Monday, November 21, 2005

The Crude...or whatever it is, just go away!!!

Some times our bodies just say...TIMEOUT!!! They do this with some fairly quick sickness' Lately this thing has hit our house, everyone of us has caught it and pardon me, but it sux.

It zaps your energy and drastically changes your moods from one minute to the next.

Unfortunately, it doesn't change the demands on our lives. Work and Family continue on. House chores, projects are still needing our attention.

So I Pray, that whatever this bug is, just go away!!!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Daily Inventory

Wow, quite simply a rush of thought and events have passed through my mind this past week. From the Riots in France, to the spectacle that is Terrell Owens in the NFL, to volunteering at the MLS Cup yesterday in Frisco, to a frustrating attempt to stall my irate customer while my company works on a true solution, to fighting some type of sickness, to getting ready to go out of town for 4 days...well the list goes on and on.

We all have our own relatively large "To Do" list that never seems to get completely done. After all as we finish a few items, a few more jump on for a free ride. How do we cope with so much to do.

Would it be wise to sort through these things and actually place a value on each item as well as firgure out where each sits in relation to our purpose? That's a tough one, after all that implies that we know our purpose. For this exercise, let's provide a given that we have this knowledge, so now what?

My experience shows me that we tend to focus on things that are on our minds at the moment so perhaps, this is an opportunity to work through a structured "Inventory" list. My friends like to refer to the 12 Steps associated with Alcoholics Anonomous. Specifically to step 4/5 and 10. Upone reviewing these steps, I found that it was and is helpful to sort through this with categories of which I am using the following:

  1. Physical
  2. Relational
  3. Spiritual
  4. Behavioral
  5. Personal

Actually this list is taken from "A L.I.F.E. Guide" my Mark Laaser, Ph.D. page 138 to be specific.

Taking a look at these areas of my life on a nearly daily basis, helps me to not wander off track too much. This helps me stay connected to me. When I'm not, I tend to disconnect from those around me.

I pause today as I go through this exercise. In reality a daily check-in for me is difficult. It requires a willingness to be real with myself, to be honest when the only one who knows the truth is me. How willing are you to be real on a daily basis? Are you willing to celebrate when you achieve this freedom? Are you willing to work for this freedom?

Ouch, I just realized there is no lottery on personal freedom. Yes, we can all choose salvation...but what must we do to live in true freedom? For me, a daily inventory helps to keep me in reality.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Variety of thoughts...not sure where it will lead

Today is one of those days that has me going through a range of thought and emotion. As I sit down to type this blog out, I find myself burning with Anger. There are a rash of topics, from work, to sports, to faith, to recovery, to relationships...I'm not sure where to start. Personally I don't do well with Anger.

No I'm not one of these guys that flies off the handle, instead I tend to take it inward and I close off from people and things. For some reason, Anger triggers some truly deep down emotions that I fear bringing to the surface. Things that I believe I have worked through, but every once in a while I find controlling me.

There is a part of me that wants to love people where they are at, but like myself, people are messy and realtionships are not perfect. I have friends and family going through some rough spots in their own relationships, and all I am suppose to do is sit quietly on the sideline and watch them either work it out or tear it to pieces. This is the part that I don't like.

Watching others making choices that either bring on victory or harch consequences. It's painful to watch. To bring this closer to home, I watched my older son Eric play in a Tennis tournament this week-end. He played a couple of really good matches, but as I watched I could see some things that his choices on the court where bringing to him. Yet, I can't tell him, it's his tennis and his choices. I've watched as my younger son Ryan chooses on the soccer field or even in selecting his soccer team. Again these are his choices.

Then I stop and think about choices that I have made over the years and I wonder, how does God view me? I'm sure that I can be a frustrating child of God. It's clear he has given me all the gifts to successfuly accomplish what He created me to be. I'm certain that many of you can quote the scriptures to back this up, but I wanted to take this time to personalize my thoughts and not provide "Church" speak.

In the end, I believe God looks on with Grace and lots of patience. I think about the guys that I spend time with each week working on "Recover" issues and how as a friend I believe in each one of them. I know that they will find the way that God has created for them. That is how God looks upon each of us. He Believes in us.

This brings me to my favorite line from a movie "The Count of Monte Cristo" I've shared this in another story,...In prison, the count is secretly meeting with another prioner who used to be a priest. The priest is teaching the count many things and in his teachings he is teaching about God's grace. Near death, the priest tells the count that when he gets out and finds the financial treasure that they have discussed that the count is to use it for good. Do as God would want. The Count asks "What if I don't believe in God?" The priest, says "That's okay, God believes in you!"

To me this is a paradigm shift on sharing the gospel. For years I have listened as we try to convince others to accept Christ, if only they would believe in Him. There is a crucial step, in my opinion that has been missed. It is time that we step up and validate God's belief in us.

As I focus on His belief in me then I find that I have an easier time making the decisions/choices that coincide with God's will. When I focus on myself and how I will look to my fellow man, then I find that I make choices that are less honoring to God.

