Life to the Full!


What Do You Want?

By on Feb 25, 2015 in Blog |

Losing people close to us, if nothing else, should cause us to pause and consider what’s important. More than that, though, such times can bring us back to questions the normal pace of life often steals away from us. Questions like, “What do I really want?” As in, “What really matters to me?” I know too often I’ve lost track of these questions before or, worse, actively buried them. My schedule, my family, my ‘success,’ and even at times my faith seemed to require it of me. As though the answers to such questions are inconsistent or separate from the other pieces of my life. But then you come to a place you can’t ignore the questions. Where, in fact, the answers are required to go forward with any clarity or certainty, and it pulls you up short because – well – you just don’t know. As I have a couple of times lately I want to share with you a post I received that spoke to me. I hope you pass it along if it speaks to you. This one is from Desire, a book by John Eldredge, posted via e-mail on Ransomed Heart’s blog under the title Dare We Come Alive? Please note I’ve edited the piece to a few points that really jumped out at me, but I encourage you to check it all out – along with their other great resources – by clicking here. Meanwhile, I hope you dare to come alive and draw closer to what you really want. “The reason we don’t know what we want is that we’re so unacquainted with our desire. We try to keep a safe distance between our daily lives and our heart’s desire because it causes us so much trouble. We’re surprised by our anger and threatened by what feels like a ravenous bear within us. Do we really want to open Pandora’s box? Dare we awaken our hearts to their true desires? Dare we come alive? Is it better, as the saying goes, to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? We’re not so sure. Our dilemma is this: we can’t seem to live with desire, and we can’t live without...

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Change Is Hard

By on Feb 19, 2015 in Blog |

It could be an understatement to say I’m dealing with a lot of changes lately. Most of them have been completely out of my control. Other changes I’ve decided to make myself. Needed to make, in fact, for some time. I’m not sure if I’ve delayed making these changes out of fear, or if my careful weighing of costs has been more a use of wisdom. Naturally, I like to think it’s “b.” But somewhere between “throw caution to the wind” and “frozen like a deer in the headlights” is a way of doing life that leans more on a deeper ‘sensing’ of things; that trusts God is good and really can be counted on; and that knows we don’t actually have to worry about everything as much as we seem to think we do. Anyway, I was thinking about all this, and then I got this post from Ransomed Heart Daily Readings and John Eldredge. It’s an outtake from John’s book, Wild at Heart, and it spoke right to where I am. It’s called, What Are You Waiting For, and I hope you don’t mind me sharing it with you. “Where would we be today if Abraham had carefully weighed the pros and cons of God’s invitation and decided that he’d rather hang on to his medical benefits, three weeks paid vacation, and retirement plan in Ur? What would have happened if Moses had listened to his mother’s advice to “never play with matches” and lived a careful, cautious life steering clear of all burning bushes? You wouldn’t have the gospel if Paul had concluded that the life of a Pharisee, while not everything a man dreams for, was at least predictable and certainly more stable than following a voice he heard on the Damascus road. After all, people hear voices all the time, and who really knows whether it’s God or just one’s imagination. Where would we be if Jesus was not fierce and wild and romantic to the core? Come to think of it, we wouldn’t be at all if God hadn’t taken that enormous risk of us in the first place. Most men spend the energy of their lives trying to eliminate risk, or squeezing...

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“How Does That Make You Feel?” (and Why You Want to Know)

By on Feb 17, 2015 in Blog |

Anyone who finds that question annoying, raise your hand. Thank you. I know. Me too. Of course, as a counselor I ask that question a lot. While asking for the sake of asking, or just being nosy, is guaranteed to turn all but the biggest drama queen off, there is a legitimate reason for asking someone about how they’re feeling. And, if asked correctly, it can be one of the most useful questions in a conversation. Why? Because what we think, and how we feel, are two of the most direct lines to what we actually believe to be true. So? Think about how powerful it might be if you could help uncover what the important people in your life are thinking or feeling. A kid. A loved-one. A co-worker. How about a customer? If someone tells you or shows you what they feel about something, they’ve essentially told you what they believe to be true about the situation. This, in turn, can help you get at not just the problem – “You didn’t call when you were going to be late – you don’t care about me!” Or, “You lied! You said the part would be here Monday!” At this point a lot of people would become defensive or shut down to protect themselves or try to “escape” somehow. This is exactly where you want to press into the feeling and give them a chance to tell you what they believe to be true. Why? Because right at this exact moment you have the opportunity to turn something potentially destructive into something that creates a closer connection and actually builds trust. Anyone you know that would like deeper trust or a better connection with a friend, child, spouse, or customer? Yep. Me too. Anyway, once you hear the feeling word, one strategy you can try is this: “You have the idea I don’t care about you,” or, “You think I lied about the delivery date.” See, when you restate the other person’s feeling as a thought or an idea, and they confirm that’s correct, two things happen. First, you send the clear message that you get it, and you’re listening. Trust me when I tell you most people...

