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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

You Becoming You - Three ways to Re-charge.

How do you re-charge? When we experience the times of our lives in which our wheels are spinning and standing still, what do we do to start moving again?
Here are three ways I have found to help me to stop, re-think, and re-charge my current state and move forward.
1. Communicate your vision and be willing to change. What is your passion? Pursue it. If you experience rejection, use it as re-direction.  What you're doing matters.
2.  Learn by listening. Become active, not re-active. This will help you to shape your mindset.  Active  listening will improve your critical thinking skill-set.
3. Be Grateful. 
We can do this, together.
Until next time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Legacy.

Today I heard that a man who had mentored me as I grew up had passed away. Jerry Albeck inspired me to be respectful and grateful, to serve others consistently, and to always seek to grow and be more than what I believed my potential to be. I am thankful for the legacy he created.
You may or may have not known Jerry Albeck, but I do know that you have the ability to make a difference in someone's life today by the life you lead.
We can do this, together. 
Until next time.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

An Open Letter To My Community

This past week I observed two separate events that had a profound impact on me.  I have been recently experiencing a rather cynical attitude towards society, and these events forced me to re-examine my attitude and current state of mind.
The first event I am speaking of involved the tragic loss of a young local businessman.  The outpouring of love and support for this family from our community and his peers was beyond measure.  What a dynamic statement of remembrance was on display as a reflection of the positive impact he had on his community.
The second event involved a woman of whom I went to high school with, and a social media post in which she shared an experience she had, which compelled her to action.  She stated that she had observed a man in a wheelchair struggling to get up a hill (in 95 degree humid weather).  She happened to see numerous cars just drive past him, so she stopped and helped him up the hill.  As I read her post I was thankful to know that there are still people in our world who care to give of themselves to help others when they are in need.
I would like to sincerely thank all of you who live your lives just a little differently.
Thank you for being kind and compassionate, and caring for others to make our communities better.
We can do this, together.
Until next time.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Follow the Leader

I'm the youngest of five siblings, two big brothers, two big sisters. When I was growing up, I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be smart and studious like my sister Ruth. I wanted to be an amazing musician like my sister Sara. I wanted to be adventurous and super-creative like my brother Joel. I wanted to be an excellent athlete like my brother Sam. 

One hot summer day when I was around twelve years of age,  my brothers and I were outside riding our bikes. My oldest brother found an eight foot two-by-four and positioned it carefully over a nice deep ditch between two driveway areas where we were riding. One of the driveways was a bit higher than the other, so the two-by-four made a nice connecting ramp.  My brothers began to ride down the ramp quickly and easily. It looked fun, I needed to do it too! Needless to say, I was not as coordinated, and as I reached the midway point of the ramp, my wheel slipped off, and into the ditch I went, face-first over the handle bars.  My face made contact with the ground first. As I jumped up, scrambled to look for my broken glasses, and check to see if I had all of my teeth, I never thought once about not getting back on that bike. I followed, I failed, but I didn't give up. I learned that I couldn't do what they were doing, yet. I was still inspired to try.  

Are you inspired by someone to do great things and come into your own today? Are you willing to keep on trying, even when you fall on your face? Who will you inspire today? 

We can do this, together.
Until next time.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

"Ode To Bridget"

The toothiest grin I ever did display,
was when you walked down to me on our wedding day.
My heart pounded, my knees grew weak,
my mouth so dry, didn't know how I'd speak.
The most beautiful bride I ever did see, 
was walking down the aisle to me.
We made our vows, each to the other, 
we'd be best friends and lovers.
Fifteen years later, and I smile just as wide, 
because my Bridget is still by my side.

We can do this, together.
Until next time,

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Three reasons I'm lowering my marital expectations.

Have you ever reflected back on your life and compared your expectations with your reality?  As I wrote my blog last week regarding complacency in marriage (find it here: ), I considered what my expectations of my marital relationship fifteen years ago were versus what they are right now, and I realized that much conflict and frustration could be avoided, and how I can be a better Husband and Father by lowering my expectations. Here are three reasons I'm taking this action:
1.  I am lowering my expectations in order to serve my family better. I want to be a consistent example of what love is.  What better way to demonstrate that than to serve them consistently, with nothing expected in return.  It's not easy, but it's worth it.
2. I am lowering my expectations in order to communicate more effectively.  Many times when I verbalize the expectations I am placing on my wife and kids, I realize just how selfish I am being, and how unrealistic what I expect to be, actually is. I want to communicate better in every way, consistently. 
3. I am lowering my expectations in order to live urgently in the moment. The older I get, the faster time goes by. I want to enjoy every single moment I am granted in this life.  I want to live with a heart filled with gratitude, not with resentment. 

We can do this, together.
Until next time,

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Why I (occasionally) rub my wife's feet.

