I’ve experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows. I think to really appreciate anything you have to be at both ends of the spectrum.
John Elway

Yesterday was full of highs and lows.

I got to spend the early morning with a group of men for our weekly get together.  This was a high.

I visited a friend in the hospital.

I made it to the gym for 4.5 miles on the treadmill.  For me, this was another high.

We received word that a friend was struggling and in need of healing.  This was a low.

Our family took a 5 mile hike and Evansburg State Park on a beautiful day.  Yes, this was a high.

We had to put our 13-year-old lab (Iso) down last night.  This was really tough.  We will greatly miss him.

Life is full of highs and lows.  The highs lift us up, and the lows force us to reflect.  There will be more highs and more lows in the days, weeks, and years ahead, and this is okay.

When it seems like life is all over the place, it’s important to remember that God is constant.  His love for us never changes.  And His mercies never come to an end.

As I reflect on an up and down day, I am thankful for the opportunity to experience life – even though it hurts sometimes.

Good Friday

April 14, 2017 — Leave a comment

“Christ has not only spoken to us by his life but has also spoken for us by his death.”

Soren Kierkegaard

Today Christians around the world will be taking time to remember the crucifiction of Jesus Christ.  Many people refer to this day as Good Friday.  Crucifiction doesn’t sound all that “Good” to me.  It involves being tied or nailed to a set of wooden timbers until you die.  Without going into a lot of detail here, it safe to say that crucifiction is horrific.

And yet, there is something amazingly “Good” about Jesus’ crucifiction over 2000 years ago.  His crucifiction paved the way for our atonement – our forgiveness of sins.  He sacrificed His life so we wouldn’t be subjects to the full penalty of our sin.

We sometimes forget that we are sin, and our sin separates us from God.  God is holy.  Our dirtiness (or sinfulness) must be cleansed in order for us to stand before our holy God.  Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross redeemed and restored us and allows us to stand before God.  That is truly “Good.”  And it’s the reason we should celebrate not just today but every day.

May you have a great Good Friday!

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.  Ephesians 1:7

“I’d like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I’d like to hold it in my arms
And keep it company”

The New Seekers

I want to have a BIG impact on the world!

I want to put a stop to bullying.

I want to see an end to all illnesses brought on as a result of poor water quality.

I want to build a house for every widow in need.

I want to provide homes, hopes, and father figures for all the orphans in the world.

And I want there to be peace on earth – all over the earth!

It seems like I want a lot of things.  And these things seem so overwhelming when I start thinking about them.  After all, how can one person fix all of this?

I was talking to my Dad the other day on the way home from work, and we started talking about the desire to make the world a better place.  We also talked about the GIGANTIC goals that some people seem to put down to solve the worlds problems.  I think it’s good to dream big, but I also think it’s important to think small.

I truly want to build one hundred houses (or more) for widows in Guatemala.  One hundred houses don’t happen all at once, and they certainly don’t happen my accident.

One hundred houses starts one house at a time.  And one house starts one nail at a time.

Deep down inside, I know you want to change the world.  You want to make a real lasting difference that will outlive you.  In order to make this kind of impact on the world, we must learn to take one step at a time.

Andy Stanley is known for saying “Do for one what you wish you could do for everything.”

Don’t let your big dreams overwhelm you.  Start small, and take one step at a time.

One more thing.  Don’t wait for the PERFECT time to start.  Get started right now!

What small step do you need to take RIGHT NOW to make the world a better place?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

A sounding board is a good listener, and either confirms what they hear or offers an opinion when the sound they hear is “off key”.

Urban Dictionary

Yesterday was a busy day at the office.  I spent most of the day reviewing a project our sales team is trying to get.  In these cases, my job is to make sure the sales team has included the right amount of labor in their estimates, and I check to see if they’ve considered different aspects of the project that might come up as the project moves from start to finish.  In a way, I am a sounding board for our sales team to make sure they go into a project with our best feet forward.

