Love

 

20171230_165347-1.jpgIf I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have… but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends….. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:2-13

My dad used to say, put your name where ‘love’ is in the above verses. And see if it rings true. For example, James is patient. James is kind, James is not irritable, James does not insist on his way… Etc. Most people that know me, have to snicker when reading that. Especially my wife who knows me best. The irritable one will probably make her fall out of her chair laughing. Thankfully, that is changing. Not because of me, but because of God’s love. It is a game changer. He didn’t just start loving me, He has loved me my whole life, before I was even born. But I have only come to realize that love over the past couple of years. And that all started because of my wonderful, beautiful wife who did not give up on loving me.

Besides being Valentine’s day, this weekend is my wife and I’s 22nd wedding anniversary. I have wrote before what she has had to endure for our marriage. She was able to endure because she loved me. And I am soooooo thankful for that love! I know she was able to because she had hope. Not hope in me, but hope in God. She also prayed for me and had faith that God would answer her prayers and open my heart to see God’s love. So, she had faith, hope, and love! But as the Bible says, the greatest is love!

I want to tell my wife that I love her, and thank her for continuing to love me thru everything. Without her love, I probably wouldn’t have recognized God’s love for me, yet. I don’t even like to think about where I’d be if she had not fought for me. I also want to thank God for giving me another chance. Another chance to love my wife and family the right way.

Love is a word that gets thrown around a lot. We love pizza, our sports teams, cars, and many other things that we enjoy. I imagine the word love will be used a billion times today, in cards, commercials, songs, and Instagram posts. But I want you to think about true love. True love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. It is not just something we say or write, it is something we do. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. When we truly do that, love flows out of us. We are able to love those around us more deeply cause of that love. That is how my wife was able to love me when most would have said I was unlovable. She loved me even though I didn’t deserve it. Just like God loves us even though we do not deserve it. It is easy to say you love someone when things are going great. True love is to love when things are not. Love endures all, Love never ends!

Commit

I believe if you are going to be successful in anything, you must first make a commitment. It is the first step. No matter what it is, it must start with true commitment! It can not be lip service! A wise coach once told me, that being committed is like being pregnant. You either are, or you are not. There is no in between. You can not be “kinda” pregnant. It is the same with being committed, you either are, or you are not.

We are in the second month of 2018. Time flies, right? I want you to think about all those New Year resolutions or goals you made at the start of the year. It is easy to talk about changing then. There are so many Nike or Apple commercials that motivate and get you fired up. So, are you still working on them? If not, then I’m afraid you did not really commit. I love this quote from Inky Johnson, he says “Commitment is staying true to what you said you would do long after the mood you said it in has left.”  You probably had good intentions. I am sure you were motivated. I am sure you were inspired, but you were not committed.

The high school football team I coach for, has a commitment night before the season starts. It is an awesome night! We gather in a room and one by one, coaches and players go up to the front. We put our hand on a team helmet, and commit to the team. It is powerful stuff. We laugh, we cry, we draw closer to one another. And as the season progresses, we remind everyone about the commitment they made to their brothers. It makes a big difference through the season. I believe this works because each player has made themselves accountable to the team. It is a good practice for yourself. Make yourself accountable to either a friend, family, or even a coach. We all have bad days, we all have those moments when we want to quit. You need that accountability. That is why getting a life coach, or mentor in your life is so beneficial.

Usually, when there is lasting change, most people can remember a time when they made a commitment. A commitment to themselves, friends, family or God. That moment when they said enough was enough, when they said: I have to change, or I have to quit drinking, I have to lose weight, I have to quit smoking, I have to start being there for my family, I have to give my life to God. Whatever it is, whatever you need to do, start with committing. Write it down, then tell someone about it. Then live up to your commitments. The most successful people I know do what they say they were going to do when they say they are going to do it. Improving is a process, and the first step of that process is to commit!

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established – Proverbs 16:3

Next Play

As a coach, I am always reminding players to focus on the next play. It is easy to say, harder to do. What separates the elite athletes from most, is they are able to put the past behind them. They focus on whats next. We call it having a short memory. Too many times, athletes can not do that. They do not let it go. They keep recalling that horrible play over and over in their head. They keep reliving it, which causes them to make more bad plays. It just snowballs.