August 4th, 2001, my wedding day. A lot has changed in the past fifteen years, but one thing has not, the vow we took that day. If you're reading this blog with eager anticipation as to the "why" the title proposed, it's simple, and complex. I (occasionally) rub my wife's feet because she loves it when I do so, and (occasionally), I remember that! If you've been married for a while like us, it's easy to get adapted to the mundane routine of life. I've found it's easy to get complacent in marriage.  I don't want my wife to have a complacent marriage. I want her to never lose the joy we shared  the day she walked down aisle and we committed our lives to each other.  I'm realistic, I know that I've changed, and so has she, that does not leave me with an excuse, it leaves me with a great responsibility, to show her I love her through everything we are blessed to experience together.  I need to rub her feet more than just occasionally because it tells her how much I love her, without saying a word.  
What is one way you battle complacency in your marriage? I'd love to hear! 
We can do this, together. 
Until next time,

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Living in the present-tense.

"Wherever you are, be all there." -Jim Elliot
There are moments in our lifetime that define us. They shape our character, they mold our being.
This week as we celebrated my youngest son's birthday, I considered a few of those moments which had occurred in my lifetime. As I thought about these times I determined that one of the reasons they impacted me so greatly is because I was living in, and for, that moment.  I was engaged in it. For some of these moments, I was completely self-aware of the growth I was experiencing at the time, and others, my self awareness was grown after the moment had occurred. 
I wonder what kind of positive impact we could have on this world if we all chose to live more in the present. What could happen if we were more self aware, and more engaged with others  on a personal level. 
The many tragic events in our great nation that have occurred over the past few years have recently motivated me towards the opportunity placed before all of us right now. We can embrace all that is ugly and all that is beautiful, we can live with more empathy and compassion than we ever have before.  We can make a positive impact on the lives around us.  We can do this, together. 
Until next time. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Independent Living

This past weekend we celebrated our nations Independence Day.  In our house, we also celebrated a milestone of independence, as my six year old daughter decided it was time to take the training wheels off of her bike and ride it without them. I was reluctant to say the least, a bit fearful for her safety, but also the state of maturity she is growing into.  Even as I hesitated, I was as excited and nervous as she was to face and conquer a new challenge. As I let go of her bike and she pedaled down the driveway, my smile beamed and my tears glistened in the sunlight as I knew I was letting go of a little bit more than just a bicycle. 
Do you remember what it was like the first time you did something? Do you remember the pride and empowerment you felt by your accomplishment? Everyday we have the opportunity to become more, to overcome our fear, to make this world a better place. What are you doing today to make yourself better than you were yesterday? What will you do to make a positive impact on our world today? We can do this, together.
Until next time.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Who's watching you?

I have a habit.  I like to spit.  Don't know why, just something I've done for years.  That extra saliva in my mouth, I take it, roll it onto my tongue, and spit it out.  I know, it sounds a bit disgusting, because it is!
This past Sunday as I walked my youngest son around the yard (him being on my shoulders), out of habit, I spit on the ground.  Next thing I knew, the top of my head was being showered with spit from the mouth of my three year old son.  I didn't get upset, he was just doing what I did!  He was watching me, imitating me.  He wanted to do what I was doing, just like I did with my Dad when I was his age.
That moment provoked me into thinking about how many other habits I have that are seen on a daily basis, good and bad.  It encouraged me to focus on the good.
We all have areas in our life in which we want to change.  It takes some acknowledgment.  It takes some effort.  Sometimes it takes being literally spit on to take a good look at ourselves and know that we can have a positive impact on the lives around us, if we are willing to do so.  What is standing in the way of us being who we were truly meant to be?
We can do this, together.
Until next time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dad of the Year (Three ways Fatherhood has made my life better)!

This past Sunday was the day of the year our nation sets aside to celebrate Dad's. For the past eight years I've been able to experience the pride of Father's Day.  As I consider those years, I realize how much being a Daddy has changed my life, and I'd like to share three ways in which I have been blessed to experience these positive changes. 
1.  Embracing Self-Doubt.  As much as I want to say that I hold the title of this blog ("Dad of the Year"), I'm far from the title, and the best part is, I can recognize that fact. I don't have all of the answers, and I'm tying to figure it out, day by day. Like every parent, I want what's best for my kids, and many days I end up wondering if I'm doing this parenting thing right. If you're reading this blog right now, I'm ninety-nine percent sure you've had the same thoughts. Let's embrace our self-doubt and allow it to motivate us to be present in our kids lives, and show them how much we love and care for them by being transparent, honest, genuine and compassionate. 
2.  I have experienced true joy. There are memorable, defining moments that occur in our lives, many of them I hope are one's in which you have experienced true joy. The first time I saw and held each of my kids I experienced joy to the fulllest.  Experiencing joy encourages us to lead a life filled with gratitude.
3.  I have become a better problem solver .Life as a Daddy is often unpredictable.  Each day I am faced with unique situation's and circumstances that force me into thinking things through in the hopes to turn thought into positive action, not negative reaction. 

Life is challenging. I'm thankful I have been given the opportunity to face the challenge of parenthood. We can do this, together.
Until next time.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The last time.

This past Sunday as I opened the case and took hold of my 2008 Gibson Les Paul guitar, it occurred to me that the last time I had played it publicly was at the funeral for my good friend's and band-mates Dave and Rita Jennings 
(see more about that day here:  As I picked up and slung the guitar over my shoulder, floods of memories washed over me.  I thought about how many times I had done this same thing in the past, without one thought that this time may be the last time I get to experience these moments, and time spent doing something I love, with people I love.  
Let's take today and consider the precious moments we experience each and every day.
Let's be filled with gratitude. We can do this, together.
Until next time.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I dare you.

