Friday, September 30, 2011


Below are the top 5 posts for the month of September.

  5. TODAY
If you don't blog, you should. There is power in committing your thoughts to paper. 

As I approach this weekend and beginning a new month, a couple of thoughts come to mind:
  • If you have a Kindle and don't check out's Kindle Deal of the Day, you should. They offer one Kindle book a day at a deep discount. Most of the books are sold from $.99 to $1.99. I've bought several excellent books very cheaply. Click here to visit the Kindle Deal of the Day.
  • I just finished Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer. This is probably my favorite book of 2011. If you are interested in memory, you should check it out. This is not a "dry" read at all.
  • The next book that I plan to read is Seth Godin's We Are All Weird. This is another short manifesto from one of the influential thinkers of our time. 
  • Many people from our church are going to see Courageous at the movies this weekend. If you've not seen the trailer, you can check it out here.
  • The weather is supposed to be beautiful this weekend in Baton Rouge. I hope it is wherever you are.
  • I hope you are doing something meaningful this weekend. Go out into the world and make a difference or stay at home and make a difference with your family. Either way...make a difference this weekend!
QUESTION: If you blog, what was your favorite blog post of the month? If you don't blog, did you read a favorite blog post this month?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


"Now you know the rest of the story."
~Paul Harvey 

I love stories. The most engaging speakers and communicators are masters at teaching through the use of stories.

The same well-crafted story can hold meaning simple enough for a child to understand or complex enough to challenge adults. Jesus did this often with His use of parables.

StoryCorps is an interesting website. Below is the description from their website:
StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 30,000 interviews from more than 60,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to our weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and on our Listen pages.
We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, strengthen and build the connections between people, teach the value of listening, and weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that every life matters. At the same time, we will create an invaluable archive of American voices and wisdom for future generations.
In addition to loving stories, I love kids. I have the great fortune of working each and every day with second and third graders as the assistant principal at an elementary school. If you want to fill your heart with joy, spend a day with elementary kids.

I ran across the video below on StoryCorps a while back and wanted to share. As the notes on YouTube explain, ”Joshua Littman, a 12-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome, interviews his mother, Sarah. Joshua’s unique questions and Sarah’s loving, unguarded answers reveal a beautiful relationship that reminds us of the best – and the most challenging – parts of being a parent.”

This is a touching and uplifting 4-minute video.

QUESTION: What is one of your favorite childhood stories? Please leave comments below.

Monday, September 26, 2011


"If you have a goal in life that takes a lot of energy, that requires a lot of work, that incurs a great deal of interest and that is a challenge to you, you will always look forward to waking up to see what the new day brings."
~Susan Polis Schultz

Seven Clubs by Tim Ellis

There is one question for which you should always have a ready answer: What am I doing to grow?

One aspect of intentional living is personal development. This is separate from setting family goals, career goals, financial goals, etc. We should always be working on self-improvement.

The answer to this question should be a deeply personal one. This is not about impressing others or striving to grow in an area that someone else believes we should improve upon.

This is all about growing as a person. If you are confused on personal development goals, below are some examples:

- learning to play the piano
- training to run a 5k
- writing a blog
- reading a specific book
- completing a project around the house
- starting an eBay business

I can’t define your personal development goal, because it has to be something that grabs your heart.

As we begin a new week, my hope for you today is that you can quickly and definitively answer the question: What am I doing to grow?

If you can answer that question, then go and make progress today. The world is waiting on you.

If you can’t answer that question, you have some work to do. Sure, we all have obligations, but don’t forget that when you are learning and at your best then you are better able to be “there” for those you love.

QUESTION: What are YOU doing to grow? Please leave comments below.

Friday, September 23, 2011


"To awaken each morning with a smile brightening my face; to greet the day with reverence for the opportunities it contains; to approach my work with a clean mind; to hold ever before me, even in the doing of little things, the ultimate purpose toward which I am working; to meet men and women with laughter on my lips and love in my heart; to be gentle, kind, and courteous through all the hours; to approach the night with weariness that ever woos sleep and the joy that comes from work well done - this is how I desire to waste wisely my days."
~Thomas Dekker

Sunrise and the Boat by Henri Bergius

Late yesterday afternoon, I went for a walk in my neighborhood. My wife, Aimie, was at a school function so I was by myself. As I walked, this crazy sense of peace and excitement and joy and contentment (all at once) just washed over me.