Recently, Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys had this happen to him. In a game they had to win, he dropped a simple pass, then he fumbled the ball. This lead him to sitting on the sideline with a defeated look for the remainder of the game. I do not mean to just pick on Dez, I know sports radio has done enough of that over the past few weeks. I just wanted to point out that even professional athletes do it, not just the high school athletes I coach.

But it is not just athletes, we do it in this game of life as well. Think about when you had a bad day, which turned into a bad week, a bad month, etc.. Or one bad decision that lead into another bad decision, then another, till you find yourself at rock bottom. Wondering how in the world did you sink so low. How did it get to this.

In sports, coaches stress fundamentals. If the player does what they are suppose to do, they have a better chance of making a positive play. When they get away from those techniques that they were taught, negative things usually happen. It is the same for us. I believe most of us know the fundamentals on how we should live our lives. We just do not execute like we should. We do not stop the negative momentum from building up. We need to pause and tell ourselves – Next Play. We can not change the past, there is nothing we can do about yesterday. We can only control the controllable’s. So as we learn from yesterday, let us make sure we focus on today. Not tomorrow. Just today! Focus on just this next play.

Possess it!

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New Year’s resolutions do not work for 9 out of ten people. It is amazing that so many people do it, even with a very low success rate. We are a week into the new year, are you still keeping yours? I personally gave up making them a couple of years ago. I also gave up making goals, but that is another post. Instead of resolutions, I now do the One Word campaign. It’s very simple, pick out One Word that can help guide your decisions or actions for this year. You can use it to help focus your life. The right word can guide you to lasting change.

I also like to tie my One Word to a verse for the year. At my church, we get to stand and tell everyone our year’s verse. Two years ago, my word was Courageous and my verse was Joshua 1:9 – “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid…for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” It was helpful for me with all that I was facing. I made numerous life changing decisions that year, and with each decision, I asked myself, is this Courageous? I wanted to stop making decisions based on fear, that is what I had been doing my whole life. Then last year, my word was Forward; my verse was Exodus 14:13-15. I blogged about that experience with God telling me He had everything under control, I just needed to keep moving. I just needed to Go Forward!

I have been thinking about 2018’s word for a couple of weeks now. My previous words were from Israel’s journey from their captivity to their promised land. I felt I was supposed to stay with this theme again. I know I haven’t fully reached my promised land. I am out of the captivity I was in, but I know I haven’t fully arrived yet. I am not where God wants me to end up. But for the first time, I can see the plan that God has for me. And honestly, it is overwhelming, exciting, and scary at the same time. I am sure that is what the children of Israel felt when they were on the border of the promise land. God told them to “Possess the land” but they refused the first time. Because of that, they journeyed through the wilderness. God gave them their inheritance, their land, but they refused to possess it. They saw all the difficulties, hardships, troubles, and obstacles that laid before them. They did not have the faith that God had already gave them the land, they just needed to possess it!

So, as you can tell, my word for 2018 is Possess. My verse is Deuteronomy 1:21 – ‘Look, the Lord your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the Lord God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.’ I realize that it is an unusual verse to have for the year. I am sure that I will be the only one to use this verse. But it has everything in it to help me. It is telling me that God has set everything up for me, but I need to possess it! That does not mean it will be easy. Obstacles will surely come up. But as I have found out the last couple of years, the obstacle is the way. The verse then tells me as ‘God has spoken to me’. I believe he has given me a vision, I must continue to act on that vision. Then the last part, do not fear or be discouraged. This theme is in all my yearly verses. Fear kept me from reaching my full potential earlier in my life. I did not have the faith to overcome all those fears. So, as 2018 starts, I know I am at the border. I can choose to wait, and maybe have to wander the wilderness cause of my fear. Or I can be courageous, move forward and possess all that God is giving me!

The Greatest Teacher, Failure is!

What a great line from Yoda in The Last Jedi. I hope it is not too much of a spoiler for you, that Yoda made an appearance in the latest Star Wars movie. I immediately wanted to use it right after it ended, but my kids said I needed to wait till after the weekend. And I am glad I did because I kept hearing this message about failure over and over. It is like I was supposed to get this engrained in my head.