It was a beautiful Sunday summer afternoon. My brothers and I sat out on our porch deck railing with some delicious chocolate pudding my Mom had made us for dessert that day. As I sat across from my oldest brother, he took a big spoon full of chocolate pudding, created a catapult with his spoon and hands and pointed it in my direction. I looked at him and his big grin and said "I dare you." 
Before the last word left my lips, he launched the spoon full of pudding at me.  I didn't even have time to move out of the way, and the chocolate pudding hit me right in the eye. 
We erupted in laughter.  My mom, not so much at first, but eventually! 
We experienced this fun little afternoon about thirty years ago, and it seems like only yesterday. 

What will you do today to enjoy life? I dare you to take the chance.

Until next time.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Life is full of surprises.

About a year ago my daily routine was slightly disrupted. Like normal, I got up, got ready, and headed out to work. I stepped out onto my back porch to put my boots on, and a surprise awaited me. As I slid my right foot into my boot, I felt something by my toes. This was not uncommon, as my kids would drop things in there on occasion. As I thought to myself, "what did they drop in there this time?" I felt the thing in my boot begin to wiggle around.  A bit startled, I quickly pulled my foot out of my boot, and turned my boot upside down to dump the thing inside my boot out. 
It didn't come out. 
I had to decide that if I really wanted to wear those boots today, I needed to pull out whatever was in there by hand. I took a deep breath, not sure what I would find, reached in, and pulled out a small garter snake!
As I let out a not-so-manly squeal, I whipped the door open and released the snake back to nature, rapidly, to say the least!
As I stood there in utter disbelief as to what just occurred, I couldn't help but chuckle, thinking, "I could not make this stuff up."
I am completely predictable, and struggle with taking life a bit too seriously at times.  This moment forced me to stop a minute and laugh. It is so good to laugh.  Life is unpredictable at times, let's step out of the perpetual motion we are in, take a look at our lives, and laugh. We can do this, together.
Until next time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What are you wearing?

What is your disposition today? If you're anything like me, it's written all over your face. When I'm experiencing the frustrations and struggles of daily life, and finding it difficult to stay positive, all it takes is one look in the mirror to see the physical toll it has taken. Guess what? It's what everyone else see's too. 
I know the solution. 
When that guy I see in the mirror smiles back at me, my cycle of negativity slows down. My disposition changes. My countenance softens, and I like that guy who's looking back at me!  
Life is challenging. Donning a positive attitude as part of our daily attire will help us make a difference. We can do this, together. 
Until next time,

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Digging Deep.

During the summer of 1994 I had a job working at a summer camp. Half the summer I worked in the kitchen, (meal prepping, washing dishes), and the other half in maintenance (cutting grass, and upkeep of the camp).  It was a great summer, one that I think of often.
One particular task I was given while working maintenance was to locate a leak in an underground waterline. My boss showed me where he thought it may be located, handed me a shovel, and said "it's probably not buried too deep, so dig slowly."
As a headstrong and independent seventeen year old boy, "slowly" was not a word in my vocabulary.
As I pierced the rock embedded soil of NE Pennsylvania with the round point of the shovel, I decided there may be a better tool for the job.  I hiked up to the tool shed and found myself a pick.  I made my way back to where I began to dig and with all my might buried that pick into the ground, pulled, and loosened up the dirt.  I was feeling pretty proud of myself for this brilliant and quick solution, until the fourth swing.  As I swung the pick into the ground for the fourth time I felt a thud, and it occurred to me that it may not be just the soil, and that I had found the buried water-line.  Unconvinced that I had hit the waterline, I yanked on the pick handle, and it came loose, with a burst of water behind it, slapping me in the face, knocking me back, off balance, and drenching me with water and mud.  I quickly tried to put my hand over the spray, but the pressure was too much, and it just got me more wet as I stumbled around wondering what I was going to do, and how I was going to explain this.  Soon, the water pressure subsided to a trickle, and I looked around to see who was watching my foolishness. As I canvased the area, I looked over to see my boss standing at the shut off valve, head hung, looking at me, and then the wet ground.

That day I learned three things:

1. Think things through, develop a plan, listen, and take advice, as my solution is not always the best one.  

2.  It's important to select the right tool for the job.

3. How to repair an inch and a half  poly waterline.

The simple truth is that we often make mistakes in haste.  Mistakes are not "failures" unless we refuse to learn each and every day.

Until next time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Successful Communication.

A few weeks ago, I was able to attend a parenting conference.  I learned something there that encouraged me to change my perspective in communicating with others. I found this very valuable and wanted to share it with you.
The speaker noted that the key to successfully communicating with your kids is understanding.  Immediately this statement hit home, I understood completely what he was saying, and found it relevant to my life as a whole, not only in my role as a parent.  
We all have an innate desire to be heard,  but first, we need to listen. We need to be approachable. We need to seek to understand what it is others are trying to say to us.  Is this frustrating at times? Yes. Does this require extra effort? Yes. Is this a worthy trait to incorporate into our lives to make us a better person? Yes. 
We can do this, together. I'll leave you today with a quote I've recently heard, (from an interview with Darin Kidd), and pray it inspires you as it did me;

"Be strong enough, long enough; be persistent, be consistent; go through it and grow through it."