The sky was blue with orange-tinted clouds. The air was slightly cool and the birds were chirping. I even saw the owl that I usually hear, but can never find.

I've talked about magic moments before, but that's what it was. It was just one of those moments that you hold onto and wish that it would not end.

Have you had a moment like that recently? It won't happen by sitting on the couch watching TV or reading Facebook or surfing the internet. It might happen when we open our heart to another person or go outside or take our mind off of ourself.

As you walk through today and the weekend, I want to challenge you to seek out those fleeting moments of joy that sometimes appear without a warning. Don't try to hold onto it too long - let it run its course. If we try to hold onto it too tightly, it will leave all the more quickly.

I recently came across the quote above. I need to write it down and keep it with me for a while. There is much truth about living each day contained in that quote.

Now...go, and live today fully. Embrace your story and live it for all it's worth.

May you "waste wisely" today.

QUESTION: I love the changing of seasons - it's a renewal of sorts. What is your favorite season?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


"Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility. "
~Saint Augustine

Hope by Jens Auer

I read and cut out the following story from Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family bulletin in December of 2000. This is a great story about humility and seeing things as they truly are.
In Proceedings, the official magazine of the Naval Institute, Frank Koch reported on a very unusual encounter at sea.

A battleship had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather. Shortly after the sun went down, the lookout reported a light in the distance, so the captain had the signalman send a message: "We are on a collision course. Advise you change course 20 degrees."

Minutes later a signal came back: "Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees."

The captain angrily ordered that another signal be sent: "I'm a captain. Change course 20 degrees."

Again came the reply: "I'm a seaman, second class. You had better change course 20 degrees."

Furious by this point, the captain barked a final threat. "I'm a battleship! Change course 20 degrees!"

The signal came back: "I'm a lighthouse."

The captain changed his course.

I don't care how big and powerful a person may become; it's foolhardy to ignore the beacons that warn us of danger. They take various forms: symptoms of health problems, prolonged marital conflict, rebellious children, excessive debt, stress that ties us in knots. These are the warning signs of approaching danger. It matters not that we're successful, influential, and busy.

When a seaman, second class, sits in a lighthouse somewhere and signals, "Change your course," the wise captain does so with haste.
QUESTION:  Why do we miss so many of the "lighthouses" in our lives? Please post comments below.

Monday, September 19, 2011


One of the best-selling books in the 1980s was M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled. In this book, the first line reads: “Life is difficult.”

How do you like that for an opening sentence?

Beginning in the next sentence, the author further explains the statement:
"It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters."

Window Frame by David Master

One key to living an intentional life is embracing our story – whatever that story is. Although I know that life is difficult, I also know that life is good. When we spend days, months, and years wishing for a different story, we miss the life that is being written for us.

When I talk about embracing our story, I am referring to the circumstances in our life that are out of our control. Many of the situations that we face in our life are of our own choosing. Some are not. 

Today I’m talking about those circumstances that we wish we could change and, for whatever reason, we cannot. Examples that come to mind are ones such as disease, loss of a loved one, disabilities, infertility, and other circumstances that we just can’t really explain.

As I reflect on embracing my story, four thoughts come to mind:

1. Consciously embrace your story daily.
A while back, I wrote about Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great. In this book he talks about the Stockdale Paradox. The Stockdale Paradox is about facing the facts of your current reality and believing that you will prevail in the end (read more about this idea here).
Our story is our story. We can deny it, try to suppress it, or go into depression because of what it is. But whatever we choose to do, it is still there.

Our story is unique. To live fully, we must embrace our story.
2. Realize there may not be an answer for why your story is written the way it is – stop trying to figure it out.
We must stop trying to figure out why we have been chosen for our particular story. I remember hearing NBC news anchor John Chancellor give this quote when he was faced with life-threatening cancer: “If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans.”
That quote almost paints God as one who scoffs at our troubles and I do not believe this is His response. But, as a Christian, I fully believe that God has no obligation whatsoever to explain to me why I have been given a particular story.