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Unexpected Blessings

By on Feb 9, 2015 in Blog | 4 comments

Have you ever received an unexpected blessing? Have you ever been one? It’s not as hard as you might think. You don’t have to make a project out of it. You don’t need to attend a class on “being the blessing.”   In fact, it doesn’t require anything more than simply showing up in your world, wherever you are, and loving people as you would want them to love you. Here’s an example. If you follow this blog you may remember a recent post entitled “You Just Never Know.” That one came out of the unexpected loss of my mom. In the post, “Sometimes You’re the Bug…” I alluded to taking a couple of pretty big hits in the past month. Actually, the hits happened within a couple of weeks of each other. The events I was referring to occurred a month apart. Here’s the backstory: Monday the 19th of January my mom died. I went back to work that Thursday. Wednesday the next week I got a call telling me my dad had passed away. I’d dreaded that call because he and I hadn’t seen each other, or really spoken, for almost 25 years. I’d always hoped that might change, that I might reconnect somehow. It seemed, with that phone call, there wasn’t going to be any way now to reconnect. But unexpected blessings often happen through unusual and sometimes hard to imagine circumstances. Twenty-five years ago my paternal grandmother died. As it turns out, my wife’s grandfather had died the same day, and we were unable to be at each other’s family funerals. So, I rode in the funeral limousine with my dad, his wife Jane, and one of his adopted daughters, Patti. Now, my grandmother Porteous was hugely important in my life. I don’t hesitate to credit her for being the anchor and the one fixed point in my life that guided me through some really rough waters.  Her loss hit me hard. My dad was dealing with things his own way but Patti was there and, I guess, she saw a need I couldn’t really express and simply reached out to meet it. During that brief but difficult moment she was a warm and kind soul...

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Absolutely Free, the One and Only “Gizmo!”

By on Feb 6, 2015 in Blog |

Wouldn’t it be great if you could find a Gizmo – maybe in the back of your favorite magazine, or in one of those mailbox coupon books – that was virtually guaranteed to help you and the people you love get rid of shame, guilt, self-doubt, depression, anxiety, anger, perfectionism, and more? Better yet, what if this amazing Gizmo was absolutely free, easy to use, and required no maintenance?   And, what if all it took to get the full benefit from this surprisingly simple marvel was a willingness to practice using it on a regular basis? Too good to be true, you say? Poppycock and balderdash? Not at all! In fact, it’s the backbone of many wildly popular and highly effective self-help books, and it’s built on a solid foundation of time-tested, practical strategies found in the Bible. Used for centuries by people the world over, the Gizmo is elegantly simple and able to be used by most anyone, anywhere, at virtually anytime. What is it? (Drumroll, please…) Thought-stopping… reframing… and positive self-talk. What? Yep, that’s it. Those three things. Here’s why they work. The problem with most of the things in the laundry list above is that we get these ideas, or feelings, and start to act on them or believe them as though they were true. Common thoughts like this include things like, “I’m unlovable; this will never work out; people should (fill in the blank); we have to (fill in the blank); I’m an idiot; you’re an idiot; etc., etc.” Repeated over time, these thoughts help establish patterns of thinking in our brains. Many of these thoughts, especially negative ones, will fall into the category of lies, or half-baked truths. And that’s where the Gizmo comes in, helping break the hold these old patterns of thinking have on us. Okay, you say, but how does it work? Great question! Here’s an example: Let’s say John says something to his good friend, Sam, that Sam takes the wrong way. Sam thinks, “I can’t believe he’d say that to me! What a jerk! Well, that’s it! I’m done – if he’s going to accuse me of (fill in the blank) then he’s no friend of mine!!” Whatever John...

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Sometimes You’re the Bug… And Three Crucial Things to Do When You Are

By on Jan 30, 2015 in Blog |

Ever hear the old saying, “Sometimes you’re the bug, and sometimes you’re the windshield”? Every now and then most everyone gets their lunch handed to them. Sometimes it’s in the gym; sometimes on the basketball or tennis court. Sometimes it’s on the sales floor; and sometimes on the playground or in a courtroom. Sometimes it’s someone else doing the “handing,” and sometimes it’s life itself. Sometimes you can do something to soften the blow or get out of the way, and sometimes… You just can’t. Lately, I’ve been the bug. Two pretty big hits in the past month and it’s got me thinking about what I need to do to take care of myself. Often (probably too often) I don’t really give it much thought. But right now, I do have to pay attention and give it more than just a little thought. So, I wanted to share a few things you’ll want to do if you find yourself up – what’s that creek called? – without a paddle. Rest. If you’ve been taking a beating physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally, you need rest. The kind of rest you need may depend on the pounding you’ve been getting but, regardless, you need to recharge your batteries. Sometimes rest is sleep. Sometimes it’s reading a good book (not for work, please). Sometimes it may mean reconnecting with a friend or two, and sometimes rest means getting away from everyone. Reflect. If you don’t take the time to reflect and digest what’s happened (or what’s happening still) you may wind up stuck, going over and over things. Instead of reflecting intentionally, you wind up ruminating in disjointed, unquiet ways. Like mental or emotional zombies, things that should have been laid to rest by careful, kind, and purposeful reflection may continue to lumber around your head or your heart, leaving you with a ragged feeling of unfinished business. Yuck. Reimagine. As you give yourself the rest you need, and the time to reflect, process, and put to rest the things you’ve been dealing with, don’t forget to reimagine. You need to recharge after (or during) any sort of significant whooping so that in whatever the new reality is – life after the...

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