After I finished reviewing the job, I made it back to my desk for a few minutes before heading over to the office of one of my co-workers.  I needed to touch base with him on a small issue, and we hadn’t had time to talk all day.  As we finished talking about my issue, he asked if he could run something by me.  Without going into details, he was wrestling with an issue, and he was trying to figure out how to address it.

We talked about the possible outcomes based on the different ways he could proceed.  I did some of the talking, but he did a lot of talking.  At the end of the conversation, he had settled on a path forward.  I think he knew the right answer all along, but he needed a sounding board.

You and I need people in our lives who will listen to us and give us feedback along the way.  We need sounding boards.

One of the things I love about being in mastermind groups is that I get to use the group as a sounding board and they get to use me as a sounding board.  The people in the group listen to my issues, and they give me feedback.  Ultimately, they help me get to an answer to move me forward.  I get the opportunity to do the same for the other members in the group.

If you are wrestling with questions about how to become a better husband, a better father, or a better man, you should consider signing up for the Stretched Men Group.  This is a mastermind group that I facilitate that helps men takes the next step or two in their journey.  If you need a sounding board, this might just be the group for you.

To find out more about the group, visit stretchedmengroup.com.  After looking at the site, sign up for a free (no obligation, no pressure) call with me to see if this group is right for you.

The Stretched Men Group has made a big difference for several men and their families, and I’m getting ready to launch the next semester (3 month commitment).

You need a sounding board!  Why not get one TODAY!

Who is your sounding board?  How has your sounding board helped you to move forward?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Life is Fragile

April 11, 2017 — 2 Comments

“Life is fragile. We’re not guaranteed a tomorrow so give it everything you’ve got.”

Tim Cook

My typical weekend writing was interrupted by a variety of circumstances.

First, our house is for sale, and we had a showing at our house on Sunday night after church.   We had two piles of mulch and garden soil on the driveway that needed to be moved to our flower beds and garden.  Plus, we had to make our final trips around the house making sure everything was clean before we left for church.  I missed my normal Sunday morning writing time to move mulch and dirt and to clean up the house.

Second, our weekend was altered by the tragic news that a young teenage girl from our church group had taken her life.

This news has brought about a lot of questions, pondering, and conversation.  It also brought sadness.

There are many details surrounding her suicide, and I’m grappling with what I need to know as an adult volunteer in our youth program and as a parent of fellow students and what I simply don’t need to know about the situation.

Last night during our normal youth group programming, we had over 300 students (my estimation) pour into our auditorium to be together, to grieve, and to celebrate the life of their friend and classmate.  The time together was a mix of sadness and amazing beauty.

There was singing, stories, and plenty of tears.

My heart aches for the young students who are faced with the loss of a peer and the struggle to sort out their own thoughts and feelings.

I’m reminded of the importance of listening to those in pain.  I’m reminded of how essential it is to be a presence in the lives of others.  And I’m reminded to be aware of the silent cries of those who simply don’t know how to process the struggles of life.

The weekend also served as a reminder of the amazing volunteers in our youth program.  Many of the volunteers took off from work on Friday to be with students on Friday when the news spread of her passing.  Don’t underestimate the value of your role in the lives of those who are younger than you.

The weekend also reminded me that there are times when we won’t fully understand parts of this life we find ourselves in on this side of heaven.  Sometimes life simply doesn’t make sense.

Finally, the weekend reminded me that beauty can rise from the ashes that follows such tragedy.  Relationships can be repaired.  People can take steps toward reconciliation.  And ultimately, people can find God when events like this happen.

Pray for the family and friends of this young woman.

Be on the look out for those who are hurting around you.

If you are desperate, hurting, and lonely, find someone to lean on.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

Desmond Tutu

This morning, I spilled my coffee (decaf of course) all over my left shoe and the parking lot as I was heading into the place where I was going to be writing.

Friday afternoon, I started feeling the onset of a cold.  By this weekend, the cold was in full swing.

My wife and I have had our house on the market for nearly 3 months, and it hasn’t sold yet.

Work has been extremely busy lately, and it seems like we don’t have the resources to execute on what our sales department sold.

