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Everybody is looking for validation, no matter who you are, and I think that’s a need of the human condition – to look for affection or recognition or validation.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Over the weekend, my wife and I went to see The Wizard of Oz at the Walnut Street Theater.

I’ve seen the movie dozens of time, and the musical held true to the movie with a few additions.

In the story, Dorothy is looking for a way back home.  The Scarecrow is looking for a brain.  The Tin Man is looking for a heart.  And the Lion is looking for courage.

At the end of the story, the Wizard provides a diploma for the Scarecrow, a heart clock for the Tin Man, a medal of bravery for the Lion, and an offer of a balloon ride home for Dorothy.

With these gifts, the Scarecrow begins to think, the Tin Man begins to love, and the Lion begins to believe in himself.  (And Dorothy begins to realize the blessing of her home and family in Kansas.)

The Wizard didn’t really give the Scarecrow a brain, the Tin Man a heart, and the Lion valor.  He simply spoke into their lives and expressed belief in them.  He validated them as creatures who bring value to the Land of Oz.

Do you believe in yourself?  Or do you struggle with confidence, fear, and acceptance?

We all need to be validated.  We all need someone to speak into our lives – someone to believe in us.  We need someone who can tell us we can do it.

Who is that person for you?

My parents have validated me since I was a little boy telling me I was smart, caring, and capable.

My boss at work has validated me since I started working at Siemens over 20 years ago encouraging me to pursue my dreams and challenging me to step into new opportunities.

My wife has validated me since we met reminding me that I am loved.

And honestly, you have validated me letting me know that my words matter and that they are worth reading.  (Thank you!)

We all need to be validated.

What happens when this kind of validation is missing from our lives?

We lose our way.  We find ourselves wandering and lost.  We don’t live our lives to the fullest.  We become voices of doubt and negativity for those around us.

I don’t want to live this way.  I want to live with intention.  I want to live a life that matters.  And I want to be a voice of positivity for others in this world.

Finding validation is critical to our lives.  Here are a few suggestions for find the validation you need:

3 Ways To Find The Validation You Really Need

  1. Look to the ultimate “Validator.”  Look to God.  Remember, He created you, and He created you for a purpose.  He loves you.  He sent His Son to die for you.  You matter to God.  This isn’t meant to be cliché.
  2. Surround yourself with encouragers.  Look for people who lift each other up, and find ways to hang out with these people.  Jim Rohn says “You are the average of the five people you hang out with the most.”  Hang out with people who will encourage you.
  3. Avoid the naysayers.  You may need to separate yourself from people who consistently tell you “You can’t.”  Negative people will suck you into their negativity, and they will prevent you from feeling good about who you are and why you are here.

Finally, I’m guessing there are people in your life who struggle with feelings of inadequacy, feelings of doubt, and feelings of despair.  Take time to be a voice of validation in their lives.

Find the good in others, and help them see it for themselves.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:14

Do you struggle with self-doubt and self-worth?  How have you overcome these feelings?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Thanksgiving Day is a good day to recommit our energies to giving thanks and just giving.

Amy Grant

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, I introduced the Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition.  This is a tradition our family started 15 years ago, and it has helped ensure we intentionally reflect on God’s provision in our lives over the past year.  To read more about the tradition, click here.

This week, I’ll be sharing the things I’ll be writing on the tablecloth this year.  (Monday, I shared the first thing I’ll be writing on the tablecloth.  Tuesday, I shared the second thing I’ll be writing on the tablecloth.  And yesterday, I shared the third thing I’ll be writing on the tablecloth.)

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Today, I’m thankful for my kids.  They have kept me busy and proud this year.

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I’m thankful for Hannah, our oldest.  She kept us busy this year graduating from high school and starting college.  We’re excited to have her home this week to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

And I’m thankful for Isaac.  He has also had a year of milestones – his first job, driving, and working on his music and scouting programs.

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Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.  They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.  Psalm 127:3-5

Who are you thankful for this year?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Over and over I marvel at the blessings of my life: Each year has grown better than the last.

