Make It Count

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Every day matters. Every minute matters. I know this is a hard concept to grasp.  It is for me I know.

But every minute does matter. Now I know we have responsibilities and things we have to do. We have to provide for our families, get our education and so forth.

But our attitude and our actions can all either propel us towards making a difference or it can keep us stuck.

We have to see what difference we can make in our every day life.  How can you impact your family?  How can you impact your coworkers or your customers?  How can you impact your class-mates?

There is a way that you can make a difference in everyone’s life you come in contact with.  It may be as simple as asking questions, or maybe it consists of lending a helping hand to someone you know is in need.

Regardless of what it is, change your perspective, change your attitude and look for ways to make a difference all around you.

Those seemingly little things are not little and will lead you to making a bigger difference.

Challenge Each Other

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I have a tendency to struggle with friendships.  The reason is I don’t easily allow myself to get close to people.  It’s an issue I have that I am trying to get over. One of those things where you get hurt when you are younger and so you think the best thing is just to not care anymore.

But that’s the worst thing.  It’s taken me awhile but I am realizing the importance and value of friends.  The Bible states that iron sharpens iron, and so it should be in friendship.

Now there are definitely times when you need to cut out certain friends because they are influencing you in a way you don’t need to be influenced.

But quality friends should encourage one another, should challenge each other. Should ask the tough questions.

Even Jesus had his close 12 friends. He confided in them, challenged them, and encouraged them.

So if you are afraid like me of friendship, don’t be. Healthy friends can really help grow you as a person.

 

Love…What Is it?

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As we approach another valentines day love is in the air, or at least in the advertisements.  Whether you are a hopeless romantic or don’t believe in love, chances are you are being bombarded with the million ads and stereotypical shoulds and shouldn’ts.

But one thing we often fail to see is what love actually is.  It’s not flowers, it’s not sappy feelings, or even physical attraction.

You see, there are certain feelings and attraction that draw people together, but inevitable those things fade with time.  It’s a normal part of life that the emotional high will hit an all time low.  It happens….but that is not the end of the story.

In fact, it’s just the beginning.  Love is an interesting thing.  There is a reason on your wedding day you stand and make a covenant before God and other people. Why? You already know you love the person right?

You make that commitment because when you do hit those times that are “for worse,” and “in sickness” love is not a feeling anymore, it’s a decision, those vows help us to remember that.

There are times in your relationship you won’t feel like loving who you are with.  There will be things that you do to each other to hurt each other, unintentional as they may be, they will still hurt.

But choose to love.  Through the good, and through the bad.  Through the smooth days, and the lightning storms.  You will find that by choosing to love, even when it is really hard, you will become closer and even more in love.

Love is sacrificial, it’s not all about you. It’s not about feeling good all the time. Sometimes you will feel like crap, but still strive to love.  It’s not about you, make the other person feel like they are the only person in the world.  Regardless of whether it is easy.

Remember that no one is perfect, think of the screw ups you have done.  Offer grace.

I think one of the biggest pitfalls we get into is thinking that we would just be happy if we were with someone else.  Then we find that once we are with that person, we are back to being miserable again.  This is because the problem isn’t someone else, the problem is in ourselves.  We have a lot of selfishness and wants that in order to experience true and lasting love, we have to let go of our wants sometimes.

Love may not always be fireworks like the media and advertisements may try to fool you into thinking, but it can be more rewarding than anything you’ve ever known.

Freedom

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Freedom is something that can be hard to obtain. While there can be people or circumstances that can leave us feeling trapped or held down, we are often our own worst enemy at restricting ourselves.  We tend to hold on to past hurts until it leads to fear that keeps us from acting, or to anger which makes us just unhappy in general.

We have to realize that when it comes to being free and moving on with our lives and living to the fullest.

Something I’ve found in my own life is how much of a snare it can be to live in your past or hold onto it.  You’ve got to let it go and start living in freedom.

It’s okay to realize you are holding onto things that are keeping you from being free.  But also realize you have to let them go.  Be free.