In the end, his Grace is like a sports 24 hour rule. Teams win or lose, have 24 hours to celebrate of whine about a game, then it's time to focus on the next game. God's grace is there for me to celebrate when I am obedient and to go through the disappointment when I am not obedient. In the end it is time to move on to the next choice and not wallow in my previous decision.

Hey what do you know...writing can be rather healing. My anger/frustration is being lifted as I write. Thank you my reader friends simply for being you.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Out of energy

Let me speak in plain language today. It is just at 3:00PM on a Friday and I am exhausted. For most of the week I have been reflective and to some extent I am plain wore out. The pressure of life is just simply heavy today and I can't seem to point to one specific thing, just a culmination of many things.

Last night a friend shared about their son getting ready to return to Iraq. Her story really challenges my belief and support of what we as a nation are doing, but I continue to remain in strong support of our current administration and the fight for freedom in Iraq. My self, I have served 7 1/2 years in the Army, however I never did come face to face with fighting a war, nor did I ever want to. I was however prepared to serve if called upon.

Having said this, my heart goes out to my friends and their son. On that note, my heart is hurting for everyone involved in this battle. If anything, today I would challenge everyone to simply write a letter, send a card, make contact with a soldier fighting in the war. A simple card is worth more than a winning lotter ticket to the majority of our soldiers away from home.

It's not just the soldiers, as the same could be said for the many individuals and families serving as missionaries in a foreign community or land. Recently I was told that we have no idea what it means for a missionary friend to recieve a care package with a package of Reese's Cups!!! I urge all of us, as much as we connect through Cyberspace, send something through snail mail.

I know that when I was in the military and in a foreign land, I could hold somethign that I received in the mail and know that the person who sent it to me also held this gift in their hands, and in a small way I feel connected. For one simple moment I am able to slip away and be home!!!

I suppose that is what I need at the moment, so as I write this I picture myself at home. For me, my picture of home is a Kincaid painting called the "Prayer Garden" I can close my eyes and picture myself standing knee deep in the stream simply enjoying the sounds and smells of that nature. For this brief moment I am connected to God and to being home.

Only for a moment as now I hear the sounds of my dogs running in and out of the house, my older son Eric bouncing a tennis ball in the house and Ryan trying to get the dogs to play fetch in the house.

It's time to reconnect with reality and move forward, but for the last 10 minutes I was able to take a deep breath and wind down. Now I can go into the week-end with a little taste of peace on my mind.

I'm curious, what do you do to wind down at the end of a stressful day or week?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Living in today

It occured to me that as my thoughts and dreams are focused on the many tomorrows in front of me, there is no better time to enjoy the opportunity of the moment than by living in today. With this I took some time this morning to stay faithful in my Prayer, as this makes 10 days straight of morning quiet Prayer. As I share this, I can only pause and imagine how others who are strong in their faith also struggle with a Prayer time. It gives me more compassion for myself and the courage to want to be real with others in hopes that they too will gain strength as they learn to appreciate the moment and stage of their lives.

Later this morning around 6:30AM I helped Ryan study for a final exam in Computer Science that he will be taking this morning. Fortunately he had a review sheet filled with questions and answers, as I know very little about computers. He is taking a JAVA class, which to me is a good fresh cup of coffee, not some computer watchamacalit. Anyway, he really seems jazzed up and ready for his test. Its amazing to watch him and to reflect on how great it is to put in the work up front and to be excited about taking the test.

On a faith stand point, am I excited for my final exam when I have to face God?

Interesting thing in Ryan and Eric's school. They provide rewards for students who maintain a certain grade and have perfect attendance. They give them an exemption card, which allows them to be exempt from a final exam of their choosing.

Could I imagine having an exemption card from God? Fortunately, I and all of us have that opportunity and the great thing is that I don't need good grades or perfect attendance.

Even to this day, I am amazed and God's love for me and how that same love is there for everyone to accept.

This is what carries me to live in the moment and to enjoy the moment.

Now my day continues. After helping Ryan study, he was off to school so I took a moment to do a simple chore and run the dishes in an effort to help within the house. I fed the dogs, we have three dogs. Hope, Joy and Love!!! I think they are God's way of showing us unconditional love.

No matter what type of day I am having, they always want to be near me and around me. I picture the kids in Jesus' time who wanted to always be near him. Funny how we as people tend to over analyze and strategies how to be successful, when bottom line life is about relationships and making our yes' yes and our nos' no. People quite frankly want to have fun and enjoy being around each other.

Well, I am coming to my end of time this morning as I must get off to work. I have a conference call in 10 minutes that will lead into several other phone-meetings today. As business is a part of today, I Pray that I will live in the moment and actually enjoy the moments of work as an opportunity to have relationships with others and to be an example that reflects God's grace.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


In the process of my reconnecting with God through a daily Prayer ritual it occured to me that there are some folks near by that I need to connect with. They are my family.

