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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.