4 Questions to Power Up Your Day

As I was thinking about our topic of the month, strength, and all that goes along with it, I was reminded of a powerful tool that we don’t always use enough in our lives: questions. We usually find time for blaming and yelling and talking, but not much for questions. So today I thought we’d take a look at 4 questions you can ask today, and every day.

1-what’s one courageous step I can take today?
I’m not asking you to leap, just take one step towards overcoming a challenge, conquering a fear, or making a dream a reality. For example you could watch a video on cooking a specific ingredient properly, video taken from the perspective of someone skydiving or research career options. But maybe the courageous step you need to take today is to do something big and bold and finally take a very active step forward.

2-what can I do today to help someone else feel/see/realize/understand their strength?
Strength can be used to hurt and to hoard, but I believe strength is best used for helping others. The phrase ‘together we’re better’ applies here, because when I bring my strengths to the table, and you bring yours, we’re stronger than we would be alone.

3-what will I do today to increase my strength?
Life is a learning and growing process, one that only can be successful if you not only work on your weaknesses, but also work on your strengths. Working on becoming better at what you’re good at and diving deeper into your passions not only builds your confidence, it gives you new ways you can make a difference in the world.

4-what was the most courageous, brave or strong thing I did today?
This is an important question to ask at the end of the day, it helps remind us of our victories, give us an opportunity to celebrate the ways we rocked today and give us a chance to end the day on a positive note. Yes, it’s good to go over what didn’t go well, but I would start with those as you make your to-do list for tomorrow, and end with thoughts of your successes.

What about you? What questions do you use to help you make more victories in your life?

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For Just a Season

This week we officially enter the season of summer, and the temperatures in many parts of the US are supporting that transition.  As I was thinking about the summer season, I was reminded of the Ecclesiastes passage that talks about there being a time for every season and every thing in our lives.  It’s a reminder that everything has it’s time in our lives, that sometimes we have to be patient, and that there’s a right (and wrong) time for everything.

But as I thought about it some more I was reminded that a season is exactly that: a season. It’s not our entire lives or the only thing in our lives, it’s a part of it.  Summer for us lasts 3 or so months and then there’s a new season.  The dictionary even describes a season as “a period or time….especially a short time.”

So what if for this summer season you take it as a season for your life? A season to be proactive about making positive comments on social media, or a season to eat healthy for at least one meal a day, or a season to fight as little as possible with your kids, or a season to learn about yourself, or a season to explore the great country that we share.

That means that from the summer solstice (June 21) to the autumn equinox (September 22) you take the time to focus on doing something good for yourself or the world, doing something you’ve been meaning to do, or consistently doing something that you’ve been inconsistent with.  It’s a chance to try something new, to get to know yourself better, to grow, and to do what needs to be done in your life.

What will this summer season be for you?

Reality Reflection: Salute the Flag

Thursday here in the US was Flag Day. The US flag, like some of the other flags around the world is iconic. It’s a flag that many people recognize, even though it’s only looked exactly like it does since 1960. The flag has actually been redesigned 26 times since 1777, and what’s stuck around for all the versions are both the strips and the colors. The current flag is awesome because it honors the past and the present, with the 50 stars representing the 50 states, and the 13 stripes representing the original 13 colonies.

I think the fact that it’s developed and changed over time is also an important reflection on our country. It means that we’ve become our own country (the original flag looked pretty similar to the Britain one where the original colonists were from). We’ve developed our own personality, our own values, and struggled through our own challenges. And we’re still growing, learning, and changing.

Our flag is a symbol of what we’ve been and who we are now, as well as a reminder that we’re strongest and greatest when we work together. Days like Flag Day are opportunities for us to show that we’re part of that nation and proud of it. So whether you get some small flags to stick in your lawn or hang in a window, or are able to hang one from your home or garage, make sure you’re ready for the 4th of July, the next opportunity to show your pride in the USA.

Advice for Dads

This Sunday in the USA is Father’s Day so today I thought I’d share some advice for dads. No, I’m not a dad, but I do have a dad so I’m sharing from the perspective of a child, which I think is an important perspective for dads to consider. Yes, sometimes we’ll choose to do things differently as a parent than our parents did because we didn’t have a good experience growing up, or because we’re just different people. But there are some things that all great dads do, or who they are that we’re going to talk about today.