When I listen to preachers or Christians who talk of the prosperity Gospel, I just cringe. There are numerous stories in the Bible of Christian men and women who faced incredible struggles and challenges. How do we explain their story? I don’t think we do. I think we have to stop trying to figure out WHY our story is happening and just do our best to embrace it. Part of trusting God is believing that He will redeem our story – whether in this lifetime or another.
3. Stop looking at other people’s story.
This is the most insidious temptation when living our story. We look at others and think, “if only…” This is the quickest way to deny our story and live a bitter, hurtful life.
Every single person faces their own challenges – it’s a human condition. The temptation is always available to look at other people and desire what they have. But, we must fight this desire.

Daily thankfulness is the only way to battle this hunger to look at other people’s story. When we are obsessing with other people’s stories, we should take some time to list the things that we are thankful for in our own lives. Maybe we aren’t exactly where we would desire to be; but, again, we can live in a place of bitterness or we can choose to embrace our story and look at the blessings that we have.
4. Add the next chapter to your story.
Embracing our story means that we know the last chapter has not been written. Although we may not be able to control circumstances, we can always choose our attitude and envision a compelling future.

If you are a Christian, the Bible says that if we take our struggles and challenges to the very end (even death), we still have a hope. Our life is not about what happens during this lifetime. We will have an eternity to look into the face of God.

It hurts me to think that people exist in this world who do not have the hope of Jesus Christ. I don’t believe that I could truly embrace my story without this knowledge. Please remember that whatever our current story, we do have a hope and a future in Christ.

Embrace your story today. Even when it hurts, even when it makes you angry, even when it makes no sense – embrace your story.

I would like to point you to a new blogging friend who inspires me to live my story. His name is Ryan Haack. You can read a blog that he wrote about this idea here.

Life is difficult…but it is good. Embrace your story today...because it is yours.

QUESTION: How do you embrace your life story? Please post comments below. NOTE: I have begun using DISQUS for comments. If you do not have a DISQUS account, please sign up for one. If you have a blog that you would like to link, sign up for your DISQUS account here. If you only want to make comments, sign up here. NOTE: You do NOT have to create a DISQUS account to leave comments.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


“As anyone who’s ever been mugged by their grandparents will tell you,
the element of surprise can make all the difference.”
~Bryan Allain

If you read the guest post that I wrote for my friend Jon Stolpe over on his blog last month, then you know that I believe everyone should have a blog. Writing a blog teaches discipline, helps sift your beliefs, and produces a written legacy of your thoughts. 

Last week, I received an advance copy of Bryan Allain’s ( awesome ebook, 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo. Besides being funny and an easy read, the book is full of great advice for bloggers – whether you are beginning a blog or you are a veteran blogger. 

31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo is a book that can be read in a couple of days, but will have you thinking about every aspect of your blog. The book is broken into three sections: 1) The 3 Core Elements; 2) The Reign of King Content; and 3) Finding Visitors, Keeping Readers. These sections take you from conception and vision of your blog to the specifics of creating content and handling comments. 

Some gems from the book: 
  • Day 5: The three core elements [of your blog] are Audience, Perspective, and Content. 
  • Day 8: Try picking one person as your audience and write just for them. 
  • Day 10: The more you can narrow and define the scope of your blog, the better chance you have of hooking new readers (the right readers) on the concept. 
  • Day 12: So here’s a trick I’ve learned to generate content ideas and blogging inspiration that works almost every time: Go spend time in your archives. 
  • Day 14: We’ve got less than a minute to hook a new visitor on our site. 
  • Day 16: I have never, in all my 10 years of blogging, had a reader complain to me that a blog post was too short. 
  • Day 20: I call them Cheater Posts because they are so easy to write, but honestly there’s nothing ethically wrong with them…Here are 5 examples of cheater posts I use or have seen used by others. 
  • Day 24: As a general rule, I think the fewer comments you get on your blog, the more you should be interacting with your commenters. 
  • Day 25: Take this one action every day to watch the number of new visitors to your site rise a little more each day. 
31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo is available through Amazon in Kindle format, as a PDF download, and will be available in the Nook store very soon. The cost is only $4.99. I guarantee you will love this book. 
In fact, go to Bryan’s blog and read more about him and his book. 