Some Days Are Hard

 

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If you live on this earth, you have bad days.   We all do.  I know I do.  There are days when I sometimes feel blah.  I feel disappointment, frustration,and like I am so far behind in the game.

I know it will pass, I  know I will be over the issues I am dealing with tomorrow, but that still doesn’t really help today.

I guess the biggest thing I can do today is try not to focus on the things that are hard, try not to focus on the difficult things in my life.  But rather focus on what is to come, the good things to come.

It’s easy to get caught up in wishing things were different, but life is what it is sometimes, and there are some things that are just outside of our control, and as much as we wish they were different, they aren’t, so we have to make the best of it and choose joy.

If you are having a crappy day, know it will pass.

Don’t Rely On Others

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It’s a fragile balance, knowing the need for other people in your life, while not relying on them to make it through your day.  When we put all our stock in someone they will undoubtedly let us down.  It’s inevitable, we are human and we suck sometimes.

But we are also great sometimes, and relationships can push us to be better spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends, bosses, employees, and better people.

We should look for the good in our relationships the things that we both offer each other and can give one another, but we also should keep in mind the need for our strength in solitude.  It is key to know that on our own we can be strong, we can be enough.

But we can also take satisfaction that our relationships can also bring additional value and strength.

Both strength in solitude and strength from relationships is good, just be sure your strength in yourself is enough to support you, and you aren’t relying on someone else for that.

What Matters?

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What really matters today?  If you asked people you would probably get a very varied response.

It’s a legitimate question.  Our moral compass often gets way off track, and it’s easy to start spiraling out of control wondering which way is up or down.

What if our way of looking at things is completely backwards?  What if the things we think are important such as our career, job, amount of money we make, car we drive, neighborhood we live in are all secondary to far more issues.

What if the way we talk to our friends, coworkers, spouse, or children has far more weight in the importance of life.

What if the things that truly matter deal with how we’ve made an impact on the people around us.

Sure someone may comment on that new car we are driving, but when they are really going through a hard spot in their life do they trust us to come and talk to us about it?

Every now and then it’s really important (I know it is for me) to really evaluate our motives, what we are doing, and where our emphasis is placed.

What is Marriage?

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What is marriage?  I mean if someone were to ask you what it is what would you say?  I imagine most would have a different answer things like, friendship, love, sex, misery, no more fun.

I think it’s really easy to forget what marriage actually is.  God set up marriage as a vow. He set it up so that we would have to make a commitment before others.  Why is this?  Why can’t we just say I do in our living room with no one around?

Because marriage can be extremely hard and it’s vital for us to have taken a vow in front of others to remind us that we are committed to each other.

In dating we see primarily all of the good in our significant other.  Then once 2 people get married, the walls come down, and the secrets come out, the dirty laundry has to be aired, and the annoying habits come out of the closet.  For many this is scary and it causes people to run, some may think they’ve made a horrible decision or married the wrong person. But this simply isn’t true.

The same things happens with everyone.  No matter who you marry, there will be arguments, disagreements, hurt feelings, and frustration.  That’s simply part of it.

But marriage ultimately is an act of service.  Think about it.  How much less would you be disappointed in your marriage if you completely stopped seeking to gain things from it, and instead focused all that negative thinking on ways to give to your partner.

We live more than ever in a “what’s in it for me society”.  This is detrimental to marriage, because it turns us into selfish people that focus only on our own needs and wants.

Marriage is about giving more thought to your spouse than yourself.  If you are struggling in your marriage, try getting the focus off you, start studying your spouse again, seek to cheer them on, uplift them, and make them happy.

You might just find things can change and turn around.  Remember you made a vow of commitment.  Remember you married your spouse because of deep feelings you had towards them.  Feelings change yes, but your love and friendship towards them doesn’t have to.  That’s a choice.  What are you choosing?

Giving Up

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Giving up can be really easy sometimes, you want to throw in the towel, give in, quit, start something new, start fresh.

