Simple things

haircut

For the last 8 years, giving our son a haircut has been a struggle. He detests it. The cut hair falling on his face and everywhere else overloads his senses. My wife and I have tried many things to divert his attention with minimal success. We’ve also honed our cutting skills, so that it takes less and less time to complete the job. Still, he’s irritated and irritable every time we have to cut his hair.

Until last night. He had been growing his hair out (thereby by-passing the need for a haircut). It grew too long for him and he needed it to be cut. He sat on the stool and did not complain while I used the clippers to give him his traditional hairstyle back. No complaints. No harsh words. No antsy movements and whining “Are you done yet?” Nothing. It was fantastic! When he was done, he took a shower to get all of the hair off of him. He exclaimed while showering that he had gotten so used to “thick hair” that having his hair cut like this was “amazing!”

Driving into work today I was thinking about this whole episode last night. Honestly, it was nothing short of miraculous. Sometimes God works in mysterious ways, like parting the Red Sea. Sometimes He works in more apparent ways. That was the case last night with my son’s haircut. Thank you Lord for simple things. Amen!

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Confronting my own self-doubt

irish steps sunrise

For the last two weeks I have really been down in the dumps. I’ve been put face to face with the questions of “Who I am?” and “What kind of person do I want to be?”. I haven’t been certain how to answer these questions in a way that leads to a positive result until today.

The backstory

In my job, I was told that I just didn’t have the creativity and passion in my writing on an assignment that it was thought that I should have. I just didn’t bring it. And the person that told me that was dead on. She said she was “on my side” and telling me this as an ally. I appreciated that. I just couldn’t produce at a high level. She reminded me that how good or bad the end result is depends entirely on the work that is put in in the trenches.

I have absolutely no formal coaching training. I have a passion for the sport of soccer and I think I have some skill for coaching. Or at least I thought I did, until a parent told me that I deliberately created two tournament teams with 100 percent unfair rosters, leading to one team that was destined to lose. That wasn’t the way to coach and create a positive and encouraging environment, this parent said. Although the other volunteer coach and I did not agree with her, I took a step back to see the argument from her perspective. It gave me the opportunity to reevaluate how and why I volunteer coach.

Just as I was thankful for the advice of the person at my office, so too was I thankful for that opportunity to examine my coaching philosophy.

Fast forward to today

Today rolled around and I took stock of these things. What I realized is that God played a central role in all of this. These two weeks were a valley that He was leading me through. It was an opportunity for introspection. I am thankful to God for the opportunity. It wasn’t easy. It really made me question who I was and what I was doing.

This is the great thing that became crystal clear to me today: These struggles have strengthened my faith in Him. He is my rock and my strength. God is there no matter what and he sent these messengers into my life to challenge me because I was becoming complacent. He also showed me the people in my life that really care about me and will stand up for me in times of need. I needed that. I need Him.

Discouraged

img_2606This week has been one of the most discouraging weeks I’ve had in a long time.

From Monday on, life did everything it could to bring in to question what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, why I’m doing it, and if I should stop doing it. It was rough, to say the least.

This discouragement made me question my role as a husband, a father, a coach, etc. It made me question if it was even worth it anymore.

I was low.

Yet, all around me, God was there. He sent me encouraging messages. He made it known that the valley I was walking through would end if I followed Him. There really was light at the end of the tunnel.

Before, I don’t think I would have realized all that He was doing in my life. But now I do, and as I write this, the discouraged feeling that was squarely stuck in my mind for the entirety of the week is gone. It is replaced with a peace and understanding that God is Great. God is my strength in times of discouragement. He is positive. He is encouraging.

So, when you get down, look up. He is there. He will listen. He is love and He will shoulder your concerns. He is a good father. He is someone I want to be like. And that is certainly a most encouraging thought!

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Forward

looking-back-looking-forward

The faith-based weight loss plan said “God is a forward thinking and acting God.”

I sat there thinking: “That’s remarkable.”

Diving in further, I realized the author was 100 percent correct in saying that “To receive real comfort and move forward, you have to let the false comforts go. Simple as that.”

Simple indeed. But, surprisingly, it is. All we have to do is change to experience change.

We have to move forward in Him, move forward in Jesus. That’s what it says in John 8:31-32. For the first time, I understand this. The freedom Jesus talks about is a freedom from the despair, fear, emotional pain, anxiety, habitual sins, etc. that plague those of us who put our trust in the world, instead of in Him.

By accepting the teachings of Jesus as truth, we are free to live a life that is positive and encouraging. By having strong faith and doing good deeds, we are breaking the chains of worldly bondage that have held us back.

I think that this movement forward is a journey, a step-by-step type process that is one of discovery. It has been for me. A a result, I have confidence in knowing that I will get there because I believe in Him and know He is supporting me throughout.

It may seem odd at first, but just think about how awesome it is that God forgives us as He moves forward. The past is just that – the past. Today is a new day and we have a new opportunity to deepen our relationship with Jesus. In so doing we are working to make ourselves better people inside and out.

Moving forward like this, we change and experience change. Moving forward like this, we will get there!

 

Reminder

Today the sun is shining. The temperatures are milder, less frigid. And my mind turns to how being positive and encouraging toward others impacts the individual.

My son reminded us last night about the “golden rule” and how much doing unto others as you, yourself would like to be treated is such a great way to live life. Then this morning, I heard a radio commercial from AAA about how to curb road rage by driving your car the same way you would treat people during your daily life. Basically, you wouldn’t go crazy if someone cut in the receiving line at a wedding reception, but you would in your car if some one cut you off on the road. The whole idea is to take a deep breath, exhale, and move forward without anger/resentment.

Be positive. Be encouraging. That is what those reminders and the one I read about in Psalm 37:21-31 said to me. I am reminded that although we all stumble and fall, the Lord our God upholds us in His hand. We matter to Him. I matter to God. That is such an awesome thing to know! And because of that, I know that although I may struggle in my life, He encourages me that I might overcome those struggles and live my life in a way that reflects His love for me and honors His name.

Positive & Encouraging Change in 2016

2016. What will it hold for us? That is the excitement of the new year. Yet, any day can be a “new” day. Any day can be a transitional and transformational one that sets us down a new road. All we need to do is realize and accept change. For many of us, doing so is difficult. It is for me.

outcome determines outlook

I read this quote yesterday and it really gave me a strong push to move forward with the resolutions I had been mulling over in my head. I’ve written them down and I am making them public.

2016. I am accepting change this year. I am resolving to:

  • Build a stronger relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
  • Be more positive and encouraging in all aspects of my life
  • Build stronger, more positive relationships with my wife and kids
  • Change my physical appearance by exercising more and eating better, with a goal of weighing 40 pounds less by my 40th birthday
  • Write a book by the time I am 40
  • Tie up any “loose ends” with people who were once a part of my life and now no longer are

What are your resolutions? How have you changed your outlook to change your outcome for 2016? Feel free to answer in the comments and have a happy, safe and blessed New Year!