QUESTION: Do you have a book recommendation?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


“Life is a great big canvas, 
and you should throw all the paint on it you can.”
~Danny Kaye

2008-0217 (156) Lotus Flower by jenniferphoon

Do you ever take time to think about the fact that each and every morning is a brand new day – one that has never been and one that will never be again?

Too often, we just coast through life, allowing one day to fade into another. Before we realize it, days have become months and months have become years and we lament lost time. The above quote by Danny Kaye is a call to intentional living.

I once heard someone state that his memory was “painted with colors that would never fade.” This quote resonated with me because that is the kind of rich, memorable life that I seek. I want my life to be meaningful and full of colorful experiences for me and my family.

A Challenge
Below is one of my favorite pictures. I keep a copy of the picture beside my desk at work as a reminder that each day is a blank canvas waiting to be painted. What I choose to do with the blank canvas is, mostly, up to me.

Below are ten suggestions for making today count. Choose one and decide to intentionally do it today. These are very simple ideas, but as you make a choice to intentionally “throw some color on the canvas,” you will be creating memories and, more importantly, making today count.  
  • Keep a journal. 
  • Record your magic moments. (I wrote about this here – it’s worth reading) 
  • Create a magic moment for someone else today. (suggestions: buy four $5 McDonalds gift cards and hand them out, write an uplifting note to a colleague at work, let someone cut in front of you in traffic) 
  • Participate in Project 365, where you take one picture a day for a year. My wife has done this for the past two years and it provides a great record of our lives. 
  • Take 5 minutes and listen to a favorite piece of music. 
  • Take a 5-minute walk outside and really pay attention to your surroundings. 
  • Memorize scripture – start with Psalm 118:24 – “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” 
  • Set a goal - decide on something simple that you want to accomplish and commit it to paper; then, decide the date by which you will accomplish your goal. (For ideas read here, here, and here.)
  • Drive a different route to or from work - you might be surprised at what you notice.
  • Turn off the TV tonight and do something intentional. 
Remember…today really is all that we have. We can plan all day long, but we can’t live tomorrow until tomorrow. Living fully in the moment is a choice for today only.

So, get going! Throw some colorful, vivid paints on today's blank canvas! 

QUESTION: What other suggestions do you have for making TODAY count? Please leave comments below.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Below is an article written by educator Ron Clark for CNN. This is a powerful article that you should read and share. Click here for the link to the original article.

Editor's note: Ron Clark, author of "The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck -- 101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers," has been named "American Teacher of the Year" by Disney and was Oprah Winfrey's pick as her "Phenomenal Man." He founded The Ron Clark Academy, which educators from around the world have visited to learn.

(CNN) -- This summer, I met a principal who was recently named as the administrator of the year in her state. She was loved and adored by all, but she told me she was leaving the profession.

I screamed, "You can't leave us," and she quite bluntly replied, "Look, if I get an offer to lead a school system of orphans, I will be all over it, but I just can't deal with parents anymore; they are killing us."

Unfortunately, this sentiment seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list "issues with parents" as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges.

So, what can we do to stem the tide? What do teachers really need parents to understand?

For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don't fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer. I have become used to some parents who just don't want to hear anything negative about their child, but sometimes if you're willing to take early warning advice to heart, it can help you head off an issue that could become much greater in the future.

Trust us. At times when I tell parents that their child has been a behavior problem, I can almost see the hairs rise on their backs. They are ready to fight and defend their child, and it is exhausting. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I tell a mom something her son did and she turns, looks at him and asks, "Is that true?" Well, of course it's true. I just told you. And please don't ask whether a classmate can confirm what happened or whether another teacher might have been present. It only demeans teachers and weakens the partnership between teacher and parent.

