Image           Image

 

 

This is the first time in 45 years of life that I will not see my mom on Mother’s Day. It is also the first time in 11 years that I will not be with my wife on mother’s day. School is to blame for this unfortunate turn of events but, as always, they understand and love me anyway. I thought I would write a few thoughts about something God has truly blessed me with and as a result I hope this is a blessing to them and to all of the moms in my hemisphere.

When I think about moms, I can’t separate my mom and my wife. They are both tied together in my life as my mom, well is my mom…and my wife is the mother of my children. So below are some things they have in common and I reap the blessings from it.

  1. I know Jesus because of them. My mom has prayed for me everyday, I’m pretty sure, for my entire life. Her prayers probably make up 90% of the reason I came to know Christ. I just think God became worn out with it all. Seriously my mom and wife epitomize what “Christlikeness” means. My relationship with Jesus is stronger because of them. I love my Jesus lovers.
  1. She is a protector. They have both protected our family in every way. They have fought battles for me many I have never seen. My wife has done the same for my children. God has placed them here to watch over me and I am better for it. I love my protectors.
  1. She is an advocate. My mom and my wife are my biggest fan. They have championed my name when many have not and they have supported my decisions the good and the bad all in the name of support. They have been in my corner when frankly I have thought they shouldn’t. They fight for what’s right and they don’t back down from the call of Christ. I love my advocates.
  1. She is a servant leader. I would challenge anyone to find two people more caring then my mom and my wife. They both constantly put the needs of others before themselves. I cannot imagine all my mom has sacrificed in the name of her sons, and I know what my wife has sacrificed for her husband. People seek advice from them and listened to their instruction. The lead from a place of humility and grace, listening to the needs of others and guiding the way. I love my servant leaders.
  1. She is a comforter. Both of these ladies have the ability to make the bad feel ok. My mom has been through some tough times — she has had to attend the funerals of her brother, mom, dad, sister and my dad’s dad, brother and mom. Through it all SHE has been the one everyone turns to for comfort. My wife is the one we all turn to when things are rough. Make no mistake about it, when things are not going well in my house the words, “I want mommy” win out. I love my comforters.
  1. She is a provider. These two ladies have provided so much to so many for so long. They both see the need to help keep others going. The encouragement, love, grace and mercy they both exhibit is Christlike in every form. They have provided me with both encouragement and correction exactly when I needed it. I have listened and it is partly why God has had mercy on me. I love my providers.

I could write a lot more but I think I will save the rest for when I see them in person. The fact that God blessed me with two women who contain many of the same Christlike qualities gives me hope that He must have a great plan in store for me. It is because of this I strive to be the best son and husband I can be every day.

I pray that your relationship with your mom and wife is the same and if it’s not repair, reconcile or do whatever you need to do to make it so. Let your mom and wife know how much you appreciate and love them.

Blessings!

Because of Her…

May 1, 2014 — 3 Comments

Image

Today I celebrate my wife’s birthday. This has always been an easy day for me to remember because it is on May 1st. I am not so sure I would be as successful in my celebration if it was on a day in the middle of the month. I consider myself a good gift giver, though I don’t really do cards. Monica is not that into gifts, though she has never turned one down, her love language is quality time. I have already given her a gift and she can share it if she wishes and I will spend a lot of time with her this weekend so I thought, since she is a splendid writer, that I would write a blog in honor of her. I call it Because of Her…

 

  • Because of her, I have strived, every day, to grow closer to Jesus. She sets a high bar for me but I know the closer I get to Him         the closer we will grow together.
  • Because of her, I work to become a great husband. I have never loved someone as much as I love her nor have I felt the amount of love as I feel from her. This love pushes me to give my best.
  • Because of her, I desire to become the best father. She is the BEST mom. I am not really in her league but her presence in my children’s lives guides me to be a dad they can respect and love.
  • Because of her, I don’t quit. I am a very passionate person and can get caught up in emotions and desires that can be deflating. She keeps me grounded and never let’s me quit. Because she is not a quitter I refuse to be one myself.
  • Because of her, the world is just a better place. One of Monica’s nicknames is “silver” because I claim she finds the silver lining in everything. I think we need more “silvers” in the world. I am blessed she is mine.
  • Because of her, I laugh. She makes me laugh, many times not intentionally. We have a great time no matter what we do. Laughter is so important in a marriage and we have a truck load.
  • Because of her, I could have just about any job, anywhere (that’s not too hot), making whatever money. She has always supported who I am over what I do. That means a lot to a husband because too many of us define our lives by what we do, when really it is all about who we are.
  • Because of her, people like me. I make no bones about it, most people like and tolerate me because of Monica, I am not blind to it. Heck even my parents, brother and his wife think she is the greatest. So I’ll ride on her coattails because they are some beautiful, grace filled, merciful, faithful tails to ride.
  • Because of her, I answer my phone. I am not a big phone talker. I really don’t know why. But I do take her calls. We literally talk on the phone 3-4 times a day. The conversations are not long but I love to hear her voice.
  • Because of her, I can’t wait to get home. I love to work and I feel that I work pretty hard but honestly I can’t wait to get home at night or from a trip. The reason is, I can’t wait to see her and be with her. It’s the truth she is the type of person you want to be around and I get to do it everyday.