Until next time.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Rose.

Have you ever gone out of your way, or done something a little bit extra, just to make someone in your life feel special?
Growing up, I used to love to ride along with my Dad in the summertime. He'd take me along to visit people, or just to run errands.  Most days if we went South from our home, we'd end up stopping by my Grandpa Thomas's farm.
Grandpa Thomas had a passion for gardening, and he always shared what he grew.  I remember every time we would stop, he would send home flowers from his garden to my Mom.  The flower I remember the most were the roses.  He grew the most beautiful roses you have ever seen.  Big, tip your vase over, vibrant roses, in all colors.
He could have left them right on the vine and kept them all to himself, but instead, he knew how much my Mom enjoyed the beauty and fragrant aroma of the rose, and he never let us leave without sending Dad home with a bouquet for Mom.
What will you do today to make someone in your life feel special?  Small, generous acts can have a positive, profound, and lasting impact on someones life.  Let's do this, together.
Until next time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Surviving Criticism.

Over six months ago, a good friend of mine gave me a healthy serving of humble pie.  He commented on an aspect of my personality in which I needed to change in order to be a better person.  It hurt.  I wanted to reply and respond negatively, attack him, comment on his personality, but I couldn't.  I knew he cared about me, and that he was trying to help me.  I looked deep down inside, I admitted to myself that he was right, and if I ever wanted to be a better person, I needed to seek to improve this area of my life.  

So how do we do it? How do we respond to criticism? Here's three things to consider:

1.  Listen, don't react.  Think about what the person was saying.  Talk to someone that really knows who you are about it.  You can, and will, discern if the criticism was malicious, or done with good intent.  

2.  Be honest with yourself.  Are you actively dis-engaged from your surroundings?  Are you considering that there are aspects of your personality that are great, and some that can be better?  Are you limiting yourself because you are afraid to address your weaknesses?  Being vulnerable will make you stronger.

3.  Be prepared.  Take personal inventory on a regular basis.  Invest in relationships with people you can relate to, one's you energize and challenge you.  You'll get to know yourself better, and be prepared when you are faced with situations that question who you are.  You will gain strength amidst the struggle.  

Bottom line, I'm no expert, just someone who's experienced some of these things and want you to know that you're not alone when you face personal struggle.  We can overcome, we can do it together.

Until next time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Disrupt your routine.

I am a man of routine. I crave order. I thrive with organization. I don't do spontaneous. Me and Mr. Banks(from the movie "Mary Poppins"), we're on the same level. So when a pipe froze and burst in my home a few months ago, unleashing its unbridled destruction of flooding waters throughout, needless to say, it caused my neatly crafted walls of a structured life to come crashing down!
Let's face it, as hard as we try to control life, we still are going to experience chaos at times. This is the time when we find out who we really are.  Over the past few months, I have experienced more personal growth than I have in years. I have been forced to step out of my routine, (and comfort zone) in order to carry on in life. People who care about me depended on me to do so. I faced a choice, I could give up or rise up.  I chose the latter.  Did I like who I was at times throughout this struggle? Absolutely not.  I'll be the first to admit, when I face challenges, my weaknesses are very visible. It's not easy, but I want to be a better person today than I was yesterday, and if that takes being vulnerable, exposing and admitting my weakness in order to experience personal growth and be stronger, it's a step I'm willing to take. I can't say I want to experience this type of disruption to my routine again anytime soon, but looking back on it, I'm thankful for the experience. 
How about you? Can you disrupt your routine intentionally? (I'm not suggesting bursting a water line in your home...) Can you challenge yourself, be vulnerable, and expose your weaknesses to become stronger? Maybe you have?! Maybe you've faced circumstances beyond your control, and have learned and grown from it.  I'd love to hear about it! Let's rise up and face this day, and be better than we were yesterday, even if it disrupts your normal routine.
Until next time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Finding Inspiration In Others

Two weeks ago in a blog titled "Humor Me Luke" I introduced you to a mentor of mine named Ted Hirsch.  Today I want to stay along those lines and take a few minutes to introduce you to my wife Bridget, and a mentor and friend of hers, Billie.
Bridget inspires me every single day.  She is one of the hardest working people you will ever meet. She is a Mom and Entrepreneur.  She owns and operates a successful photography business, as well as a successful business in Network Marketing, or Direct Sales.  She challenges me to be social (it's a big challenge at times!).  Through Bridget, I've made some great friends.  One of those people is Bridget's friend and mentor in her Network Marketing business, Billie.  Billie has been very successful in Network Marketing (hitting top level in November of 2015, only thirteen months after beginning her career in Direct Sales), and she currently leads a team of 930 women.  I wanted to take a minute and discuss with Billie what she finds inspiring, energizing, and how she keeps a balance of her personal and professional life.  Below is my short interview with her, and a picture of her and her family.
I hope today you take the time to find inspiration in the incredible people around you, and it motivates you to be the best you can be.
Until next time.