Please quit with all the excuses
And if you really want to help your children be successful, stop making excuses for them. I was talking with a parent and her son about his summer reading assignments. He told me he hadn't started, and I let him know I was extremely disappointed because school starts in two weeks.
His mother chimed in and told me that it had been a horrible summer for them because of family issues they'd been through in July. I said I was so sorry, but I couldn't help but point out that the assignments were given in May. She quickly added that she was allowing her child some "fun time" during the summer before getting back to work in July and that it wasn't his fault the work wasn't complete.

Can you feel my pain?

Some parents will make excuses regardless of the situation, and they are raising children who will grow into adults who turn toward excuses and do not create a strong work ethic. If you don't want your child to end up 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren't succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions.

Parents, be a partner instead of a prosecutor
And parents, you know, it's OK for your child to get in trouble sometimes. It builds character and teaches life lessons. As teachers, we are vexed by those parents who stand in the way of those lessons; we call them helicopter parents because they want to swoop in and save their child every time something goes wrong. If we give a child a 79 on a project, then that is what the child deserves. Don't set up a time to meet with me to negotiate extra credit for an 80. It's a 79, regardless of whether you think it should be a B+.

This one may be hard to accept, but you shouldn't assume that because your child makes straight A's that he/she is getting a good education. The truth is, a lot of times it's the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone. Parents will say, "My child has a great teacher! He made all A's this year!"

Wow. Come on now. In all honesty, it's usually the best teachers who are giving the lowest grades, because they are raising expectations. Yet, when your children receive low scores you want to complain and head to the principal's office.

Please, take a step back and get a good look at the landscape. Before you challenge those low grades you feel the teacher has "given" your child, you might need to realize your child "earned" those grades and that the teacher you are complaining about is actually the one that is providing the best education.

And please, be a partner instead of a prosecutor. I had a child cheat on a test, and his parents threatened to call a lawyer because I was labeling him a criminal. I know that sounds crazy, but principals all across the country are telling me that more and more lawyers are accompanying parents for school meetings dealing with their children.

Teachers walking on eggshells
I feel so sorry for administrators and teachers these days whose hands are completely tied. In many ways, we live in fear of what will happen next. We walk on eggshells in a watered-down education system where teachers lack the courage to be honest and speak their minds. If they make a slight mistake, it can become a major disaster.

My mom just told me a child at a local school wrote on his face with a permanent marker. The teacher tried to get it off with a wash cloth, and it left a red mark on the side of his face. The parent called the media, and the teacher lost her job. My mom, my very own mother, said, "Can you believe that woman did that?"

I felt hit in the gut. I honestly would have probably tried to get the mark off as well. To think that we might lose our jobs over something so minor is scary. Why would anyone want to enter our profession? If our teachers continue to feel threatened and scared, you will rob our schools of our best and handcuff our efforts to recruit tomorrow's outstanding educators.

Finally, deal with negative situations in a professional manner.

If your child said something happened in the classroom that concerns you, ask to meet with the teacher and approach the situation by saying, "I wanted to let you know something my child said took place in your class, because I know that children can exaggerate and that there are always two sides to every story. I was hoping you could shed some light for me." If you aren't happy with the result, then take your concerns to the principal, but above all else, never talk negatively about a teacher in front of your child. If he knows you don't respect her, he won't either, and that will lead to a whole host of new problems.

We know you love your children. We love them, too. We just ask -- and beg of you -- to trust us, support us and work with the system, not against it. We need you to have our backs, and we need you to give us the respect we deserve. Lift us up and make us feel appreciated, and we will work even harder to give your child the best education possible.

That's a teacher's promise, from me to you.

QUESTION: Are you an educator or a parent or both? How does this article resonate with you? Please post comments below.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. "
~E. B. White

 My new watch by Artnow314

Over the long holiday weekend, I was out shopping with my wife when I came across a print that I thought was worth sharing. The text is below.