There is ton more I could write but I will save the rest for some intimate time together with her, HELLO!! I know too much information.

I hope you will join me in celebrating Monica Steely’s birthday today just because of her…

Thanks!!

Knowledge - light

I am coming off my seven-day social media fast, and though I missed being able to share things with everyone, I did find the time away nice.

A couple weeks ago I shared five books with you that I thought would be great books for the new year. This week, I would like to share five books I am currently reading. If you do the math — it’s 10 book ideas for you this year!

1. Pivotal Praying by Tim Elmore and John Hull. As I mentioned in my previous post, I read this book at the beginning of every year. There are a lot of books on prayer, but this is full of stories and great application.

2. How to Be Rich by Andy Stanley. I love Andy Stanley books because the are so incredibly practical. This book is all about recognizing how rich you are and how rich you can be in many areas of your life.

3. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I have underlined almost everything in this book. It can be a little heady — you can’t just skim it. But it’s excellent for establishing good habits and breaking bad ones.

4. Global Explorers: The Next Generation of Leaders by Stewart J. Black. I am in school, so honestly I have to put in a book that I’m reading for school. This is a great book about the essentials of Global Leadership and how the world is in desperate need of it.

5. Happy, Happy, Happy by Phil Robertson and Mark Schlabach. This is the biography I am reading now. I attempt to read at least 4 biographies per year. Many of you are familiar with Phil and Duck Dynasty. Very intriguing story of the rise to fame.

Hopefully one of these books will help you in some are of your life. Enjoy and good reading!!

Photo ©iStock.com/sansara

library of old books

As we all begin the new year, I thought I would mention 5 books I have found to be very profound and helpful for me personally. Later I will share what books I am reading now.

Great leaders are always in the process of taking advantage of opportunities and training to be better. (tweet that)

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Incredible true story of inspiration, survival and perseverance.

2. 7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas. The compact stories of seven great leaders in world history and what drove them toward greatness.

3. Becoming a Strategic Leader by Richard Hughes and Katherine Beatty. This is a great book for any leader looking to increase the effectiveness of your role in your organization.

4. The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. Great read on how to energize your life, work and organization.

5. Pivotal Praying by John Hull and Tim Elmore. I re-read this book at the beginning of every year. It helps me to get back focused on the power of prayer and it’s effectiveness in times of great need.

These are five books I believe will help you in every area of your life. Like I said earlier, I will list the books I am reading now a little later.

Enjoy!!

My Planning Process

January 6, 2014 — 2 Comments

My New Year Plan

Years ago, a good friend of mine, Tim Elmore, got me hooked on a process that has really impacted my life. Tim encouraged me to develop a strategic plan for the new year. The process included spending time looking back at the previous year, and then looking forward to the year ahead. I wanted to share the process I go through with you. I have made some modifications to what Tim does. You can follow Tim’s amazing work at www.growingleaders.com. He has his process listed on his blog. Enjoy!

Like I said, I spend about half a day looking back at the previous year. I journal a lot, so it’s easy for me to look back at the details of the year and the bigger events are pretty easy to recall. I always look at seven main areas of my life and see how I did in accomplishing the goals and dreams I had set, and where I achieved beyond my desires and where did I not do such a great job. My seven areas are:

  1. Spiritually
  2. Marriage
  3. Fatherhood
  4. Ministry
  5. School (I am getting my doctorate and it is a huge part of my life right now so I include it)
  6. Relationships
  7. Leadership

I ask the following questions:

  1. Did I grow in this area? If so, where and how?
  2. Did I benefit the growth of others in this area? If so, how?
  3. What was the one thing I am most proud of in this area?
  4. What is the one thing I am least proud of in this area?
  5. Was my strategy for each area effective? Why or why not?
  6. Did I fulfill the mission of my Life Sentence (this is essential and I will blog on this later) this past year?

Once I complete this process, I send a day looking forward and setting goals (actually, I like the term dreams better than goals). Tim Elmore calls his items “action lists” or “standard lists” which I love! This process looks like the following:

  1. What is the main dream I have in each of my seven areas? What will be needed in order to achieve this? (I use a Dream Chart that I developed in order to complete this process. A Dream Chart looks at where you are [Now] and where you want to be [Dream] and then maps out all of the steps required to get you there.)
  2. Of my 7 areas which areas do I need the most growth?
  3. What resources will I need for the required growth? (i.e., books, seminars, counseling, coaching, web sites, podcasts etc. I decide all of this at the beginning of the year and map out a schedule of when and where.)
  4. I map out my entire year. Monica and I do this together. We set date nights, family date days, vacations, major events on our calendar at the beginning of the year. These are non-negotiable!!
  5. Monica and I set family goals. What are one or two things we are really going to try and teach the kids this year? Last year it was patience and courage. We also set financial goals for the year and plan purchases for our house, what and to who we support financially, gifts, etc.
  6. I have a weekly chart that I use to account for pretty much every hour of my day Sunday – Saturday. I do have free areas where nothing is planned in order to account for surprises as well as provide me with down time.