What attracted you initially to become a Network Marketing Professional?  “My decision to become a Network Marketing professional was extremely impulsive. I purchased a product from my friend, fell in love, visited her website, and joined. That was it. I didn’t know a thing about the company, other than the awesome product I bought, didn’t know a thing about network marketing, and didn’t have a clue where to begin… but I was EXCITED! I QUICKLY learned this was a HUGE opportunity for me to build a successful business, help a lot of other women do the same, fill the void I had, AND, still be able to do it all from home while raising our girls. I became OBSESSED with the business and the potential it possessed, dove head first into learning everything I could, worked my butt off, and made my goal to hit the top level of the company by my one year anniversary. I fell short 1 month, but I’ll take it!”

What is one thing you do on a daily basis that you find vital to your personal development?  “I find it not just critical to my success, but absolutely necessary, to feed my mind positivity and good every single day! I read books, watch motivational videos, attend church regularly,  research success stories, listen to positive, upbeat music (Matthew West being my current favorite), and read inspirational quotes ALL.THE.TIME. I believe that you cannot have a positive life with a negative mind, and it definitely requires time and effort. If you don’t do it daily, START! Like, NOW! It is life-changing and, without a doubt, a HUGE part of the success I’ve had.”

Are there any resources that you would share in which you feel contributed greatly to your success? Being an online-based business, my main go-to resources were just that, online. Everything in network marketing is duplicatable, so again, not knowing anything about network marketing, I sought out, and followed our industries top leaders.
  • I watch what top leaders in Network marketing did on their social media pages, visited their websites, and watched/read the training materials they had available. I put my own spin on what I saw and went to work.
  • I did a ton of research and learned everything I could from some of our industries legends, Eric Worre, Jim Rohn, and Tony Robbins.
  • I cannot talk about my success without giving credit to my parents. Growing up I had a strong work ethic instilled in me, and the confidence to believe I could do anything I set my mind to. I believe that to this day and pray I’m instilling the same in our girls!

What fuels your passion to be the best you can be?Knowing I CAN fuels my passion! I have a strong “WHY NOT” attitude. I have believed my entire life that if you were going to do something, WHY NOT do it as best as you can! Since I was a little girl, I KNEW I was going to do something really incredible...  something truly great… I just never knew what it was until now. Everything happens for a reason and the law of attraction is POWERFUL. This opportunity found me, I believe that, and I hardly focus on WHY I’m doing what I’m doing, or WHY I’m working as hard as I am, but rather WHY NOT! The sky is the limit and I plan to continue to take full advantage of that. To not only be able to change my family’s life, but help change the lives of as many others around me as I can, is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I’m 110% certain this is where I’m meant to be.

What do you define as a "win" when balancing your personal and professional life?  “Balancing work and my personal life was, and continues to be, where I have struggled most. It’s hard to “shut it off” with the crazy amount of passion and drive I have for my business and my team, BUT, like anything, you can ALWAYS find a way to make it work if you want to. My approach has been to involve my family where I can, continue to share my goals with them so they know why I’m working as often as I do, and celebrate successes with them. A win for me is any day I see excitement on my FAMILY’S face towards my business.” 

We both share a love for music, what is your "go to" jam these daysI currently love anything by Matthew West, have a total girl crush on Adele, and ALWAYS have Jack Johnson on Pandora when I need and/or want some chill music in my life. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Locking In Your Focus.

In 1994, my senior year at Blue Ridge High School, our soccer coach Lloyd Elling planned something that all of us on the team thought was a little bit crazy at the time.  Looking back, I completely understand his logic in purpose to help us win the game that day.  What was the method that Coach Elling attempted to use you ask?  It went like this;  we live in a small town, and some of the school district's in which we competed with required quite a bit of travel time.  The team we were facing that day was one of our toughest opponents, and the furthest distance from our school (about an hour and a half bus ride).  As we all loaded up onto the bus, he handed us a key on a string.  As we settled into our seats he began to explain, in order to win the game, we needed to focus.  We needed to clear our minds, and focus on what it would take to win.  We needed to create a positive mindset, a mental edge. The key was an inanimate object with a duel meaning.  The key  to victory is focus.  

We lost the game that day, but we all took away a valuable lesson.  We learned that the key to success, win or lose, is our focus.   

What is your focus today?  Is it fixated on the negative?  Are you distracted and frustrated?  I experience these things I just mentioned, and am drawn back to the day on that bus, and realize that I need to take control of that key  and lock in my focus.  Life will beat us up every single day if we allow it to.  Or we can direct our  focus on being the best we can be.  Thank you Coach Elling. 

Until next time.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Humor Me Luke...