Here's to a life worth living!
This is your life. Find a passion and pursue it. Fall in love. Dream Big. Eat great food and spend quality time with good friends. Laugh everyday. Believe in magic. Tell stories. Reminisce about the good old days but look with optimism to the future. Travel often. Learn more. Be creative. Spend time with people you admire. Seize opportunities when they reveal themselves. Love with all your heart. Never give up. Do what you love. Be true to who you are. Make time to enjoy the simple things in life. Spend time with family. Forgive even when it's hard. Smile often. Be grateful. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Follow your dreams. Try new things. Work hard. Don't count the minutes, count the laughs. Embrace change. Trust in yourself. Be thankful. Be nice to everyone. Be happy. Live for today. And above all...make every moment count.
QUESTION: What would you add to the list? Please post comments below.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
~Albert Einstein

Pink vision by Piotr Zurek

The quote above by Albert Einstein is one of my all-time favorites.

When life becomes mundane, predictable and routine I am drawn back to this thought.

Too often, we live a life of black and white – we wake up at the same time, we follow the same morning routine, we drive the same route to work, we do the same thing at work all day, we drive the same route home, we watch the same TV shows, we go to bed only to wake up and repeat the process.

As the world presses down upon our lives, we must make an intentional effort to see the beautiful and the miraculous in our everyday lives. Do you realize the miracles that swirl around us each and every day?

It is too easy to just accept the miracle of our bodies (our brains, eyesight, hearing), the miracles of nature (the fact that the earth rotates every 24 hours and is right now hurtling through space), the miracle of emotions, the miracle of birth and regeneration (creation of a child, seasons of the earth), and a million other miracles that are present and available for us to witness each and every day.

And yet…
- We choose to sulk through life feeling sorry for our circumstances.
- We choose to think life is boring.
- We choose to waste our days in front of the television.
- We choose to wake up with a sense of dread in our gut about the impending day.
- We choose to live in regret of past failures and lament our lack of success.

A life of excitement, meaning, and purpose begins with a focus on the miraculous.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Psalms 139: 14-15:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

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

Just for today, I challenge you to let this verse take hold of your mind. Do you know Who created you and to Whom you belong? Choose to focus on the miracle of birth and life and know that you are here for a reason.

When our lives become safe and predictable, it takes a focus on the miraculous to jar us awake. Choose today to see the miraculous in every circumstance of life. 

QUESTION: What miracles in your everyday life have you been ignoring? Please leave comments below.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


“Sacrificing your happiness for the happiness of the one you love is, by far, the truest type of love.”

Frank Havens

I read this story back in August 2001 in Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family bulletin. I believe that some of the best lessons about life can be learned from the experiences of others.

My question for you as you read this is: Was Bill crazy for passing up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in the Olympics? Would you or I have the courage to make the same decision?
One of the most powerful stories in the history of the Olympic Games involved a canoeing specialist named Bill Havens. He was a shoo-in, I’m told, to win a gold medal in the 1924 Olympics in Paris.

But several months before the games were held, he learned that his wife would likely give birth to their first child while he was away. She told him that she could make it on her own, but this was a milestone Bill just didn’t want to miss. So he shocked everyone and stayed home. Bill greeted his son, Frank, on August 1, 1924. Though he always wondered what might have been, he said he never regretted his decision.

Well, he poured his life into that little lad and shared with him a love for the rapids. Twenty-eight years passed, and the Olympic Games were held in Helsinki, Finland. This time Frank Havens was chosen to compete in the canoeing event. The day after the competition, Bill received a telegram from his son that read: “Dear Dad, Thanks for waiting around for me to be born in 1924. I’m coming home with the gold medal that you should have won.” It was signed, “Your loving son, Frank.”

Many would question Bill Havens’ decision to miss his big opportunity in Paris, but he wanted his family to know that they always came first, no matter what. And that made him a hero to a little boy named Frank.
Who or what are we living for today? Is it for the accolades given us by others or growing the relationships of those closest to us?

I challenge us today to make decisions based on relationships and becoming men and women of substance. Live today with purpose and intentionality and may all of our decisions in life come from a place of purity and love.