My dream is that I continue to grow in all areas and the best way to do that is to learn from the past and plan the future. I believe just about any dream can be achieved with a good strategy, regardless if it is losing weight, changing jobs, buying a new car, building relationships, etc. My dreams are only as good as the strategies I implement. (you can tweet that)

Have a great new year!!

How Do You Plan?

April 30, 2013 — Leave a comment

Hand drawing empty diagram

I have to admit that I am a planner. In fact, it is diffcult for me to operate without a plan. One of the things that really makes my marriage to Monica work is the fact that I am a planner and she is not, so our plans never really compete against one another.

I joke when I say she is not a planner — she does plan, but she is not obsessed like I am. In fact, our nine year-old, Jaana, may be more of a planner than both of us. I have turned her into an obsessive planner, which may be deemed child abuse in some circles but I deem it as I have created a girl who is always ready.

All joking aside I do believe planning is very important and I believe it is something we don’t do a good job of, especially when it comes to our life. I am going to do a series of podcasts on planing your life and the importance of balance, so I thought I would give you a taste of what’s to come.

Why should we plan?

1. Planning prepares us for the unexpected. Many people may say that planning takes away spontaneity. I would argue that planning better prepares us for spontaneity. I know the definition of spontaneous is impulse, but I believe if we have a plan for our life then we are better able to be impulsive in a constructive way. There are impulses that can work in our plan…if we have a plan for our marriage, then we can be impulsive about a date night or writing a note to our spouse. Planning can free up the time to be impulsive.

2. Planning can prevent regrets. We have all had regrets. I think it was Elvis who said, “Regrets, I’ve had a few.” There are too many people walking around in a sea of regret. If they had only had a plan for their life, the regret could have been avoided. For example, it took me 14 years to get my undergraduate degree in college. My plan was not to take 14 years to accomplish this. If I simply had a plan I could have avoided this regret. Oh and by the way for those of you saying, “Yeah, but look what you learned and the lessons you were taught during the process” I will speak to you specifically in some upcoming blogs.

3. Planning is already a part of our life. I know some of you may say, “I don’t know how to plan.” I am going to help you in the coming weeks, but understand one thing — you already plan. I mean, most of us plan when to take in our car for service, or how long we will sleep at night. We plan what route we will take to work, what we will do at work…you get the idea. We were created to plan because our Creator planned to create us and the world. We were born to plan.

This is just the beginning of how we will plan together. Over the next few weeks I will help learn how to develop a plan for your life. Once you have a plan the execution is easy and the results are pure awesomeness!!

Are you ready?!?!

DREAM BIG

As I continue through this blog series on dreams and desires, I have found myself looking farther into the future and thus expanding my dreams. I think it would be appropriate to say here that dreaming without action is just a thought. For a dream to be a dream, it has to be something that we are willing to work toward.

Now I have gone and done it, I have said the four letter word… “work.”

Pursuing our dreams takes work. I remember the first time I watched my son, Paxton, when he was just two years old, sitting at the bottom of the stairs watching his older sister bound up the stairs. I could tell he wanted to go up those stairs so bad — for his little life, this was a big dream. Every time after this first time, after she went up again, he would climb one stair. This one stair took a lot of work but he kept trying and working. Now, at three, he climbs them with no help and he gets faster every time.

His dream took work and our dreams take work.

So I’ve have talked about why dreaming is important and why we don’t dream, so now I want to talk about how we dream big.

1. The first step to dreaming big is to identify what it is you desire. Start with identifying ONE thing you desire over anything else. This is the beginning of a dream. Maybe you desire a better marriage or a new career. Maybe you desire world peace. Whatever it is, you have to identify something. Don’t say “Well, I don’t have desires, my life is full of have to’s.” If you say that then you are not looking deep within yourself. Pick something and dream how awesome it would be to fulfill that desire.

2. Goal it! I know you have probably heard enough about writing out goals and you are sick of hearing it. Well, the odds are that if you are tired are hearing about it it’s because you have not written any goals out! We live in a visual age and most of the learning and doing we participate in is visual. Why do you think your favorite TV show has 15 minutes worth of show, and 15 minutes worth of advertising? They are hoping that if you see it, you will buy it. Goals are no different. If you write it down, the odds greatly increase that you will achieve it. Pick one goal to accomplish toward your dream and watch it happen.

3. Create a Dream Board. This may be a new concept to many of you. I have created a dream board for myself, and I also have my clients go through “life mapping” which is basically the same thing. A dream board is basically listing a starting point for where you are and listing a finishing point of where you want to be, and mapping out all of the steps and details necessary to make this happen. I have had clients use this to map out everything from their mariage to organizing their house. There are steps between where we think we are and where we dream of being. The steps are where the work lies. And therein lies the problem! If you need help mapping things, I am more than happy to help you — but YOU have to do the work.

4. Help others dream. I have never met one person who selflessly helped someone not be blessed themselves. Things happen for us when we do for others. Help others dream in their life and I promise you will begin to dream more in your own.

Start dreaming!!