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I am extremely excited to announce the launch of a brand new blog entitled Confessions Of A Parent, coming very soon!
The biggest reason I am so excited about this is that COAP is all about finding hope. And we all need a little hope sometimes, right? Any parent will tell you- there are days when you feel like it’s you against your kids, you against your spouse, you against other parents, and you against the world! Through COAP we hope to create an online community where stories and real-life experiences, from the trenches of parenting, help to bring a smile and encouragement to parents of all ages or stages in the parenting journey.
COAP is NOT designed to be a “how-too” or a “do this and then” on parenting. We like to think of it as more of an “I know,” “I’ve been there,” “I felt the same way” on parenting!
Join me this Monday! I would love for you to be part of the discussion. I’m pleased to also announce that along with my contributions I’ll be joined by several other extremely talented bloggers from time to time who are also parents and have tons of hilarious and thought-provoking stories to tell! I can’t wait to see all of the amazing things that come out of this community.
You can find the blog by visiting http://www.confessionsofaparent.com.
I would also love for you to spread the word about COAP via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ or email.
Thanks for taking time to check this out. If you have comments, questions, or thoughts, feel free to utilize the comment section of this post. I’ll respond as quickly as possible!
Did you see the heavens open up this week?
The sun and moon stopped for a period of time. See that one?
Jupiter and Mars aligned? Missed that one too, huh?
Perhaps you noticed that hell did not freeze over?
Apple unveiled iPhone 5 last week and, as usual, those of us Apple zombies turned and began to methodically march toward the light. Yeah, I was one of them. Although I stopped short of pulling the trigger on the pre-order. I decided I would share the reasons I am NOT going to buy an iPhone 5 first….
1. It’s has a better camera than the 4s.
2. The body of the phone is longer to accommodate widescreen movies.
3. It has a larger battery that lasts longer.
4. It has (as Apple puts it) a “brilliant 4-inch retina display.”
5. It has super fast wireless…..
Ah, for crying out loud, who am I kidding…. I couldn’t cap it at 3 reasons. As you can see, I’m hooked. I’ll have one pre-ordered by the end of this week most likely!
Apple Zombie. That’s me. I own it. I’ll wrap this post with a question that Jack Nicholson raised in the original Batman, as The Joker- “Where do they get those wonderful toys?”
Question- Have you pre-ordered yours yet? Be honest! You’re an addict too…..
I found myself frustrated!
It was early on a Sunday morning and I was practicing songs for a worship set I was leading for student worship later that morning.
I was frustrated because the tracks I was practicing with were a bit different from the tracks we would actually be using with the band later in the service (long story short- they were click & cue tracks with example vocals and I needed the tracks without the example vocals).
Along with frustration, I felt nervous and unprepared. Bottom line: I didn’t want to screw up in front of a few hundred teenagers!
But, it was my fault.
It was my fault that I only had the tracks with example vocals and here’s why-
I had all week, and complete access to our network, to download the performance tracks and create the right practice material that I felt I needed. I never took advantage of the time I had.
As I sat in my living room, stewing, the thought suddenly occurred to me: I can’t change my circumstance. All I can do is adapt to it and move forward with the resources that are available to me.
You see, the truth might be this-
She’s not coming home!
He’s not going to get re-hired!
They’re not coming back to life!
You can’t go back in time and change that moment!
Another person made a choice that affected you and you had no power to stop them!
You didn’t take advantage of the time or access you had and all you have is what you have!
Sometimes your circumstances cannot be changed. Sometimes all you can do is move forward with the resources you have.
I was frustrated but everything went well in the service that morning. And I believe it had everything to do with my choice to move forward with what I could use.
Question: Have you ever had a situation where you could not change your circumstances? How did you handle that situation?
Why she left.
Why that employer fired you.
Why that addiction ruined your life.
Why he chose someone “better”.
Why that career ended.
Why that disease took your husband.
Why your daughter made that choice.
Why your wife isn’t coming home.
Why that accident happened.
Why that kid made that choice.
Why she said those hateful things.
Why your friend stabbed you in the back.
Why he chose work over your family.
Why they stole everything from you.
Why that co-worker said those things about you behind your back.
Why that teacher thinks you’re a failure.
Why that person hates you because of your color.
Why he craves an image on a computer screen more than your touch.
Why she won’t listen.
Why he gambled away your life’s savings.
Why some days are just dark.
Why cancer ate her body.
Why things change.
Why she went missing.
Why seasons seem hopeless.
Why they lost their life at the hands of another.
Why she slept with someone else.
Why they stopped believing in your dream.
Why he told you he doesn’t love you anymore.