Lawrence Welk

Sunday, I introduced the Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition.  This is a tradition our family started 15 years ago, and it has helped ensure we intentionally reflect on God’s provision in our lives over the past year.  To read more about the tradition, click here.

This week, I’ll be sharing the things I’ll be writing on the tablecloth this year.  (Monday, I shared the first thing I’ll be writing on the tablecloth.  Yesterday, I shared the second thing I’ll be writing on the tablecloth.)

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I’m thankful for the people God has put around me this year.  And I’m grateful for the mastermind concept that seems to be part of my life.  Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most with.”  And there are some great people around me these days.

 

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I’m thankful for the Catalyst Mastermind.  This is a group led by my friend, Ellory Wells.  This group of individuals has pushed me to try new things.

I’m thankful for the Stretch Man Mastermind.  This is a group I started in September to help men stretch to become better husbands, better fathers, and better men.  (I’m planning to open up new spots for this group in January.  Let me know if you are interested in talking to me about it.)

I’m thankful for DIBs.  This is a group of men I meet with every Friday morning at 6AM.  We call our self Dudes In the Basement (DIBs), because we meet in the basement at one of the member’s homes.  This group is committed to meeting for the next 20 years, and it’s a place where I am challenged spiritually.

I’m thankful for the Siemens Foundation Leadership Program I attended in April.  Specifically, I’m thankful for a group of Siemens leaders from North and South America who meet with me every other month to help each other become better leaders for Siemens.

And I’m thankful for Toastmasters.  This is a mastermind type of group which has helped me become a better leader and communicator.  Because of my involvement in Toastmasters, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to speak and interact with many people from around the area.

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I thank my God every time I remember you.  Philippians 1:3

What have you been involved with this year that merits your gratitude?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.

Oprah Winfrey

Sunday, I introduced the Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition.  This is a tradition our family started 15 years ago, and it has helped ensure we intentionally reflect on God’s provision in our lives over the past year.  To read more about the tradition, click here.

This week, I’ll be sharing the things I’ll be writing on the tablecloth this year.  (Yesterday, I shared the first thing I’ll be writing on the tablecloth.)

 

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This year, Leanne and I celebrated our 20th Anniversary.  I’m thankful for this milestone.  We were in Guatemala for our actual anniversary, and we took time to celebrate a few weeks early by getting away for a week in Vermont while our kids were in Michigan for CIY.

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I’m thankful for our weekly date nights.  Monday nights we get away for an hour or two, and it’s a great time to reconnect.

I’m thankful for our trip to Vermont.  We had so many opportunities to be refreshed and renewed. Through this adventure.

And I’m thankful for the move towards the “empty nest”.  Our daughter started college in August, and our son is only two years behind her.  We are not trying to push them out, but we are looking forward to time together – just the two of us.  It’s exciting to prepare for this stage of our married lives.

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I’m thankful for Leanne’s recent teaching opportunities.  She finished teaching at Trinity Country Nursery School in May, and she has been substitute teaching at four of the school districts in our area.  Leanne is an amazing teacher, and it’s exciting to see her moving back towards full-time public school teaching.

And finally, I’m thankful for the downsizing process that has begun at our house.  I’m excited about the freedom that will come as we go through this process.img_0306

Stay tuned for Day Three of my Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition reflections.

Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp. Psalm 147:7

Which relationship merits your gratitude this year?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

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If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.

W. Clement Stone

Yesterday, I introduced the Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition.  This is a tradition our family started 15 years ago, and it has helped ensure we intentionally reflect on God’s provision in our lives over the past year.  To read more about the tradition, click here.

This week, I’ll be sharing the things I’ll be writing on the tablecloth this year.

On Sunday, I took time to brainstorm my gratitude using the Lighten (mind mapping) application on my iPad, so I’ll be sharing pictures of my Thank You 2016 mindmap to give you a glimpse into my world.

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I’m thankful for 2 weeks in Guatemala this summer.  Our family traveled to Guatemala to help build three homes and to continue ministry to widows and orphans in the village of Santo Domingo Xenacoj.