Do you have a mentor, someone in your life who inspires and challenges you to be the best you can be?
A mentor and inspiration to me was a man named Ted Hirsch.  I began working for Ted when I was twenty years old, and worked for him the next six years.  Ted owned a local farm and home supply store, I worked there every Saturday while attending college, and getting started in my career.  One of the tasks I had on Saturday was to do the store inventory so Ted could prepare the ordering for the upcoming week.  Every so often, something in my count wouldn't seem right to Ted, and he would gently ask me to check on it again.  I was often resistant to his urging, and would tell him I was sure my count was correct, and he would always reply "humor me Luke, just humor me."  Upon this request, I would go and check, and typically found that he was right.  Through his example, I learned a lot about the success of a solid work ethic.  I want to share with you today some qualities I saw in Ted that he passed on to me.  Through these next few things, I ask you to look deep inside yourself, challenge yourself to always give one-hundred percent, and do your best.  You can have a powerful and positive influence on someone's life by the one that you lead.

Be consistent in your personal growth. Don't stand still.  Seek out ways to learn every single day.  What are you passionate about?  What energizes you?  Do those things, do them often.

Complete the task at hand.  Make a goal, see it through, succeed or fail.  Do what you say you are going to do.

Re-set daily.  Take time in your day to mentally re-focus and re-charge.  It could be as simple as stepping out for a bowl of soup mid-day like Ted used to do.

What will you do today?  Will you work hard to be the best you can be?  You're going to face adversity, you're going to face struggles. You're going to shine through it. 

Until next time.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Just a glance.

Have you ever considered the power of just a glance? It could be a gentle look of love, a hot dart of passion, a dagger of judgment, a silent cry for help, or just a blank and apathetic stare.
This weekend I was with my three kids at a major retailer, and things were going pretty well! No meltdowns, not too much whining, a lot of laughing, and good manners. All in all, I was winning the battle of parenting that day. As I stepped into the checkout line and began to unload the cart, my little natives began to be restless.  My eldest son started dancing in place, my daughter went down the list of the 150 impossible to answer questions in 20 seconds, and my youngest just requested I purchase him gum, over and over and over and over.....
As I placed my final item on the conveyor belt, I looked up at the cashier and noticed her seemingly unhappy, disapproving, and judgemental glances directed toward us. 
At first, I wanted to react negatively, throw my own version of a furled eyebrow in her direction, but this time, I stopped.  I suddenly softened my defensiveness and considered that I have no idea what her life is like. I had no idea what she may be experiencing today. As this thought crossed my mind I decided to do something contrary to my nature. I decided to offer a gentle warm gaze with a smile. Not an angry "how dare you judge us" look that was my initial reaction, but something that may make her day better, even just for a moment.  After I did this, I noticed her countenance change significantly. The look of disdain disappeared from her face, she even reached down underneath her drawer and gave my kids stickers!
I want to live better, I want to be more positive. I want to show others love and respect.  
We can do this together. Sometimes all it takes is just a glance.
Until next time.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Why We Remember.

Ten years ago this week the lives of my family changed forever. A decision made by a man to drive while intoxicated took the life of my then five year old niece, Megan Thomas. I remember every detail of that night. From being detoured on my drive home from work, to the call from my Dad to hurry to the fire hall to find out which hospital the helicopter was going to transport her to. The looks on the faces of the volunteer EMS personnel who were on scene. My brother Sam's pale hands clutched together to keep from trembling while driving him to the hospital (not aware yet of the outcome, only knowing that she had been hurt). The hug from my Dad as he whispered "she's gone" in my ear, and so much more.  

I want to tell you why we remember Megan. 

We remember because we want to.
We want to share and relive every precious moment that we were able to spend together.  There is not a day that goes by that I don't embrace my kids and think about the strength that my brother and Sister in Law, Sam and Marcy, possess. They hurt, and they live on, encouraging others through their lifestyle.

We remember because we love.  In the past ten years, we have grown closer as a family. We hug more, we say "I love you" more, we are more sensitive and understanding of others pain. We allow ourselves to be a little more vulnerable. We recognize the brevity of life.

We remember in order to forgive.  Forgiveness is one of the most difficult things you will ever have to take on in this life. It is not natural, but it is necessary in order to continue living your life through the pain. It can be a daily process, and struggle. Bitterness will destroy the person you were made to be. 

You may have experienced personal tragedy, we all will experience loss. We can choose to live a life filled with positive remembrance, and make this life one worth living.
Until next time. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

For better or worse (three ways to love your spouse better than you are right now).

This coming August, my wife and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary, and 22nd year together in a committed relationship. Among the chaos of our daily career, social activities, raising three amazing kids, and finding a balance there within, I find myself searching for ways to show Bridget how, even though our lives are constantly changing, my love for her has not, and that it has actually grown each and every day we live our lives together. Here are three things that I've found that we can do to show our spouse just how much we love them.

 1.  Be an active listener.  We all have something to say, and we all want to be heard.  We will have that opportunity if we start by taking a step back and finding the key to communication; listening.  In raising three kids under the age of ten, our uninterrupted time of key communication is limited, so very often I need to really focus on what Bridget is saying to me. If I don't focus on this, we become disconnected, and our relationship suffers.

2.  Daily affirmation.  Six weeks ago my best friend and I decided to run a short experiment, which was as follows; every day for a week, we made an intentional statement of affirmation (written, or verbal)  with the purpose of letting our wives know what we love about them.  There were positive results! Who doesn't love to be told what is amazing about themselves?  Confidence is sexy! Doing this small act helps us to transition from a mindset of selfish love, to selfless love.