Everything at some point loses its luster.  New jobs become not so new anymore, cars lose their “new car” smell, clothes become old, our phone needs replacing, and sometimes in our relationships they grow cold.

A lot of people contribute relationships growing cold to just being “incompatible” anymore.  Or just being “too different”.  It’s startling to me how often I hear this.

I don’t think it’s ever a matter of being “incompatible” but rather an issue of being “unwilling”.

Think back for a minute.  How different were you when you got married?  I can look back three and a half years and I barely recognize who I was then.  That’s part of life.  Both my wife and I have changed drastically over the past few years, our interests have changed, dreams, goals, feelings.  All these things change and will continue to change over the course of our lives….and this is a good thing.

Life  happens and you grow as a person and you grow as a couple.

But what happens is that change comes and shakes things up, and it can feel uncomfortable and alarming at first.  People say how they didn’t sign up for this or that…..beg your pardon but yeah you did when you made a vow.

Let’s say Target never got any new inventory and instead they only sold the same stuff as the day they opened, old movies, old clothes, old food, out of date everything.

Would you want to shop there?  No.  We have to change, and we have to be okay with our spouses changing….it’s life.

And where the true break down occurs, is people simply get lazy.  They stop trying to make their relationship work, they stop trying to understand their spouse, stop asking questions, until the relationship grows cold and stale, and then you hear stuff like, “we just grew apart,” duh?  You intentionally grew apart, it’s not like you just woke up one morning and everything changed…nothing happens that way, everything is a slow methodical process.

So what’s the answer to all this?  Don’t give up.  Don’t quit, don’t get lazy.

Work your butt off just like in anything else and the results will astound you.

The D Word

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Divorce is a pretty casual word these days.  To many it’s just something that is expected.  It’s viewed much like winter time…it’s inevitable that it will come.

The sayings go something like, “people change”, or “people fall out of love”.

Now before I go further, I want to say that I believe divorce is okay…in certain circumstances.  If abuse is going on either verbal or physical, you need to get out of that relationship.

If your spouse is cheating on you, you can get a divorce, you don’t have to live with that.

Outside of those two things, I am pretty against divorce and let me explain why.

When people get married there are a lot of expectations.  Let’s face it, most of us get married at a time in our lives when we don’t even really know who we are.  We grow up with all kinds of hurts and scars and we get married thinking the other person is going to fix and heal all our wounds, and we will ride off into the sunset together every night.

Then reality hits.  You get to know someone in marriage in a way that nothing else on earth compares to.  There are no more walls, no more pretenses, no more faking. It’s raw, real, and not always pretty.

After being married things often get very hard, because the structure of marriage causes all kinds of junk that we never even knew we had in our lives to come spewing out of us.  We chock this up to “people changing”.  But in reality it has nothing to do with that, that person didn’t suddenly morph into something else after you got married, it was there all along.

Here’s an argument that really gets me going. “We just fell out of love”.  I don’t believe you “fall out of love”.  I think it’s a cop-out.

Falling out of love is simply you not trying anymore, you give up.  Not just on the other person, but you give up on yourself.  “Falling out of love” is not a reflection of your relationship with your significant other, it’s a reflection on yourself.  There is some deep lack in your own life that have not addressed, and so you project that lack onto another person, thinking that you are just not with the right person.

Then you go and get with someone else, and shockingly…the same thing happens. Because guess what?  You still have the same issues in your own life that you are failing to deal with.

Staying in love with someone isn’t some sappy feeling…feelings come and go, they are extremely finicky.  Love is a decision that you deliberately make on a daily basis.  It’s a commitment you make, for better or for worse.

It’s a laying down of your self and saying, whether they deserve it or not, I am going to serve them to the best I can so help me God. And often times we need God’s help desperately to get us through dark times.  But if we are willing, He does, and He will.

So don’t give up on love.  Fight for it.  Fight hard.  Serve for it.  Give everything you’ve got. Examine yourself, realize you are messed up.  Stop focusing on the negative about your spouse, and start realizing the negative things in your own life, and just wait and see what will happen in your relationship.