One of these instances was Charlie Day from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. One of my older sons love that show. He was watching a commencement speech given by Charlie and told me I needed to watch it. I sat down with him mainly cause I was curious. How could a guy who played one of the dumbest guys on TV, be asked to give a commencement speech? But it was a really great speech (and funny) that encouraged the graduates not to do the safe thing, but take risks. He said “Be willing to fail, let yourself fail, fail in the way and the place you would want to fail. Fail, pick yourself up, and fail again. Because without your struggle, what is your success anyways.” That is a great point, what is success without struggle. If it always came easy, it would get boring. 

I don’t know about you, but I love hearing about successful failures. People who overcame their past failures, learned from them, and became successful. JK Rowling, Steve Jobs, Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney and Michael Jordan are just some of the most famous ones. They all overcame failures, obstacles, and setbacks to become some of the greatest at their profession. But a key part of their failure is, they learned something along the way. When you fail, make sure you learn from it! Failing isn’t fun. I would much rather succeed. But no one makes every shot, nobody bats a thousand. But it is hard to win if you aren’t swinging or shooting. So, don’t be afraid to fail! Its the greatest teacher. A Jedi Master said so!

Read to Lead – Books I read in 2017

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I went most of my life trying to read as little as possible. It was not till recently, that I discovered the greatness of reading. These books are all that I have read this past year. A few of them are books that I have read before, but I felt I needed to read them again. One of the books I reread was The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. This book actually started the journey I’m on that turned my life around. The main character, George, could have been written about me. Everything in his life was falling apart: his career, marriage, family, health. He lived a fearful life, always expecting something bad to happen to him. And when you live and think like that, you will make it a self fulfilling prophecy. I actually try to read the Energy Bus at least once a year. It reminds me where I was, and I do not want to go back.

Most of the books that I read, are on the Leadership Reading Challenge from Train to be Clutch. Their work has really been instrumental in me finding my focus. Joshua Medcalf, the founder of T2BC wrote a book earlier this year titled: Pound the Stone. I was lucky enough to be on the book launch team, so I got to read a couple of the advance versions. I loved the final version and would have to say that it was the best book I read all year.

Next, would be the Power of Positive Leadership by Jon Gordon. I was on that book launch team as well. This book really challenged me as I got ready to coach football this past season. I wanted to be the most positive coach I could be after reading it. It taught me I need to be committed to my players and that I should find and live my purpose.

The last book that I would like to briefly recommend is – In a pit with a lion on a snowy day. This is another book that I reread. Whenever I feel fearful of something coming up, I read this book. It reminds me to trust God completely. He is bigger than any lions in your life.

So, here is the list of books I had the privilege of reading this year:

Pound the Stone – Joshua Medcalf

Power of Positive Leadership – Jon Gordon

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day – Mark Batterson

The Energy Bus – Jon Gordon

The Carpenter – Jon Gordon

The Barbarian Way – Erwin McManus

The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader’s Day – John C. Maxwell

The Principle Circle – Jamie Gilbert

The War of Art – Steven Pressfield

The One Thing – Gary Keller

The 5 Second Rule – Mel Robbins

Become a Life Coach – Mitch Matthews

Christian Coaching – Gary Collins

It’s only thirteen books. I really want to read twice that many in 2018!

 

2 Different Men

As I took the selfie with my wife, I remembered doing the exact same thing, in that same spot, right there with my wife 3 years ago. The man in those pics is physically the same, but mentally, emotionally, spiritually….so different. The man from 3 years ago, was a broken man. A man who had a huge void in his life, and  was trying to fill it anyway he could. That man was fearful for the future, had lost all faith, and was negative about everything. He hated life. Everything and just about everyone had become a burden to him. He couldn’t enjoy all the blessings he had, because they all felt like weights or a prison. A prison that he could not break free from. His nice house – a prison, his nice cars – just big weights. He even felt his wonderful, beautiful family was somehow holding him back.

