The thing is I held back for so long because I didn’t know what that one perfect thing I wanted to do was, that one thing that would bring me life.

And then I realized something, if I kept waiting around for that one thing, years would go by and I would never do anything.  That made something finally click with me, and I realized there is no perfect thing.  The only way we find out what we have a passion for and what we want to do is by trying new things.

Yes it’s scary as crap, but just do it, stop saying should I and just take some chances. Even if they don’t turn out to be that one thing you want to do, you will have experienced some life, and you will be that much closer to finding what you do want to do.