Why they turned their back on you.
Why hell seems closer than heaven sometimes.
Why peace is elusive.
Why there’s more screaming than calmness.
Why he drank and then drove.
Why your parents tear down your self-esteem.
Why there isn’t enough money.
Why the same demons show up in your life day after day.
I can’t tell you why. As much as I would like to, I just can’t sometimes. But I can tell you this- when all seems hopeless and lost, dark and distant, destructive and dead-ended, this one thing remains:
“Have you not heard, do you not know? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will never grow tired or weary and His understanding no one can fathom. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men and women stumble and fall. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.”
The one thing you cannot change is change itself.
I should probably say that different- you cannot prevent change from happening. It’s going to happen whether you like it or not. At some point, the old will move on and the new will enter in. And the new and old could be good or bad. You just don’t know.
It will happen by:
gaining new perspective…
realizing a new dream…
falling in love…
falling out of love…
a discovery that there is more to life than your current predicament…
being asked to leave and never come back…
bulldozers showing up to demolish…
a career ending…
receiving an eviction notice…
a contract expiring…
the company being bought out…
the star quarterback getting released…
wrecking your car…
…or you realizing that staying the same hurts worse than the change itself!
I’m personally in a season of change. To say that it has been difficult at times would be quite an understatement. But I can say with confidence that I have grown more than ever as I’ve walked this road. There have been days of sheer emptiness and days where I feel less directional than a leaf in a windstorm. But there have also been days when I’ve felt led in a distinct direction more than ever.
All in all, I’ve become keenly aware of 2 things- First, that God is faithful. He has never left my side and He never will. I have nothing to fear. Just read Psalm 91 if you don’t believe me. I’ve also learned when I embrace change and continue to look at the horizon ahead and not the setting sun behind me I really find the deepest fulfillment possible. It’s easy to keep wishing you could stay where it’s safe or return to what you believe were “better” times. But that’s not reality. I once sat with a sobbing student who kept saying “I just wish I could get back to where I was a few years back when I was stronger.” I responded by saying, “I don’t think God wants you to go back to that time and place. I think He wants to show you all He has planned for you here and now.”
I grew up partially on a farm. I say partially because my family actually lived in Southern Ohio but my grandmother owned a big farm in Northern Kentucky. So we would spend a majority of the summer on her farm. I loved that farm. It is one of the few places that I can close my eyes today and still see, taste and smell the place. She sold the entire farm in 1997 to a developer. It was time for a change. Recently I looked up the location on Google Maps and this is what I found:
It’s inevitable. Change will happen whether you like it or not. While my grandmother’s farm sat untouched for nearly 8 years after she sold it, the developer finally secured enough funds to build homes on it. Everything changed. The only remaining feature on the land today is the hay barn. It’s the tiny silver structure in the lower center of the shot. As I looked over the land on Google, I didn’t really feel sad. I felt confident. That’s right, confident!
I’m confident that change will happen (for better or for worse), and the best thing we can do is accept it and choose to live in it and through it, trusting in a Heavenly Father who is faithful to lead us and never let go of us.
I’ve found this to be very true in my own life. How about yours?
Question: What has been your greatest moment of change? How did it affect you? How did it reshape you for better or for worse?
I couldn’t believe it!
Over 300 views on my blog in a few hours. In fact, in all, over 500 views in 3 days.
For the most part, in the world of blogging, this is a small number in comparison to other blogs but, then again, my blog doesn’t garner many views on a daily basis. I’d estimate 20-30 a day at most. I don’t write for worldwide acclaim or attention here. I write to express my thoughts and views on what it means to live life to the fullest.
But here’s the kicker: On the day I had over 300 views (this past Monday), I hadn’t posted anything new. In fact, it had been days since my last post. I found it very strange. But after I did some investigating I figured out why this was happening. Back in March I wrote a post about former LSU soccer player and homecoming queen, Mo Isom. I wrote about her because of what she was attempting to do after her soccer career- become the first female kicker on LSU’s football team. That’s right, she was trying out to be their placekicker. (You can read the original post here).
I wrote the post because of her incredible display of patience, work ethic and leadership. Even after being told she had more work to do by head football coach Les Miles, she refused to quit. She vowed to keep working hard and return in the fall to try out again.
And that’s exactly what she did, very recently, in fact.
She was making news again in the past week as she made another attempt at making the football team. And that’s the reason for so many hits on my blog. As people searched her name on Google and a few other search engines, they came across the post I wrote on this blog. The rest is history. To date, the hits keep on coming. I’m up to nearly 600 since this past Monday.
