I think myself happy!

I recently enjoyed a conversation with a beautiful, brilliant, newly divorced friend.  We discussed many things, but the most significant conversation concerned  life & how it seems to be passing by without any joy, satisfaction or making memories.  Mere existence is simply not in my vocabulary!  I am a strong believer that life is what you make it. Granted, I can’t control whether someone runs a red light & crashes into me or a disease process takes it toll on my body.  I can, however, make sure I exercise wisdom, caution, & keen observation while driving.  I can also take care of my body including diet & exercise.

When mentoring, my opinion is humble & although it may not be taken seriously, I attempt to steer clear of it.  In doing so, I generally point to the Bible as my primary point of reference.  If I know a great historical example, I utilize them too.  During the above conversation I was immediately reminded of one of my favorite stories.  The Apostle Paul is one of my heroes next to David, Esther & of course, Jesus.  In this story Paul was captured, chained & tossed in prison.  The day came to stand before the King & what Paul said was profound.  Going back in history, it was prophesied that Paul would stand before Kings.  It didn’t allude to how he would be standing, but God would be glorified.  His statement in Acts 26:2 to King Agrippa was, “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews.”  Regardless of his circumstances, Paul took responsibility & when the opportunity arose, he chose to think himself happy.

In our lives, we face circumstances that can steal our joy; render us paralyzed with fear;  & create anxiety by consuming our thoughts whereby dominating such emotions.  I could be wrong, but I haven’t seen anyone literally bound with chains & shackles.  Oh wait……I forgot!  This is exactly what our thoughts become.  See….it isn’t the circumstance that instills fear, but our reaction to the circumstance.  We have a choice.  Here is a simple example.  For years I volunteered as camp nurse at our state campground for  youth retreats or summer camps.  I loved this time &  there were always exciting challenges.  When my son, Bryce, was around two years old he discovered something fun.  Rhino Beetles.  I, on the other hand, was extremely afraid of them.  They were huge, ugly & I had absolutely no idea what their capacity was, but I knew I wanted nothing to do with them.  One day Bryce wanted to show me his catch.  When I saw he was carrying a Rhino Beetle, I immediately wanted to scream & run.  I knew my son well enough that if I showed this type of reaction, I would have Rhino Beetles in my bed!  Regardless of my fear & anxiety, my response, not my reaction,  was cool, calm & collected.  I shuddered after he left!   The beetles, my circumstance, had no idea I was freaking out.  We can respond appropriately or react in fear, anger or anxiety.  Paul had many valid reasons on numerous occasions to forsake his mission, yet he was a man with a determined purpose.

choosing to be happy is healthyEach choice we make requires energy.  We can expend our negative energy on fear, anger, or anxiety OR……we could devote the same amount of positive energy on faith, prayer, gratitude, confidence, hope & belief. Today I used an example from something the Apostle Paul did.  His choices became his legacy & continue to direct people on a daily basis.  YOU are just as valuable & capable of making significant choices.  The mind is the greatest battlefield.  Thoughts can be held captive or left to sabotage our lives. Either way we can direct the battleground. 

 It’s a choice.  In the end….I pray above all things that you think &  choose wisely! 

Blessings,

g

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Excellence & Failure

I was reading a biblical devotion for leaders this morning & wanted to share.
Often times we strive for excellence, but never want to admit failure. We quote that failure isn’t an option. In doing so, we set an unrealistic expectation creating an environment where many people never even try. This devo explains, as great leaders understand all too will, they are synonymous. Enjoy!
Blessings
g

Matthew 14:30

As demanding as Jesus was, he repeatedly allowed his team to fail. Consider Peter, who walked on water until he took his eyes off Jesus and took a bath. Or … the time Jesus instructed his disciples to feed five thousand people with seven loaves and two fish (Matthew 14:13–21). It only took a moment for them to realize that this was an order their sandwich stand couldn’t fill … In spite of all these failures, and many others, Jesus never lost confidence in his men. One of the most powerful leadership lessons Jesus exemplified was the creation of a team environment where failure was routine. Excellence and failure are partners, not enemies. In fact, the only way to achieve excellence is through repeated failures.
– Bill Perkins

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Kids & Self-Entitlement

After Christmas I began seeing quite a few blogs regarding the way we raise our children without creating brats or little humans displaying self-entitlement mentalities.  I found them very interesting & agreed with quite a few suggestions.

I have successfully raised two wonderful kids ages 25 & 36, both of which have children of their own.  When they were young I probably paid them for chores until I realized chores were a part of being a family. Everyone is responsible, pitches in & does their fair share or at least age appropriate fairness!  If there was a particular situation where they needed money for a project such as camp, I would suggest “working” for someone else or I would assign special chores in which I paid them for doing. I divorced when Summer was a senior in High School & Bryce was in first grade.  It was vital  to institute a plan that worked for everyone.   I will never forget when Bryce wanted to make money for something he deemed important & he created his own list.  Each contribution to daily chores were carefully calculated in cent values.  It was priceless!

When it came to gifts, I encouraged my kids to buy for parents, friends, etc.  When Summer was young, many of our gifts were handmade as we were very creative.  Bryce had the luxury of being raised as an only child after Summer married & had privy to all my spare change throughout the year.  He saved diligently & purchased gifts Christmas for friends / family.  Hearing his description of how good it felt to give to others is forever etched in my memories.