QUESTION: Do you have a loved one who sacrificed for you? Please share in the comments below.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


“The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself,
the more energy you will have.”
~Norman Vincent Peale

 Going Upstairs by Valerie Everett

Life is all about perspective. Why is it that a person riddled with cancer with only months to live can experience a peaceful life while a millionaire living in a high-rise New York apartment can commit suicide? I believe it can be reduced to one idea: future perspective.

Think through the following scenario.

You have two men who are going to work hard labor for one year. You tell one man that he will work 12-hour days, 6 days per week and at the end of the year, you will pay him $12,000. How do you think this man will work his job? It will almost certainly be reluctantly and with a bad attitude.

You tell the other man, however, that he will work 12-hour days, 6 days per week for one year, but at the end of the year he will receive $10 million. Do you think he will have a good attitude throughout the year?

What’s the difference? Of course, it’s perspective. It will be easy for the 10 million dollar man to wake up with a smile each day and work as hard as possible. He knows what lies at the end of the journey.

Such is our walk with Christ.

When we keep a future perspective (eternity with Christ), we are better able to endure the hardships, setbacks, and challenges of our day-to-day life. And, make no mistake, whether you are a Christian or not, you will experience deep hurts, challenges, and trials as you walk through life on earth.

Life has a way of wearing us down and causing us to lose focus. Have you ever experienced a financial challenge and run this scenario through your head: this unplanned event has caused us to experience a financial setback, we’ll go into debt and never be able to catch up, they’ll foreclose on our house and then we’ll have to move in with the in-laws.

If you’re like me, you tend to run the worst-case scenario through your mind. Do you know that it doesn’t have to be like that? This is a choice.

God’s word says that we can have a future perspective. This is not an empty hope – it is a hope built on the truth of God’s word. He is in control of every single area of our lives. Does this mean that life on earth is easy? Of course not. Anyone who argues that Christians should always be happy and blessed are not reading the same Bible that I read.

Life is hard whether you are a Christian or not. The difference is that a Christian has a solid foundation and a future perspective that should shape our current challenges. This future perspective does not magically happen; rather, it is a result of prayer, Bible study, and spending time with God.

You do not trust someone that you do not know. This is true with our relationship with God as well. The more we allow ourselves to spend time with God and know Him, the more we will trust Him and keep this future perspective.

Today, live with this future perspective. It is not easy and takes a daily recalibration. But, it is possible when we know our Creator. 

QUESTION: How do you maintain your future perspective?

Monday, August 22, 2011


"Simply be who you are, do what you do best, be where you are called by joy, and let life work its magic on your behalf."
~Alan Cohen

 Rays of Hope by Zoomion

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog and the direction of my blog. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve teetered on the edge of ending my blog or at least greatly reducing my number of posts. I must say that I was nudged by two recent blog posts that I read. One was by Dave Hearn ( and the other by Tony J. Alicea (

The reason? I’m tired.

I’m tired of stealing time away from my wife at night when I’m writing a blog. I waited 37 years to get married and I’m not willing to let a blog steal time from Aimie.

I’m tired of stealing time away from my relationship with God. Since I began blogging in April, I’ve spent every morning reading and commenting on blog posts. Before blogging, I had a fairly rich devotional time with God each morning. I’m tired of putting God second to a blog.

I’m tired of acting like I know what I’m talking about. I realize that most of the things that I write about I struggle with myself (although I believe they are true). Sometimes I feel so hypocritical to write about intentional living when I feel, at times, that I lack direction for myself.

I’m tired of opening my Google Reader each morning and seeing 38 unread posts. It’s too much.

I’m tired of feeling the pressure to comment on other people’s blogs to drive people to my blog.

I’m tired of reading all the blogs that tell you how to grow your blog and monetize it. Do these sound familiar?
  • Give a list of 3-5 things (i.e. 3 ways to become a better listener). When I read other blogs and they give a list of things, even if they make sense, I don’t remember them. 
  • Use the right words in your blog title that optimizes your blog for search engines. 
  • Give away free content.

I know these things are all true, but I’m tired of worrying about doing what everyone else tells me to do to grow my blog.