It proves 2 things:
The internet is unpredictable, and, the internet deserves the utmost respect from its users.
1. The internet never forgets- I wrote that post back in March of this year. That’s about 6 months ago. While that may not seem like that long ago, in blogging world it’s eons ago. But one little Google search and up pops a post written by a no-name blogger about a high profile college student trying to make history.
2. The internet is working even when you’re not paying attention- it’s kind of like your heart and lungs. You spend most of your life not paying attention to their functionality but they’re still working (and that’s a good thing in terms you staying alive!). But the internet is much the same. It never sleeps, never takes a break, and certainly never stops being called upon for service. To put this into perspective consider this- Wikipedia gets about 10.65 million hits per day, IMDB (Internet Movie Database) gets about 100 million requests per day, and Facebook gets about 2 billion page requests per day. That’s kind of a lot!
3. The internet can spread information quicker than the hottest, fastest wildfire. Also back in March I wrote a post about Frank Hall, the heroic assistant football coach from Chardon High School who chased an armed gunman from the school’s campus and then knelt by dying students and comforted them as their lives ended. As I wrote that post on a Friday afternoon, simply to express my heart to Mr. Hall, I had no idea what would happen in the days following. My post landed on Facebook and from there, a friend who grew up in the community of Chardon re-posted it. Several of her family members and former classmates in Chardon picked up on it and began to re-post it. It hit the stratosphere. By 10 pm that evening it had received over 700 views. The following day it received over 1300 views. By the end of the weekend it had tallied close to 3000 views in all. It made its way to Ohio, North Carolina, California, Texas, Wyoming, Florida, Georgia and Alaska not to mention several countries. One little 300 word post spread like a raging brush fire. That’s power! (You can read the original post on Frank Hall here.)
Bottom line: the internet deserves our respect. It has more power than we know what to do with. I have seen and heard of careers being ruined or up-ended by people posting foolish, harmful, or illegal content online. Marriages have fallen apart because people have become entangled in online connections that are un-healthy and un-faithful. Friendships have imploded because what someone thought was a private message or comment about someone else spilled into public view.
The list goes on and on!
The next time you’re tempted to post something on Twitter, Facebook, or a blog in haste or frustration, take a moment to consider the possible backlash of what you’re about to write. It may be the difference between keeping your job, marriage, or friendship in tact, and losing everything you’ve worked hard for! It’s just not worth the cost.
Respect the internet, and it will respect you back.
Question: How have you found this to be true (or not true) in your personal or professional life?
Used that language?
Told another lie?
Looked at that website?
Crossed another boundary?
Fudged on some details?
Let that friend down?
Double-crossed a promise made?
Spewed hateful words to your spouse?
Pushed around instead of led?
Acted selfishly to your friend?
Drank way too much?
Cheated so you could pass?
Gave in to that addiction?
Participated in gossip?
Engaged in unhealthy behavior?
Sent a nasty email or text?
Allowed your thoughts to dictate your actions?
Deceived your spouse?
Broken the law?
Thought nasty things about someone who was succeeding?
Done or said something you regret?
If you have, guess what? You’re not alone!
And guess what? You’ll probably do one or more of those things again. After all, you’re human. You’re imperfect. Your flesh is really good at betraying you. And you’re really good at allowing it.
See the sunrise? See the morning?
Do you know what that means?
It means that you can start over! This is a new day. There is grace. There is hope.
Early this morning I read something in I Peter chapter 5, verses 8-9, that struck a chord with me. You may find this passage odd or a bit discouraging, considering what I just typed above, but I’ll explain…
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.” (I Peter 5:8-9, NLT)
I know what you’re thinking upon reading that….. “Um, yeah, I know! That’s why I feel like crap in the first place!”
You read this and nod, knowing this is true. We are constantly under attack. We fail, we fall, we sin! Why give me a verse that clearly confirms what I already know, and worse, have already succumbed to?
I’m not quoting this verse to show you what’s being said. I’m quoting it to bring your attention to what’s not being said!
Check this out: In verse 9, Peter (the person who penned this) gives us a solution to help us deal with the reality of verse 8- the devil prowls around like a lion waiting to eat us for dinner (aka- temp us, make us fail, convince us that we suck and watch us squirm as we give up and start to accept that as truth). His solution: “Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.”
What he doesn’t say is- “stand firm against him, and stop sinning,” or “stand firm against him, and be a better Christian,” and definitely not “stand firm against him, or you and me are done here!”
What Peter does say is powerful and actually quite a relief- “Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.” Translation: stop taking Satan’s crap and believe that God is holding you together and leading you even more than you already do, in-spite of anything you’ve done wrong!