He was ready to throw it all away to seek happiness. He would not of found it. He would still be searching if it wasn’t for his wonderful wife who fought so hard for him. Honestly, it is hard to believe that she is in either of those pics. Most women would not be. Most women would have left as fast as they could. But she fought. She didn’t want to at first. But God was speaking to her, telling her not to give up on me. Telling her that one day, our marriage would be beautiful and an example of the way marriages should be.

I remember her telling me that. I could not understand it then. I still don’t really know how that man in the first pic became to be the man in the second. I don’t really know how that man, who had given up on life and hated waking up and facing the day became the man who wakes up feeling more blessed each day. Blessed that he has a wife who fought for him! Blessed that he got to spend and enjoy these past three years with his family. Blessed that he gets to coach young athletes and blessed that God has called him to help men that were in his situation.

My wife recently wrote a little about her experience. It’s the post titled Bitter. I encourage everyone to read it. God has given us both a vision. And we have both taken big steps towards that vision. A life without purpose is no life at all. God wants us to be happy. Happy in life and in our marriages. The man and wife in the second pic is proof that it can happen NO MATTER WHAT HAS HAPPENED PREVIOUSLY!

Recommit!

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All of us have done this, we start something with the best intentions, but then we fall behind. Life sometimes happens to us. We get bombarded with things, we get distracted, we don’t do what we need to be doing. This could be working out, spending time with God, reading good books or even just writing on a blog. I’m obviously talking to myself here. When I started this, I said I was writing to myself. If anyone else reads it, gets something out of it, applies it, then that is a huge plus. I have fallen behind on my writing commitments that I have made to myself. I could go down the list of everything I have going on, but I know we make the time for the things that are important to us. This is football season and I am a football coach, so time is at a premium during the fall. But I still find time to watch football and Curb your Enthusiasm on TV. So I have some time, I just have to make better use of it.

The main message of my blog is to Commit, Surrender the results, and Trust the process. So I have to recommit to writing on this blog. I can not get better if I’m not doing it. I have to make sure this is a bigger priority in my life. Sometimes we need to let go of things that distract us from what we are supposed to be doing. Even if that means not watching as much football. So if you fall behind with something you know you are supposed to be doing, recommit to it.  Make it a higher priority and carve out time to do the things you are supposed to. For me, that is to just keep hitting publish!

#CommitSurrenderTrust

Get Busy Growing

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Shawshank Redemption is one of my favorite movies. It is always a stop-down for me. I always end up watching it if I see it while flipping channels. One of my favorite quotes from the movie is Andy saying “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.” I love the phrase at the beginning: “It comes down to a simple choice”. Really, our life comes down to the choices we make. One of the most important choices we can make in life, is to chose to grow.

Choosing to grow is the first step in adopting a growth mindset. I first learned about the growth mindset from Train to be Clutch’s Leadership Reading Program. The first book on the list is Mindset: The New Psychology of success by Carol Dweck. It taught me that there are two mindsets that we choose to live life with, either a growth or a fixed. The growth mindset is a starting point for change, the fixed mindset stands in the way of development and change. If I was going to get anything from the other books, I had to be open to choosing growth.

Much of my life, I lived in the fixed mindset on many things. I believed “You are who you are” and said that to my wife many times.  A fixed mindset assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are givens which we can’t really change. It wants success by avoiding failure at all costs. That means participating in events or classes, where you know you will be successful. I loved math and history because it was easy for me. I hated English, Literature, and writing because I wasn’t good at them. I didn’t give full effort in those classes, because I told myself: “What’s the point? I suck at them anyways.”

A growth mindset, on the other hand, thrives on challenges. It sees failure as not being stupid or unsuccessful, but as a way to learn and grow our existing abilities. If I would have had a growth mindset back in my writing class, I would have used those classes as a chance to improve, which would come in handy today. We all have things in our life that we struggle with doing. It could be math, grammar, spelling, cooking, taking tests, etc.. the list could go on and on. The growth mindset’s goal is to learn and improve in ALL areas of your life.

Even if society considers you the best at something, always look to get better. Grant Teaff, the former coach of the Baylor Bears, tells a story of coach Gordon Wood. Coach Wood was the nation’s winningest high school football coach at the time and had already won nine state football titles. Teaff went to watch film at his office the day after a Baylor game. Coach Wood was waiting for him on the couch in the team’s lounge. Wood saw Baylor do some things in the game the day before, he wanted to learn about them so he could help his team achieve even more success. He was at the end of his career, had nothing to prove to anyone, he just wanted to keep improving and gain even more knowledge.