We were very involved in church & had many opportunities to sow into the lives of others.  These type of activities didn’t always include monetary donations, but rather time.  At one time, Summer & I were both enrolled in Bible School.  After my graduation I went on staff as the assistant administrator of the Bible School.  One of my duties included being the program director for community outreach & Saturday Sunday School was one of our largest ministries. On Saturday mornings, throughout the city, several student groups would host meetings with children of all ages.  We had praise & worship, played games, performed skits, offered time for them to ask for prayers & salvation.  We fed them lunch & left with indescribable feelings of love & gratitude for having the opportunity to serve such precious kids. I was a clown!  Of course I was! It was the greatest, most uninhibited freedom ever!  Summer was responsible for a group of her own. Every other weekend Bryce accompanied me & participated in every activity.  In addition to Saturday Sunday School, Bryce & I accompanied a group that visited a local Boys & Girls Clubs each week.  Our time was consumed with being others focused. One Saturday we blitzed a neighborhood where we would begin a new group.  Our conversation afterwards, describing his observance of the people we talked to that day, is another etched memory.  You see……we must give our children the chance  to understand how they can make a difference & in doing so they become extremely grateful for what they have.  

The Bible compares our children to arrows in the hands of mighty warriors.  Why do we feel like we are not giving them enough & continue to stress over it?  Arrows pierce.  Our children can & should be the greatest force in the world around them armed with confidence, validation, courage & purpose. Instead…..we allow the world to pierce or wound their little spirits.   ALL THE TIME I hear how people want to give their children things they never had.  Let me ask you some questions?

  • What kind of adult are you?  Responsible?  Irresponsible?  Complacent?
  • Do you work & provide for your family?  Do they have the basic needs – food, clothing & shelter?
  • Are you concerned about their well-being?
  • Are you protective of their associations?

As you ponder these, please think about what was so horrible as a child & what you didn’t have that fuels this drive to over produce for your children.  Going without “things” often creates a sense of determination to succeed & easily recognize the needs of others. Not having adequate supervision often creates a sense of responsibility & concern or protection for others.  The struggles you feel you had as a child could have affected the adult you are now.  I was raised on a farm & we pretty much had to be self-sufficient.  I worked during the summer helping my daddy with the crops.  I couldn’t do any activities until I completed my responsibilities.  My mom sewed our clothes, canned/preserved food for the winter, & we raised our own animals for meat / dairy consumption. When friends stayed over, they helped too.  Please evaluate what was so terrible about your childhood?  Chances are you are extraordinary & I’m confused as to why you won’t allow your children to develop the same amazing qualities.  In providing a hand out to our children instead of a hand up, we alter their ability to discover who they really are & what they’re capable of accomplishing. The result of producing clones mimicking the world around us is very frustrating. How many times have you told your children how ungrateful they are?  Why are they? Don’t get me wrong. I have seen some children who have been given every opportunity to show gratitude & simply won’t.  I was determined to help my kids discover & practice gratitude. Here’s a story!  Once we pulled in a drive through window at Burger King & as soon as Bryce got his kid’s meal he pitched a fit.  Not over the food!  He was mad because he already had the toy he just received in his meal.   At that moment I reminded him his behavior of being ungrateful was unacceptable & has just cost him the privilege of getting kids meals for quite a while.  When I finally allowed him to order them again, he never once pitched another fit!  We created a basket to collect duplicate toys & donated them to toy drives.  Again…..giving to others.

We, as adults, have self entitlement attitudes in in-quantifiable magnitudes.  Remember…..from the second we enter the world as an infant it’s all about us.  We’re hungry & we cry.  We’re wet/dirty & we let the world know.  The world revolves around us because our nature dictates so.  As we grow, we develop a learned behavior that quite possibly there are others who have needs as well.  This is a hard revelation for some!  I won’t begin to list the growing number of adults in our nation who continue to believe the world revolves around them & demand everything. We have a tendency to scold our children for being ungrateful or unappreciative, but in reality……they could be mirror images of who we are.

ImageI encourage you to chart a new course for 2014.  Find community opportunities that will allow you & your children to participate in serving others together.  Before getting new toys, have them give toys away to others. Instead of you throwing them in a trash bag & dropping them in a donation station, have them sort, pack & actively give them away.   Involve them in local seasonal activities such as Angel Tree gifts, back to school, Easter, etc.  Allow them to help you prepare meals.  They learn to appreciate the time & effort spent on your behalf to provide something for them to eat.  Suggest making meals for shut-ins & allow them to help you prepare it & accompany you with the delivery.  They can create the artwork for get well / thank you cards & have them write letters or cards to our military serving away from home.  Perhaps you could participate in a group clothing swap.  Instead of you spending time purchasing teachers gifts, involve them in making gifts from the heart!  When you financially prepare for sending your children to summer camp, provide a scholarship on behalf your child to assist with tuition for another child to go. Be sure to involve you child in making the money to do so!  I’m sure there are unknown hundreds of ways to accomplish your new course. Please feel free to share ideas, projects or technics you practice with your children.

Our children are only in our care for a few short years & the cycle they continue is critical. My childhood responsibilities on the farm has made me very independent & appreciative of my ability to embrace the natural basics of life with minimal transition.  I used to tell Bryce I wasn’t raising just him, but I was raising a father & a husband.  What I did may not have made sense to him at that time, but prayerfully it would later!  Today, I am so very proud that he is an extremely responsible father & husband!  The creativity I used to involve Summer in has paid off with undeniable dividends!  Over the years we have done some unbelievable projects & just spent New Years Eve creating our own whipped body butters, toothpaste, day/night creams, room sprays, shampoo & etc.  She is one of the most giving, talented & resourceful women I know.  As a single mom, I never felt I did enough & I certainly wasn’t a perfect mom.  I felt like a failure on so many levels I can’t even describe them. Somehow….my kids were resilient & are amazing!

At this point in my life, I feel beyond accomplished.  You can’t measure it materialistically, but that isn’t always what counts.  There is one thing you & your children are entitled to…. this feeling & living a life dedicated to serving humanity!

Blessings,

g

Regarding your children. The days might be long, but the years are short. – Andy Stanley