Should we try to sin less than we do- YES! Absolutely. But not so you can earn approval from God. Simply to experience the best and most healthy life He has to offer.
Can we live a sinless life- NO! You and I are human beings and we are broken and messed up. It’s true: we are a walking, breathing, piled up train wreck of an existence. The only hope we have is to pick ourselves up when we mess up, look at a gracious and merciful Savior and believe (even more than we do) that He is alive and He is holding us together. It comes down to having a really strong faith that God is defeating sin and death every day in us- not by what we do, but what we believe to be true. That’s the way we defeat the devil.
The sun creeping over the tree tops and blazing across your face is confirmation of that. It’s a new day. You can start over. In Jesus’ name you are washed clean, made new, and set apart as beautiful!
Just look out your window- there it is. A new day. It’s His gift to you and it’s free! Start living it.
Question: How hard is this to do? What is stopping you from doing it (or believing Peter’s words to be true)?
Could it really be this easy?
Yes, it could.
I’m having a hard time believing it.
Apparently, millions of other people are having the same trouble.
So, you’re telling me that we could fix most (Note: the title was more of an attention getter!) of our problems, and the world’s, by understanding one simple concept?
Yep! It’s true.
If every human being decided to authentically serve one another and put other people’s needs above their own, this world would be a different place and most of our individual and worldly problems would be solved. Not every problem, but most. After all, you still have to pay your taxes, mortgage, & gas bill. Oh, and there will still be hurricanes, heat-waves & tornadoes. We really can’t avoid those.
It’s simple to understand but difficult to apply (because we get in the way of ourselves far too often). Trust me, I know this all to well.
But, applied whole-heartedly, it will change you and the world around you. Potentially, forever!
Ready? Here goes:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”
-Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)
“Get off my bumper!” I muttered under my breath, watching the impatient driver behind me.
She was speeding up and then dropping back, speeding up and then dropping back. At times she would weave out into the passing lane to see if she had an opportunity to pass me. “What is this, a NASCAR race?” I thought. “Where’s the fire lady?”
My arm rested on the center consul of my car like a loaded weapon ready to go off at any moment. I wanted to start flailing and gesturing. It took a lot of restraint not to. My frustration built and built with every passing mile.
And that’s when I realized something. I was doing the same thing to the driver in front of me that she was doing to me- tailgating, speeding up, slowing down, etc. I was so busy focusing on and being frustrated with the driver behind me that I missed the fact that I was just as guilty.
Suddenly, I was humbled. I looked at her one more time in my rearview mirror but this time I saw more fingers pointing back at me than the one I was pointing at her.
I whispered to myself, as my body slunk deeper into my seat, “Fix yourself first!”
“You could have every person on the face of the earth accuse you of everything under the sun…but when you live your life with integrity, none of their accusations have a leg to stand on!”
I never forget hearing these words. They were spoken nearly a decade ago when I served with a progressive church on the North side of Indianapolis.
I wish I could say I heard them spoken in a sermon or from a leadership podcast, but that wasn’t the case.
They were spoken by a person who was sitting with me as I dealt with the weight of accusations from some very frustrated people.
I had failed. I had promised to do something and then failed to follow through and the result- frustration, lack of trust, and enormous anger.
I learned a valuable lesson that night- living your life with integrity means everything. To live without it, or to waiver on it from time to time, could cost you everything- your family, your career, your reputation. Thankfully, my situation was resolved quickly and quietly. It wasn’t a moral or ethical failure, just bad judgement. But it was wrong of me. And left untouched, it could have been much worse.
Here’s 3 things I’ve learned over the past several years about integrity-
1. Integrity means that you’re the same person privately that you are publicly.
The question is, are you? When you’re all alone, away from the crowd, away from your husband or wife, away from the people who keep you real, are you the same person that you are when you’re around them? You may think that you can be two different people and get away with it but here’s the truth: inevitably the personality in hiding will infiltrate the personality that everyone sees. Watch the musical Dr. Jekyl & Mr Hyde for a reminder of this.
2. Integrity means you’re aware and concerned of how others perceive you.
In the book Integrity by Dr. Henry Cloud, he challenges readers to always be asking other people (colleagues, family, friends etc.) this question: What’s it like from the other end of me? And when you ask this, be willing to hear the truth. You need to hear it and apply it in order to become the healthiest person/leader/spouse/ possible.
3. Integrity means that you are a person of your word.
What you say you will do, you do! No exceptions. People lose trust real quick when a person makes promises or sets out to accomplish something and then goes back on that promise.
Question: What lessons on integrity have you learned recently or in your professional career?