 

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I’m thankful for Ann Flynn who joined our team this year.  Besides the medical expertise and humor she brought to the trip, it was refreshing to see Xenacoj through her eyes.  One of my dreams is to bring others with us when we go to Xenacoj.  I want them to experience what we’ve experienced, and I want them to develop a heart for the beautiful people we serve.  Ann’s participation in this year’s trip gave me hope that this will happen.

I’m thankful for safe travels, and I’m thankful for the people who helped us out on either side of our trip with transportation and pet care.

I’m thankful for the 3 houses we helped build.  More importantly, I’m thankful for the opportunity to engage with the families of Dolores, Maria, and Carmen.  I look forward to visiting them when we return again.

I’m thankful for Hillary.  She’s visited Xenacoj several times in the past as part of medical missions trips.  This was our first trip together.  She added a lot to our first week in Guatemala, and I’m thankful for her medical support when Leanne fainted on the construction site the first day.

I’m thankful for my mornings in Guatemala.  Each morning I had the opportunity to spend time on the roof of our residence before anyone else woke up.  This was my opportunity for Rooftop Reflections – a daily video blog of my thoughts.  I also did a lot of reading in the morning.  I read through I and II Thessalonians and The Promise of a Pencil and Start Something That Matters.  Finally, I had the opportunity in the morning to walk the streets of Xenacoj while Hannah ran on ahead.  These morning walks allowed me to suck in the sites, smells, and sounds that come with each morning in this village I love.

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I’m thankful for Hope Haven.  This is where we helped out in their warehouse where they build wheelchairs for people all over the world.  We also participated in a wheelchair basketball game.  (It’s harder than you think.)

I’m thankful for Cruz Ayapan, a small village just outside of Xenacoj.  This village and it’s village are clear reminders that God’s love is needed all over the world and there is still much work to be done.

I’m thankful for our widows walk with German.  It was beautiful to see German’s heart as he ministered to the women in his village who are often forgotten.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to meet with Mario Aquino, the mayor of Xenacoj.  This meeting provided an incredible time to discuss a vision for our involvement in the future.

I’m thankful for the generosity of so many donors who helped make this trip possible.

I’m thankful for Oreo, the dog who we adopted during our trip.  He lived outside our house, and he always greeted us with his expressive tail and ears.

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I’m thankful for protection from witchcraft.  I don’t talk about this a lot, but there were people in the village who weren’t excited to have us there.  I’m thankful we stayed safe during this experience.

I’m thankful for our wonderful translators.  Not only did they help us communicate with the locals, but they became our friends.

And I’m thankful for our visit to Antigua.  This is the tourist village about 40 minutes from Xenacoj.  I’ll always remember the rooftop dinner with our team and the McDonalds date with Leanne while our kids shopped for souvenirs with the rest of our team.0img_0303

Stay tuned for Day Two of my Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition reflections.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.  Psalm 118:1

What did you experience this year that merits your gratitude?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

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I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.

Henry David Thoreau

Across America, people will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week.

Some people will be watching one of the NFL football games televised throughout the day.  Others will watch a Thanksgiving parade.  Many Americans will be gathering with family and friends to eat a traditional Thanksgiving feast.  A few of you may lace up your running shoes or your football cleats for a Thanksgiving 5K or a community Turkey Bowl game.

These are all great traditions.  I know I’m looking forward to spending time with my family and eating the delicious Thanksgiving feast.

Thanksgiving is more than family, food, and football.  Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful.  While we should be thankful all year, Thanksgiving gives us all the opportunity to more intentional in our gratitude.

For the past 15 years, our family has celebrated Thanksgiving with our Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition.

Here’s how it works:

We have a white tablecloth for our Thanksgiving table.  We purchased fabric markers.  Each guest at our Thanksgiving feast traces their hand print on the tablecloth using one of the fabric markers (make sure you put a piece of cardboard under the tablecloth while you are doing this part).  They write their name and the year in the palm of the hand print.  Then each guest writes five things for which they are thankful (one in each finger).  You may want to put a piece of clear plastic over the tablecloth after everyone has finished their hand print.

Each year we pull out the tablecloth, and we read over the hand prints from previous years.  It’s amazing to see God’s provision in our lives over the years.