3.  Give them space.  Everyone needs some down-time. Encourage your spouse to spend some time doing something they love, spend time with their friends, or just to use the bathroom without the kids or dog in tow! 

Fact is, all of these things require some effort on our part, and yet, a little bit of effort can yield unprecedented results! So rise above and take the initiative! Your spouse deserves it. 
Until next time. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Running into the darkness.

Do you have a family vacation that stands out in your memory? In 1982 my parents planned a family vacation to Niagra Falls, Canada. It was epic. There is one thing specific that I remember from the trip, a pit stop at some friends of my parents, who also happened to own a pig farm. Being five years old, I could not wait to see those pigs, the tractors, and anything else they had on this farm. I don't know for sure, but I can bet you that I drove my parents almost to the point of crazy asking the details of this excursion (I need the details!!).  When we arrived and got settled in, it was finally time to take the tour of the farm, and see the pigs. I can still feel the excitement! As we entered the door to the barn, the lights were out and it was pitch black. Dad was holding my hand and telling me to wait until the lights were turned on, I could not wait, I broke free of his hand holding mine and ran into the darkness.
The next thing I remember was the floor disappearing from under my feet, I fell. Don't worry! I didn't fall far, only about twelve inches, directly into the manure trough (or "drop" for you country folk out there like me!).  Right about the time I got to my hands and knees the barn lights came on, and to my embarassement, I discovered exactly where I had ended up.  Next, Dad lifted me up out of the drop, made sure I was ok, quickly forgave me, and we looked at the pigs (I got cleaned up before we got back into the car!).  
What about you? Have you ever ran into the darkness only to fall?  Life experience teaches us discernement, valuable lessons to shape our lives, and form who we are today. Let's keep on living this life and learning who we are along the way!
Until next time.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Bubbling Waters.

Everyone needs a good friend. The guy standing next to me in the picture below is a good friend of mine, his name is Joe. Joe is a very hard worker, great father and husband, amazing outdoorsman, and a guy I love to be around. Once you meet him, you'll never forget him. One thing Joe and I like to do together is to go fishing. I want to tell you about a time Joe and I went fishing at a local spot to us called Tingley Lake. 
It was early one morning on the Fourth of July, I think in 2009.
We were having a heat wave, and it was about 70 degrees when we set out at 5:30am. 
We fished for about an hour, and had no luck. We rowed our way around the entire lake hoping to find a spot to cast and land the lunker. Nothing.
Then, just as the sun began to clear the trees and cast its rays on the water, it started to happen. The water started to bubble, just like a rolling boil.
We looked at each other with excitement, I grabbed the oars, Joe got his pole ready, and I rowed as fast and hard as I could to get us to the bubbling water.  Once we got close, Joe cast his line, and as soon as his lure hit the water, BAM! Fish on! Joe reeled it in, released it back to the water, and cast at the bubbling water again, BAM! Another catch. He reeled it in, released it, and the bubbles dissipated. Then, far across the lake, we hear, and then see, the bubbling water.  I grab the oars, row fast and hard, Joe gets ready, and the same thing happens. We continued to do this for about twenty minutes, and then the top water fish feeding frenzy was done for the day, and we called it a good day for fishing!
So I ask you, what opportunity is bubbling right next to you today? Are you ready to work hard to get to it?  Maybe it's just as simple as spending some time with a good friend. 
Until next time.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

1 - 56

Between 1992 and 1994 (my sophomore and junior years in high school) I lost about fifty-six wrestling matches (in my estimation). This summed up my high school wresting career. I wasn't the best wrestler, I would conclude I was one of the worst. Of those fifty-six matches, I really only faintly remember the details of three of those losses, and they were close matches that went all six minutes. 
I can tell you what I do remember, every single detail; my one win.
I remember the day, the tournament, the opponent, the slap of the mat that signaled a pin, the shouts of my team-mates, coaches and family, the pure exhilaration, excitement, and pride I felt as the referee raised my hand in victory, and the next practice when our coach acknowledged my win among the rest of my team. 
That was one of the last matches of my wrestling career, meaning prior to my one win, I lost at least 50 times! 
I didn't quit, and I knew that if I went out there and gave it my all, the possibility always existed for me to win. For a long time, I was embarrassed by my wrestling career, but as I look back on it now, it was a great career, not in terms of success, but growth. 
Persistence doesn't always result in success, but it does shape your character - it remains your choice to view the results in a positive or negative manner, and whether or not to learn from the experience and to live your life better than it was before. 
What are you determined to be persistent in today? Is it shaping your character? Are you being positive, and living your life better as a result?
Until next time.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Trial and Hair-or.