It's not like we don't see each other or communicate, but we just all appear to be so lost in life that we don't take the time to just talk and share the things going on in our lives. In the midst of playing sports together or coaching together or "Watching TV" together, we do very little talking. As I thought about this, I began to feel an ache in my heart as I have been the one who has been the most guilty for not making the effort to lead my family in simple conversations.

So last night, as work died off and the evening was coming around, I took a step. First I took a mental note of my expectations and made a proactive choice to NOT control anyone in the house, rather I would let things go where they did and cherish the moments for what they where.

Next I took a quick inventory of the night. Brandy and Eric where at Tennis, while Ryan was at home playing on the playstation. I made a decision to prepare a simple dinner so that when Brandy and Eric arrived at home, the table would be set and dinner would be ready. Nothing grand, I made some Tacos and Rice for all of us to sit and eat together. Just prior to cooking I asked Ryan to take care of a few chores (Trash and Dish Duty). As Ryan completed his tasks and I completed getting dinner ready, I looked at the clock and realized that we had about 20-30 minutes before Brandy and Eric entered the house.

In the past I would sit down and flip through the mulitple sports choices on TV and let Ryan continue playing playstation on the other TV. On the flip side, I would try to find an activity for us to do together, outside or something of my own choosing. Instead, last night I decided to try and get into his world. I took a few minutes to play Madden Football with Ryan, who promplty crushed me. Of course I was saved by halftime as Brandy and Eric walked in the door and our game was canceled so that we could eat dinner together.

The night goes on as we talked a bit about school, tennis and life in general. We then cleaned up as a family team which again was out of character for us. After dinner, Brandy and Eric were wiped out from a long and busy day, so they retired to the TV to watch the latest episode of Bones. Eric has really gotten into these shows that are like the CSI shows and he has talked about wanting to get a degree in Forensics in order to go out and solve crimes.

Meanwhile Ryan was trying to figure out what he wanted to do, so I asked him if he wanted to play some games. He was interested and we promptly played a couple of board games for a little over an hour. The key is that we talked and talked...well he talked and I listened and asked questions as I was and am curious about his life.

As much of a soccer enthusiest that he is as a player and a fan, he shared some stories about new friends at school and he shared stuff from his classes. It was really cool to just chat with no agenda.

I was not planning to teach Ryan anything, nor was I in the process of doing anything other than just connect.

This coming week-end I will have a great opportunity to connect with Eric. I'm driving him to a Tennis tournament that is about 2 hours away. So we will have several hours alone simply to talk as he feels lead and feels safe enough to do.

So my Prayer is that as I reconnect with God and work on the "Clutter" in my life, that I will recognize and capitalize on the moments that God provides for me to connect with those that are the most important to me...Brandy, Eric and Ryan.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

What is your Spiritual Destiny?

What a question? During a coaching class last night we were discussing the issue of depression and people who are in despair and hopeless. Our instructor challenged us to take an informal poll of people we know and simply ask them "What is your Spiritual Destiny?"

All I can say is "WOW"

For me this is truly inspiring. This is not, what are you good at? What abilities do you have? Rather this hits home and drives the search for my ultimate purpose. It's a chance to look at spiritual gifts in a new light.

Please understand that recently we have been studying Ephesians in our ABF/Sunday School and through the study we touched on Spiritual Gifts. I personally studied these gifts to get in touch with my own gifting strengths and the gifts that I may not appreciate as well as others. That's me trying to be PC, in reality I do not have the gift of administration, organization and a few others.

It's rather funny, as currently God has spoken to me about "Clutter" in my life, so perhaps this is God calling me to develop my weaker gifts to a point so that I can truly perfect my strong gifts. At this point "Clutter" is getting in the way of my strengths and in turn I am NOT serving as I am called to.

But I digress...the key here is where are my spiritual gifts carrying me. Is it simply to serve the hear and now, the moment, the needs of today? Sure, they help with today and I can continue to live one day at a time...but there is a larger purpose that as I dream and seek, I catch a glimpse of God's vision for me. I see his greatness in my wife and in my children, I see the greatness in the people around me...but just possibly, I can sense that he has greatness in store for me as well.

After all it is God who created me, it is God who shaped me, it is God who provided me with a vision of tomorrow. So as I look at my destiny, I see a changed world. For me that changed world is France. I not only see a community here and there, but an entire nation rebuilt through salvation as they come to a unique relationship with God through Jesus. By the way, he is reaching the people of France through relationship with people like you and I.

I see my own destiny as having a home in France where along with my wife we have a community place that people can come and be home. However in this setting, I am in the background as the driving force is from the Holy Spirit as French people and others who live in this French community come together and they are the ones teaching and reaching with the Gospel of Jesus. Our home is also a place for others to rest. As much as it is a place where intelectual discussion is had, it is more a place that hearts can be poured out and filled with the love of Jesus.

My spiritual destiny is coming and some day, I will honor that which the lord has placed on my heart.

What is your spiritual destiny?