We are on our 2nd tablecloth.  The tablecloths include names of family members who are no longer with us.  They include the colorful and sloppy handwriting of our youngest family members, and they include the beautiful hand prints from friends who joined us for the Thanksgiving meal.

Over the next week, I’ll be sharing the five things I’ll be writing on my hand print this year.

Start a new tradition this year – The Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition.  Go pickup a tablecloth and some fabric markers.  It’s good to give thanks.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  Psalm 100:4

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?  Why are you thankful this year?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

“You’re sick, and you’re making yourself sick,and you can make yourself unsick by stopping doing what you’re doing.”

Daryl Isaacs from Supersize Me

Sometime between the 1970s and the 1990s, America fastfood chains conducted a “Supersize” Revolution.  Restaurants like McDonalds and Burger King began offering extra large portions of soft drinks and french fries at a “value” price.  And Americans ate it up.  Literally.

People began ordering unnecessary and unhealthy amounts of fries and sodas to make the most of the “deal” being offered by these convenient food chains.

And America’s problem with obesity went to a whole new level.

Many fast food chains have toned down their advertisements related to the “Supersize” Revolution in the wake of health and fitness reports.  They’ve even been offering healthy menu options and smaller portion sizes.  Subway even glamorized their ability to help customers reduce their waste size when they jumped on the Jared bandwagon several years ago.

I go to the gym every morning, and I see people working out.  They’re trying to fight obesity and get in better shape just like me.

It all looks good on the surface, but there is still a problem which goes much deeper than the waist line.

Americans (just like me) are caught up in the pursuit of bigger, better, and just plain more.

I’m guilty of it, and I’m guessing many of you are too.  We may not be “supersizing” our food consumption, but we’re busy trying to “supersize” our lives.  We want more.  We want the best.  We want the biggest.  And we definitely want to keep up with the Jones’ (or even surpass them).  (Nothing personal if you happen to be a Jones.)

Eleven years ago, our family moved one mile away to “supersize” our house.  We went from a 1,200 square feet single floor ranch house to a 3,600 square feet two-story “mansion.”  We have also “super sized” our cars over the years going from a Toyota Corolla and Ford Taurus to mini-vans and SUVs.  We purchased bigger “super sized” furntiture to go in our “super sized” house.

And it hasn’t stopped at material items.

We’ve “super sized” our lives by making sure we are involved in every activity and organization under the sun.  From Boy Scouts to jazz band, from Toastmasters to masterminds, from MomsConnect to H.O.P.E., and from cross-country to Chick-Fil-A, our family is maxed out on activities.

Does this sound anything like your experience in life?

How does your “Supersize” life make you feel?

Here’s how I’m feeling.

I’m exhausted.  I’m worn out.  I feel like I’ve gone 15 rounds with Apollo Creed.

I feel like I have way more than I can handle, and it’s time to make some changes.

This is where it gets scary for me.

I hate saying “No”.  I hate giving in.  I’m not a quitter.  And I don’t want to let people down.

It’s not too late for you or for me.  We can decide today to end the “Supersize” Revolution in our own lives.  We can even start are own “Downsize” Revolution.

4 Ways to  Join the “Downsize” Revolution

  1. “Downsize” your calendar.  Take time to purge some of the things on your calendar.  Before you sign-up for another commitment, take a hard look at your current list of commitments.  Decide what is really important, and start getting rid of the rest.  As you head into the holidays and the new year, be intentional about freeing up your time.  You need this time to live, to relax, to focus, and to breathe.
  2. “Downsize” your stuff.  Get rid of the junk that’s clogging your closets, your basement, your garage, and your tool shed.  Sell stuff.  Give stuff away.  And throw away the stuff you simply do not need anymore.  By purging your possessions, you will have more opportunity to enjoy the things you have and the people who mean the most to you.
  3. “Downsize” your relationships.  Don’t make enemies, and don’t disown those around you.  Simply spend more time with the people who mean the very most to you.  Too often, the people who most deserve our attention get our leftovers, because we are too relationally burned out because we hung out with other people too much.
  4. “Downsize” your residence.  Seriously, do you need that four bedroom, three bathroom collosal home?  Imagine for a second the possibilities created by downsizing your house.  Your mortgage could shrink (or even go away).  Your tax bill and your utility bills will decrease.  Your upkeep expenses and upkeep time will dramatically decrease.  You’ll suddenly discover more money to live, to give, and to save.