For the past three months I've been performing an experiment. This process was not scientifically based or funded, or even performed in a controlled environment.  It was simply me, trying to grow hair on my head. 
You see, I used to have long hair, 20 years ago. Then I became a recipient of male pattern baldness, and no matter how much I tried, I could do nothing to grow back  that hair I once had. The struggle is real. 
So for the past three months, I thought maybe a miracle would occur, and even though my hairline has receded, and my crown had thinned, I would grow some of what I once had back!
Epic Fail. Thick on the sides and back, not so much up top. 
Then, as I looked in the mirror it occurred to me. I'm not who I once was, and I'm ok with that. 
Let's take today and be who we are! Dont let your past define the person you are today.
Take a good look in the mirror and love that person you see, you deserve it!
Until next time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Candy Bar

I grew up the youngest of 5 kids. My Dad  is a retired Preacher. One thing that stands out in my mind about growing up are the many Sunday evenings spent together as a family. Most Sunday nights after church Dad would take a short trip downtown and come home with 6 candybars (one for Mom too!). Then, we'd all gather at the table as he revealed one by one the kind of candybars he had brought back. Great  anticipation built among us to see if he had remembered to bring back our favorite (which he always did). Then, one by one, we'd each select a candy bar, (we knew who liked what, so it usually went that way - although, being the youngest, and having a skin allergy attributed to chocolate, it really only left me with one choice in a candy bar, which usually led me to making the first selection; win-win!).
The point is, Dad and Mom didn't have to do this, but through a simple act of buying a $.50 treat, it showed us love and kindness, which created a lasting impact on me!
So I ask you, what can you do today to show someone love and kindness?  Don't wait, let's do it today!
Until next time.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Who Is This Man (in my body)?

My wife and I have a love hate relationship with our living room fireplace.  We love to sit and watch its flames flicker,  listen to its soft crackle, and feel it's warmth. In order to enjoy those things, I first have to light it, (the hate!), and get it to burn. There are times in which this presents me with quite a challenge!

I am an amateur at this fireplace game, and lighting that fire can bring out the person inside of me that only my closest friends and family know.  He's the guy I fight to repress and replace every single day, because I know I can be, and do, better than my most primal nature. 
This man battles negative thoughts and insecurity, outbursts of rage, depression, and physical pain. Some days this battle is completely exhausting and defeating, and some days it is victorious.

Today, I'm going to get to know who I really am a little bit more. I'm going to focus on the victory. I'm going to focus on the positive. 
You can do it too! Let's light that fire and enjoy every second this life has to offer!

Until next time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What a souper day.

One thing I love to do in the winter months is making home-made soup.  This past Sunday I made a hearty turkey vegetable. Here are three reasons why I find this simple act a privilege.
1. It allows me to be creative and spontaneous.  Soup does this? Absolutely! I never use a recipe, and just go at it on the fly! This is completely opposite of my everyday life, so this offers a bit of change to my normal tendencies. 
2. I love the affirmation.  I really feel loved when my wife tells me how good the soup tastes! Plus, it is very satisfing to know I've helped her a little by cooking dinner, and that she enjoyed it. 
3. It helps me reminisce. I am so blessed by the memories of growing up in a loving home with the occasional dinner of "lunch meat stew." Dad is a pro at creating never heard of concoctions of leftovers and things hiding in the fridge, and turning them into tasty soups! I like to think he passed down his soup making skills to me. 
Whatever you decide to do today, do something that is fulfilling, and take pride in knowing you've taken the step to do it, even if it's just making some soup!
Until next time.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Moving On When It Hurts.

September 2015 was a month that changed my life. 
It began with the unexpected loss of a young man who's newly formed friendship had a profound impact on my life. As I led worship at Jordan's funeral, I was completely humbled and blessed as I looked around at the many, many lives he had positively impacted during the short time he was on this earth.
The month ended with the tragic loss of a couple in my life who, even though we didn't share the same family tree, we were family. As I sit and write this, grief still overwhelms me. 
As I consider the day we remembered Dave and Rita, as I sang the words to songs we played together for so many years, I was filled with equal amounts of joy, pain, and peace. What an amazing legacy of love they left us. 
As I consider these relationships, and thank God for them, I am inspired by the way they lived with transparency and passion, and I have to ask myself these questions:
Did I make a difference in their lives, like they did in mine? Did I show them love?
Am I taking people in my life for granted?
As much as the loss of these friends still hurts today, the relationship that I was able to share with them encourages me to carry on, and live a life that impacts  others. 
September 2015 taught me the importance of living this life, together.
Until next time.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What Motivates You?

I've always been the type of person who likes a challenge. 
My favorite class in high school was English. I loved the content of the literature, as well as the antagonistic nature of the teacher whom prompted me to think independently and always do my best work.
I remember a specific situation during my senior year in which I was given a failing grade on my mid-term exam because instead of writing what was discussed in class per the question, I wrote my own interpretation. Graciously, my teacher met with my Dad and I and allowed me to prove I knew the material and had studied it. He then also allowed me to explain how I had come to write the answer I did.  When all was said and done, my paper was re-graded, and I passed. 
This set a precedence in my life, it proved to me that I can be successful by being prepared, thinking independently, and working hard! 
There have been many times in my life since then in which I've failed, and circumstances haven't turned out as favorable as they did with the mid-term exam. 
One thing has held true from then until now, I've learned from my victories, and my failures, and have celebrated both.  I don't have everything figured out, and that's ok.
I don't know what challenge you may be facing today, but I do know that you are valuable, and you can impact this world in a positive way when you are the change you want to see. 
This life is challenging, keep on learning, be passionate about it, and don't give up.
Until next time.