So, my plan going forward is to narrow my focus. I’m eliminating most of the blogs that I’ve been reading from my Google Reader. Below are the exceptions. These people have become blogging friends and I will continue to support their blog and hope they will continue to support mine. One of the greatest rewards from writing a blog has been the other bloggers that I have met. These are genuine, honest, Godly men who have a heart for God and others. You should be reading these blogs:

Arny’s Blog – The Analogous Truth - 
Brandon’s Blog – Big B - 
Randy Cantrell – Bula Network - 
Cathy Family Blog - 
David Santistevan - 
Jeff Goins -
Jon Stolpe – Stretched - 
Ryan Haack - 
Tony J. Alicea - 
Dave Hearn - Warrior Shepard - 

Other good blogs:
Don Miller - 
Jon Acuff -
Michael Hyatt - 
I thank those of you who read my blog regularly. There are days when I’m surprised by the number of page hits that I have. Other days, of course, I’m disappointed by the lack of readers.

As I’ve previously stated, the main beneficiary of the blog has been myself. I want to record my thoughts for my future self and a blog is a great way to do so.

So, moving forward, I will likely blog a bit less and I will definitely try to write more about what I know. I still want my blog to surround the idea of intentional living, but maybe I’ll write more about my attempts at intentional living.

I want to be genuine and sincere and if my readership and “tribe” grows, then great. If it doesn’t, then I just know to move in a different direction.

In the meantime, I look forward to more interactions with my blogging friends and meeting new people along the journey.

QUESTION: What are you tired of? Please post comments below.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


"Life isn't about finding yourself.
Life is about creating yourself."
- George Bernard Shaw

Girona Puente Eiffel by Jose Louis Mieza

The story goes that there were two friends hiking in the woods when they came across a huge grizzly bear. The bear reared up on its hind legs and let out a loud roar when it saw the men approaching. One of the men casually sat down, took off his hiking boots and put on his running shoes. His friend looked at him and said, "Are you crazy? You can't outrun that bear."

"I don't have to outrun the bear," his friend replied. "I only have to outrun you!"

This week, we have been learning about becoming a bucket-filler, focusing on our strengths, and assessing our strengths. Today, I want to share with you one of the most fun assessment activities that I have ever participated in - having others assess your strengths.

We are usually pretty good assessors of our own strengths. We know in what circumstances we feel most comfortable and excel. But, perhaps you have some strengths that you don't see in yourself. This activity will help you find out.

Below are ten questions that I am going to ask you to email or copy and distribute to at least 3 friends. These should be true friends and not the type denoted in the story above. These need to be friends who will be tender with your feelings and are interested in your growth.

Some of these questions are similar to what you answered about yourself yesterday, but with a twist. See what you think of the questions. Again, I adapted these from Dr. Phil's great book, Self Matters: Creating Your Life from the Inside Out.

1. Please describe something that I consistently do well.
2. Please name one thing you have seen me do well.
3. Please tell me the best thing about how I look.
4. In as much detail as possible, can you remember any time that I seemed to be happiest?
5. Tell me what you think my strongest traits are.
6. If you were going to describe my best strengths with three words, what would they be?
7. If you were in a situation in which you thought I could help you in some way, what would that situation be?
8. Can you tell me any aspect you respect about me?
9. If you had to describe me as a car, what kind of car would I be? Why?
10. If you had to describe me as an animal, what kind of animal would I be? Why?

When I completed this exercise back in 2003, I sent this to my mother, one of my siblings, and two close friends. In some ways I was surprised by the responses and in other ways I was not surprised as all. I did receive some confirmations of the strengths that I knew I possessed.

However, I was surprised at a couple of the responses that I received. Others saw something in me that I didn't even see in myself. This was an important moment for me when I realized that maybe there was more to me than what my own self-assessments rendered.

I hope you will send this to 2 or 3 friends and ask for their honest feedback. I think it will be eye-opening. I would love for you to email me at and let me know if this activity proved meaningful or not.

As I close out this mini-series, I hope that your take-away from this week is the story of the bucket filler. That simple story is a great metaphor for how to live a happy and successful life. 

QUESTION: Does it make you nervous to ask others to assess your strengths? Please leave comments below.