Our family is embarking on a “Downsize” Revolution.  Will you join us?

By “downsizing”, we’ll be able to “supersize” the things that matter the most in our lives.

What steps do you need to take to “downsize”?  In what areas do you need to “supersize” your life?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.

Carl Jung

Today is my wife’s birthday.

When gift shopping for my wife, I try to get her something she wants, something she needs, something to wear, and something to read.  One of her gifts from me this year was a brand new pair of brown boots.  (This kind of fits into two categories – something she wants and something to wear.)

When I she opened them tonight, I told her I couldn’t try them on as my feet were too big.

I laughed at my typically corny comment.  I’m not sure she appreciated my comment as much as I did, but I’m learning to accept this about my wife.

As I was thinking more about the comment, I realized that there is so much to gain by learning from the perspective of others.  How often do we find ourselves in some sort of disagreement, misunderstanding, or fight because we have failed to put ourselves in the shoes of others?

I genuinely try to live this way, but I fail too many times.  It’s hard to relate to others when we don’t really take time to understand where they are coming from in their lives.  What experiences from their past are influencing their present?  What hurts, pains, and scars impact how they go about life?

As I observe the present climate in the week following the election, I’m seeing our culture is suffering from this same problem.  People are protesting, fighting, and spewing all kinds of hate towards one another.  In all likelihood, they really don’t understand the person or people they are protesting.

And on the other hand, many of us are likely to dismiss the protestors as being misguided instead of taking time to understand why they are so frustrated.

I think this world might be a much better place if we all took a little time to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.

When we take time to ask questions, to listen, and to withhold our judgements, we might actually find some commonground on which we can base our relationships.

As we head into the unknown of tomorrow, let’s take time to try on someone else’s shoes.  Let’s do what we can to build a better world for tomorrow regardless of how we voted.

Who’s shoes do you need to try on first?  Who do you simply not understand?  What is one thing you can do to gain a better understanding of their perspectxive?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

Voltaire

Tonight, I had the honor of attending the Annual Awards Dinner for my company where employees are recognized for their years of service to the company.  This year, I celebrated my 20th year with Siemens (actually, we were Landis & Gyr Powers when I started).

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years.

And I really appreciated the opportunity to applaud others who were there to celebrate their 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 30th, or 35th year with the company.

We need to remember to stop and recognize those around us who have shown up every day – the people who keep things going in our lives.

A thank you goes a long way.

Who do you need to thank?  And how are you going to go about showing your appreciation to someone who deserves it?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Where Is Your Trust?

November 9, 2016 — 1 Comment

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,  but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Psalm 20:7

Facebook (and other social media channels) has been littered with posts bashing the candidates, prophesying doom, and destroying any hope of unity our country might have had.  People are protesting the election results in cities all over the country.

I’m thankful we live in a country where people have the right to freedom of speech, but I’m also reminded of the words of James – “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”

I was not thrilled with either of the two major party candidates this year (which may give you a small indication of how I did or didn’t vote), but I’m a firm believer that God is still in control, that I’m called to pray for our leaders, and that I can be part of the change I’d like to see in this world.

As “brothers and sisters in Christ” pronounce doom and gloom on the world in the wake of the election results, I challenge all of us to remember where our allegiance lies.  And I challenge all of us to be unifiers instead of dividers – bridge builders instead of wall builders – and people of action instead of people who simply voice our disgust without taking any positive steps forward.

Some trust in chariots, some trust in horses, some trust in presidents, some trust in their jobs, some trust in their bosses, some trust in their retirement accounts.

Me?

I trust in the name of the Lord my God.

I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but I know who holds my future.  It’s not Donald Trump.  It’s not Hillary Clinton.

Where is your trust?