Archive for November, 2008

“Soul Tips” for Reducing Holiday Stress

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

It is no secret that we are going through tough economic times. One poll said that 3 out 4 Americans are either scared, stressed or angry. These tough economic times can make the holiday season even more stressful. With Christmas right around the corner, for many, this time of the season will not be jolly with holly, but will be depressing because they will be stressing. It will be filled with anxiety for many because they know that this time of the year means shopping in crowded stores, entertaining family (especially ones we don’t particularly like), spending money they don’t have, going deeper and deeper into debt, going to company parties and mingling with people they don’t know, but pretending to have a good time, spending time at “split dinners” with parents who have gotten divorced and are now remarried, or being alone. Although this time of the year can be stressful, it doesn’t have to be. So, I have prepared some “soul tips” to help you relieve some stress and make it a joy-filled holiday season for you and your family. These are not ordered according to importance. Feel free to add to this list and write me back.

1. Accept God’s grace. Our souls are stressed when we feel like we have to give gifts and show up for parties in order to be accepted by people.
2. Go to worship. Infuse your soul with joy by acknowledging God’s Son, Jesus
3. Stick to your budget. Don’t spend what you don’t have.
4. Mend broken or severely strained relationships. Forgiveness sets our souls free.
5. Start your own family holiday traditions.
6. Pay cash/limit your use of your credit card. There is nothing more stressful on your soul than carrying holiday debt into the new year. By God’s grace and a whole lot of discipline, we have committed to paying cash for our holidays.
7. Resist the urge and need to compete with others. If someone buys you a gift, don’t feel guilty because you didn’t buy them anything. You don’t have to run out and spend money that was not budgeted to purchase a gift for someone just because they bought you a gift. Accept their gift graciously.
8. Make a list. Make a list for your dinners and your gifts. A list has a way of curbing our appetite to spend more than we have and it gives us a sense of accomplishment.
9. Be generous. If you want to energize your soul and the soul of others, give and give generously to others.
10. Avoid overeating . Don’t go to holiday dinners and parties hungry.
11. Do some creative gift giving . White elephant parties are inexpensive and lots of fun.
12. Make a gift for your loved ones.
13. Spend quality time with your family.
14. Watch your favorite movie together. Night at the Museum is one of our favorites.
15. Invite friends over for breakfast/brunch and games.
16. Teach your kids generosity by encouraging them buy a gift for someone in need.
17. Buy Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner for someone in need.
18. Agree on a gift limit for each other and play according to the rules.
19. If you must drink, limit your consumption of the “holiday cheer.” If per chance you have too much of the cheer, be sure to have a designated driver to drive you home.
20. Write a love letter to each one of your family members.
21. Start early. Don’t stress yourself out with last minute and thoughtless shopping.
22. Give your spouse or your significant other your wish list. Don’t torture him/her by making him/her guess what you want.
23. Avoid the “same as cash” advertisements. The stores are anticipating you will not pay your balance off in the stipulated time and they will enjoy charging you the accrued interest.
24. Give the gift of paying on or paying off the consumer debt of a family member or friend.
25. Make a gratitude list. Focus on all the things for which you are grateful – home, family, friendships, health, job, church family, etc.
26. Exercise. It has been clinically proven that regular exercise reduces stress in our lives. So, walk, run, spin, lift, or ride.

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Spending Your Dash

Monday, November 24th, 2008

If you look closely at a grave maker in a cemetery, you will see a couple of important things. You will see the person’s name, a favorite verse, and maybe a picture of some sort. However, those things are not the most important parts of the grave marker. The most important parts of a grave marker are not words and pictures, but a line, dash, a hyphen. That little line between your birth and death is the most important emblem on the marker. The date of your birth is significant, but it is not the most important because you really had no control over that. The date of your death is significant, but not the most important because you really don’t control that either (unless it is self-murder). The only part of the marker we have control over is that two inch dash between them. You see, embedded in that two inch dash is all of our life – our hopes, our dreams, our decisions (wise and foolish), how we used our time and how we spent our money, what we spent our life on or what we spent our lives chasing. The bible talks about us living three score and ten (that’s seventy years) and if God is gracious, we might see eighty years. I did the math. If we live 70 years, that translates to 25,550 days. Here is the equation: 70 – your age = x. Now multiply the sum by 365, and you will get the number of days left in your dash. Now this is a broad stroke generality. I know this is not something you wanted to think about on a Monday morning, but I am writing this post to encourage you to spend your dash wisely. Our days are too important to spend them on frivolous trivia (although I know this is par for the course), pettiness, and scarcity thinking. Because our time is precious, we must value it and spent it on precious things – spending quality time with our heavenly Father and the people we love, hugging spouses and our kids just a little tighter each day (i know we want to hug them tighter to kill them most times for their foolish choices and ungrateful attitudes), experiencing the wonders of God’s good creation, making love to our spouses for seven straight days (Thanks Pastor Ed Young), using our gifs to bless as many people as we can, serving those in need, laughing a lot, enjoying good food, watching the sunset (i got to move to warmer climate), and so many other Bucket List kinds of adventures. Approach each day with your dash in mind. So when you and I get to the end of our lives, people will be able to say and see that we spent our dash well.

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Powell’s Leadership Principles

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

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10 Reasons You’re Probably Going to Fail

Friday, November 21st, 2008

I’d like to share with you “10 Reasons Why You’re Probably Going to Fail” from a post by The Urban Pastor, a good friend of mine. He ran across a blog by Tony Morgan. i want to share it with you because it made a huge impact on me when I read it.  