There are many aspects to the growth mindset. The best way to learn about them all is by reading Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset. She also has a website at mindsetworks.com that I highly recommend you check out. No matter where you are in life, or what situation you are in, how old or how young, you have a choice everyday. A choice to use every failure, every setback as a chance to learn. A choice to improve yourself or just stay the same. A choice to get busy growing, or get busy dying.

twomindsets

Go Forward

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I already had a plan for my next post, but at church on Sunday, we turned to a familiar passage in Exodus that I had highlighted a year before. It was Exodus 14:13 – 15. “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today….The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace…Why do you cry to Me?…..Go Forward.”

The children of Israel were backed up to the Red Sea. They could see the Egyptians coming after them. They were cornered, between a rock and a hard place. Or more like between a deep sea, and a powerful Egyptian army. As soon as I saw the highlighted verses, a flood of memories came over me about my Red Sea.

I have coached football and basketball for awhile, but my main income has always come from doing computer work. My IT contract ended the year before and I was having trouble finding work. I firmly believe I didn’t find more IT work, cause that is not what I am supposed to be doing. We were completely out of money and were totally relying on God to provide food and pay bills (which He did!) One big bill was our rent payment, our landlord was great and worked with us. But we knew we were living in a house we could not afford. We worked out an agreement to be out of our house by Aug 1st. The problem was we had no place to move to. We had no money to pay the first months rent or even a security deposit. It felt like we were up against our Red Sea and the Egyptian army was closing fast.

During this time, God gave me two messages. The first was a video that talked about an old message titled “Right Song, Wrong Side.” After Israel crossed the Red Sea, they sang a song about Salvation of the Lord. Israel should have sang that song before the Red Sea was parted, not after they crossed. I was determined to sing God’s praises before cause I knew he would part our Red Sea. I then came upon Exodus 14 about a week before August 1st. Even though we were praying relentlessly about our job and living situation, we were not preparing ourselves to move. “Why do you cry to me?..Go Forward” felt like a personal message directly to me! In today’s words, I was reading, “I got this, Do what you need to do.” I got up, informed the family that I was not sure where we were going, but we needed to be packed and ready to move.

The Thursday before we had to be out, I was looking online for centers or services that could help us. I was making calls, sending emails but all told me that they couldn’t help till we were officially homeless. I needed to get back with them on Monday. While searching, I saw an ad for Catholic Charities. I went to their website and it suggested to go to their offices instead of calling. I figured they would tell me the same thing, but I got up and went to their location. They asked if I had ever served in the military, I told them I had. A very nice lady from their Veteran Affairs department came out and talked to me. I explained our situation and her first question to me was, “How are you not freaking out?” I chuckled and told her, “I just feel a peace that God is going to provide and take care of us.” She smiled and told me, “Well, God has led you to the right place”. She started listing all that they were going to do for my family. They supplied us with a moving truck, a large storage facility for all our stuff, and put my family in a hotel. She told me they would pay my deposit and rent till we got back on our feet. They would pay all our deposits on all our utilities and any thing that was needed to get us in a house. Now, I am not a guy who cries easily, but I couldn’t help myself as she was listing all this out. This was by far, more than we could have ever hoped for. I could barely get all this out when I called my wife as I left the building.

God brought us through that situation, just like he parted the Red Sea and had Israel cross over on dry land. The whole time, I just knew He was going to. I didn’t know how God was going to do it. But I knew He was. I can honestly say, I have never felt such peace through a crisis as I did with this. People who knew what was going on, couldn’t believe how calm my wife and I were about it. Everyone told us how they would be freaking out. It also didn’t take long for God to provide a house and the right job that still allowed me to coach. I used to have so much anxiety about my career, money, and all the things we fret over these days. But I now know that worrying is pointless. The words “Fear Not” are in the Bible more than 365 times. So you could read a different verse to “Fear Not” every day of the year. So remember, when you are up against your Red Sea, Remember who is in control! There is such a peace when you do.

Commit, Surrender and Trust!