I have been exchanging messages with a friend in Guatemala about a widow who is facing a challenging situation regarding her housing situation.

I don’t mean to sound depressing, but sometimes life can be challenging.  In fact, there are things happening around us everyday that can lead to discouragement.

I don’t know what is happening in your life right now.  Things may be perfect, but I suspect you are facing challenges too.

As I was spending time this morning in God’s Word, I came across this passage from Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen it eternal.

This is what it means to have HOPE!

We will face junk in our lives.  This is part of the earthly experience ever since sin entered the world.  But despair and hopelessness is not the final answer.

As we approach Easter, it’s a great time to remember the HOPE we have – a HOPE that lasts – a HOPE that breaks through the spilled coffee, the common cold, the unsold houses, the challenging work situations, and even the immediate needs of a widow and her family in Guatemala.

In the midst of your challenges and despair, I pray you’ll know this HOPE.

Don’t lose heart!

The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him.  Nahum 1:7

Share your thoughts in the comments.

 

We take in so much information throughout the week.  If we don’t review this information from time to time, we’ll forget it.  I want to make the most of the things that stretched me this week.  This starts by taking note of the things I come across each week.  Then it takes intentional time to review these notes.  Finally, great information is meant to be shared.  Here are some of the things that stretched me this week:

Quotes that stretched me this week:

“If God wanted us to fly, He would have given us tickets.”  Mel Brooks [via Manlio Mannozzi]

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”Archilochus [via Entreprenuer.com]

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.  You wait and watch and work – you don’t give up.”Anne Lamott [via Entreprenuer.com]

“We need to watch out for the resistance that will wnat us to stay in the past, trying to collect a debt that will never be paid.”  Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud [via Forgiveness Reading Plan – YouVersion.com]

“Christ’s love and grace will not produce guilt or shame, but it will fill us [with] a feeling of great responsibility.”  Maile Smucker [via ShawnSmucker.com]

“To the extent that we surrender our tendencies to condemn others, and are able instead to forgive, we will experience the fullness of forgiveness from God.”  Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud [via Forgiveness Reading Plan – YouVersion.com]

“Being present is better than trying to be everywhere else.”  Leslie Samuel [via BecomeABlogger.com]

“if you have two coats, one of them belongs to the poor.”  Dorothy Day [via BrianJones.com]

“When doing public ministry, you need more private time with the Lord.”  Sean McFeely

“If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you.  If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.”  Zig Ziglar [via Dictionary.com]

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  Dr. Seuss [via Dictionary.com]

“[An attitude of forgiveness] releases us from a life of keeping emotional scorecards and insisting that everything be fair and leads to a life of love, grace, freedom, and forgiveness.”  Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud [via Forgiveness Reading Plan – YouVersion.com]

“To forgive is very difficult.  It means letting go of something that someone “owes” us.  But forgiveness brings freedom from the past; it brings freedom from anyone who has hurt us.  To forgive means to write it off.  Let it go.  Tear up the account.  It is to render the account cancelled.”  Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud [via Forgiveness Reading Plan – YouVersion.com]

“If you don’t take the first step, you’ll never get to the second step.”  Zig Ziglar

“Forgiveness through Jesus’ death is God’s solution; it rescues us from our hopelessness and restores our connection with God.”  Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud [via Forgiveness Reading Plan – YouVersion.com]

“Eat a live from first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”  Mark Twain

Scripture that stretched me this week:

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.  Hebrews 6:10

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  Psalm 18:2

“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”  Matthew 16:26

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.  Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.  Psalm 116:1-2

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.  Mercy triumphs over judgment.  James 2:12-13

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  Matthew 5:43-44

“‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Revelation 21:4

What I’m reading now:

Eat That Frog!  by Brian Tracy

Articles that challenged me:

What Is A Mastermind? (And What It Isn’t) by Ellory Wells

What Is A “Hot Seat” In A Mastermind Group? by Ellory Wells

Great Responsibility: Maile’s Thoughts on Intervening After Seeing a Mother Hit Her Little Girl by Maile Smucker [at ShawnSmucker.com]

If you are looking to STRETCH yourself, sign up for the 7 Week Stretch Challenge.  It’s FREE!