1. It’s not your passion. If it doesn’t make your heart beat fast or cause your mind to race when you’re trying to sleep, you’re probably doing the wrong thing.
2. You don’t have a plan. You need a vision, and you need to identify specific steps to make that vision become reality. That includes a financial plan. (I happen to believe you need direction from God on this.)
3. You’re waiting for it to be perfect. Test-drive it. Beta-test that new idea. You’ll fall into the trap of inaction if you think it has to be absolutely right from day one.
4. You’re not willing to work hard. Everything worth pursuing in my life has involved discipline and perseverance.
5. It’ll outgrow you. Keep learning. Keep growing. But more importantly, build a team of people including leaders that can be who you’re not.
6. You’ve had success in the past. I’ve watched organizations hang on to a good idea for too long. Time passes. Momentum fades. It’s risky to let go of the past and jump on the next wave.
7. You’re unwilling to stop doing something else. Complexity is easy. Simplicity takes discipline. You can’t build a healthy marriage if you’re unwilling to give up dating other women. Who/what do you need to stop dating?
8. You won’t build a team of friends. Anyone can hire from a resume. You need to find people you want to share life with. In the long run, great relationships will get you out of bed in the morning.
9. You won’t have the tough conversations. When breakdown happens (and it always does), someone needs to put on their big-boy pants and initiate the difficult conversation that leads to relational healing.
10. You’re afraid of failure. When fear consumes you, it will cause you to do stupid things. You’ll let negativity distract you. You’ll embrace the known, and grow comfortable with mediocrity. The more often you fail, though, the more often you’ll find success.

Now why am I sharing this with you? Well, these things just hit me hard and I wanted to share them with you. What do you think – care to add to the list?

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Dying 2 Live

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Over the last several weeks I have been dying – dying to me, you see. Several weeks ago my wife left her cushy part time job at the community college to work full-time again at one of the local high schools. I was really excited at first because the extra money would allow us to implement “operation pay off the house in two years.” I was excited until she had to leave home early, stay at the school late, and burn the midnight oil to put grades in (I knew there was a catch when they said “you won’t have any extra duties.”). What does her new, stressful schedule mean for me? It means death to me. You see, I liked my cushy, part-time father job, but now I have to: make sure my kids have done their homework (right), get up earlier to feed them (eating breakfast is so over rated), make sure they have washed their faces, brushed their teeth, packed their bags, fix their lunches, drive them to school (I am praying for snow days this year), flex my schedule and cut my day short to pick them up from school, go up to the school if they get sick or forget a lunch or homework (it has all happened in the last four weeks), drop off and pick up my oldest son Tuesday and Thursday from a really cool after school science program, of which he has been part for the last three years, and make sure they have dinner in the evenings. Whew! Over the last several weeks I have been dying – dying to me, you see. I really like my personal time, but these last several weeks have taught me that dying to self means that my time must be more theirs and less mine. Dying to self is painful and many times it feels torturous. However, I am gaining new insight; dying a little means I will live, really live a lot. The living a lot part? Well, my wife is less stressed and more focused, She has spoken my love language more often (words of affirmation), the love-making has been “off the chain,” operation pay off the house is in full-effect and we are experiencing a oneness of which the Bible speaks. So, I am asking God, these days, to help me learn to die a little each day, ratify my wedding vows more and more with true sacrifice, and to thank and celebrate my wife every chance I get for having done what I am doing now, for so many years without complaining (that much). I am dying to live.

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Friday, November 21st, 2008

I was hewn down and that’s when the process began.
The cuts were sharp and deep. I was not a fan.
The pain was excruciating.
It was a pain like no other.
It was exhilarating!
But running beside my pain
was the joy of the specialness I might gain.
My sculptor did not tell me what I would be;
I just sensed in me that I could be.
I was so common for so long,
and now I was being shaped into something
unique and strong.
The days went by very quickly.
From the cuts, scrapes and pounding, I was sickly.
I felt the impact
of a sharp blade go up and down my back,
Then a hack on my back,
another attack,
without tact and
with lack of love.
But I truly knew
I was being made into something
special and new.
As the day of completion approached,
I wondered what I would be.
I was anxious to see.
Would I be a masterfully carved antique face
or would I be the first plank on the royal stair case?
Was I an emblem of some great god?
Or was I the spitting image of some Greek body?
This type of musing was to exhausting for me to take
so I slumbered into a deep sleep and dreamed about my fate.
I was awakened to a new twenty-four
and thought, ”what will people say
when he walks with me through the door?”
I smiled with elation and brimmed with great anticipation
for this was the day when I would see me, feel me, love me,
a masterful creation.
“Finished at last” the artist sighed.
I wanted to cry because for the first time
I felt complete inside.
I felt honorable and famous.
But what was I? I don’t know.
I can’t see my face yet.
The pace
was too great
as the artist moved me to another place.
“Slow down, Slow down,
so I can see what you made me to be.
It was as if he heard me.”
His steps were now methodical, unhurried, and tamed
as the weight of my biology
was buried and pressed into his weak frame.
I looked to the right and there, in a mirror of some kind,
He wasted His time!
When I saw my reflection
I felt dejection
and depression from
the rejection
that I would receive
from people’s impression of me.
I was not famous, but infamous.
I was not unique, but ugly.
I was not a picture of fame but an emblem of suffering and shame.
I was not a bed where great men would lie.
I was a rugged piece of wood where murderers, thieves
and a man named Jesus would die.
I was diabolical, theological, paradoxical
I was a Cross! A Cross!
An ignominious, beautiful and glorious Cross!

What or who is God making you to be? Is it what you thought it would be? How has he used your pain to make you into something beautiful? Something useful? Something and someone who gives life?

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