What STRETCHED you this week?  Share your observations and thoughts in the comments below.

Hope Rises With The Dawn

March 27, 2017 — 2 Comments

We take in so much information throughout the week.  If we don’t review this information from time to time, we’ll forget it.  I want to make the most of the things that stretched me this week.  This starts by taking note of the things I come across each week.  Then it takes intentional time to review these notes.  Finally, great information is meant to be shared.  Here are some of the things that stretched me this week:

Quotes that stretched me this week:

“There is a right and a wrong in the universe, and that distinction is not hard to make.”  Superman [via DeliberateDads.com]

“We can be sure our prayers are answered precisely in the way we would want them to be answered if we knew everything God knows.”Tim Keller [via JeffRandleman.com]

“Nothing promotes reconciliation more than forgiveness.  To forgive someone means to let him or her off the hook or to cancel a debt owed.  When we refuse to forgive someone, we still want something from that person, and even if it is revenge that we want, it keeps us tied to the person forever.”Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud [via Forgiveness Reading Plan – YouVersion.com]

Scripture that stretched me this week:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27

What I’m reading now:

No Excuses!  The Power of Self-Discipline  by Brian Tracy

Videos that stretched me:

 

Articles that challenged me:

How To Really Support Your Church by Jason Raitz

Articles I posted this week:

Are You Intentionally Busy?

If you are looking to STRETCH yourself, sign up for the 7 Week Stretch Challenge.  It’s FREE!

What STRETCHED you this week?  Share your observations and thoughts in the comments below.

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”

Thomas A. Edison

Being busy has become a status symbol in our culture.  If you’re not busy, you’re not accomplishing anything.  That’s what society is telling us.

What do you want to accomplish today?

I want to work on my book.  I want to schedule several blog posts and emails to the people on my email list.  I would like to talk to my daughter (who is away at college) on Facetime.  I’d like to take at least 10,000 steps.

What do you want to accomplish this week?

I want to write and give my next Toastmasters speech.  I want to schedule an appointment with my tax accountant.  I would like to clean up the house to make sure we are ready for any showings that might happen this week.  I’d like to meet one-on-one with my team members.

What do you want to accomplish this year?

I want to publish my next book (Rooftop Reflections).  I plan to go to Guatemala and build more houses.  I’d like to complete my Advanced Communicator Silver and my Advanced Leader Silver for Toastmasters.  I would like to move up at my company.  I plan to complete Dynamic Marriage Facilitator Training with my wife.  I hope to sell my house and downsize.

It’s not a bad idea to have plans for our days weeks, months, and years.  After all, “if we fail to plan, we should plan to fail.”  But what if our short-term goals and accomplishments don’t match up with our long-term objectives?

What does success look like to you?  When you reach the end of your life what do you want to have accomplished?

I think these are two very important questions to ponder.  And we need to have the answers to these questions in mind as we plan out our short-term goals and our plans for the next days, weeks, and months.

You will not succeed in meeting your long-term (life-time) goals by accident.  You must be intentional.  You must begin with the end in mind.

Here are a few of my long-term goals:

  1. I’m going to build 100+ houses in Guatemala for widows and orphans.
  2. My wife and I are going to be known as marriage builders.
  3. I will have deep relationships with my wife, my kids, my future grandchildren, and a few close friends.
  4. I will be known as a good steward, a generous person, and a role model.
  5. I will mentor other leaders, couples, and men in order to leave a legacy that outlives me and my name.

These are just some of my goals.  Knowing these, I’m in a much better position to answer the initial questions asked at the beginning of this post.

Being busy is a complete waste of time when we are busy doing the wrong things.  Be intentional in your busyness!

Over the next few days, I’ll be sending out additional information to those on my email list about living intentionally today.  If you want to get these emails, make sure you are on the list.  Sign up below!

What are you doing today?  How do your actions today match up with your long-term plans for your life?  Share your thoughts in the comments.