One of the biggest keys to being a great dad is making the most of the time you have with your kids. With most parents working these days it’s challenging for everyone to get tons of time with both or either of their parents, unless they work from home. So I’m not going to say that you have to spend as much time as possible together with your kids to be a great dad, but to make the most of the time you do have. For example one family I work with has pancakes made by dad every Saturday, and it’s something they look forward to all week.

One other way to be a great dad is to take vacation days. Maybe they’re days with special school events, a week in the summer to do things around the house and take a day trip, a day in late November or early December to do holiday shopping with the kids, the ideas are endless. It’s not always about spending tons on expensive destination vacations (although it’s good to do at least one of them if you can), it’s about taking the vacation days for the big and little things, things that will matter to your kids and your kids will appreciate seeing you there for.

Finally, the best way to be a dad is to show and tell your kids that you love them. Through the little things you remember and ask them about, the little treats you bring them, the ways you make their day, and moments you take to read them stories or hear their stories at the end of the day even when you’re exhausted.

What advice do you have for dads?

Taking Time to Listen

Given the events of the last week as well as the big meeting between two world powers happening somewhere half way around the world, today I thought we’d take a look at the words of Proverbs 8:33: “Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it.”

My heart hurts whenever someone chooses to end their life before God has determined it’s their time. The world lost two public figures last week to suicide, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. While we may never know what truly caused them to make that decision, many who choose suicide do so because they don’t have hope, don’t believe life could get better, don’t feel heard or have been so beaten down they can’t take it anymore. Statistics show that on average over 100 people choose suicide each day, which is a really scary number, and means there are thousands of hurting families out there.

The Bible teaches us that we should love our neighbors, that we should be giving and support each other, that we should look out for women and children, to trust that the God who knows the petals on a flower and all the creatures of the sea could look out for the little details of our lives, and that God has a plan for good for our lives. But these are not assurances that everyone knows because not everyone knows the Bible.

These aren’t just spiritual messages, they’re life messages. Anyone can love, listen and be compassionate, regardless of race, sex, age, location, or language. Are you taking the time to listen to the people in your life? To the ways they’re trying to help you and things they’re trying to tell you? I encourage you to choose love and compassion this week, to stop and listen when people speak, to make time to listen to what God is trying to tell you, and make time for those who are most important to you.

Standing Strong to Make A Difference

As I’ve been thinking about our topic of the month (strength/courage/bravery) and one of my other favorite topics, victories, I had what may seem like an obvious epiphany, but here it is: it’s through using our individual strengths that we’re able to make a difference in the world. It’s not by bringing my weaknesses to the table that I can help others, that I can make the world better for the next generation, or I can have a happier life, it’s by standing on my strengths.

I can’t avoid or completely erase my weaknesses (although I can improve on them), but I can rely on other people’s strengths to help me with my weaknesses or to support me where my skills or resources aren’t as good as theirs. I don’t believe we have to be perfect people or good at every single thing. It’s OK to bring our own skills and strengths to a project but not be able to do the entire project on our own. There are tons of short cuts and supports that have been created in our modern age from “supermarket short cuts” that help us cut cooking time down, to tech templates that allow us to do some of the online design work but not have to do it all, to search engines that give us answers with a few taps or clicks with no trips to the library required (unless you want to!).

The question really is will you bring your strengths to the table for the good of everyone, or will you keep them just for yourself? While I don’t think we have to help everyone with everything, I do think we need to give back and make a difference in the world. Lawyers can donate a couple of hours a month to helping non-profits, doctors can donate a couple of hours to free clinics, teachers can donate a couple of hours to inner city students or those with learning disabilities, parents can donate a couple of hours to single parents in their neighborhood to watch their kids, and business owners can donate a couple of hours to helping veterans learn a trade or start a business. Not to mention that everyone can recycle, plant a tree, share information with the police or crimestoppers, help someone cross the street, pay for someone’s coffee, or say something nice to someone on social media.

You know what you’re good at, you know what you enjoy. How will you take your strengths and use them for good in the world?

From Stumble To Standing Strong

This month one of the topics we’re going to talk about is the topic of strength. Everyone faces challenges in their lives, that’s not something we escape just because we believe in Jesus. But not only do we have a community of believers around us, we’ve got the Bible to encourage us along, and Jesus who will be there when we need some support or a guiding hand.

God never asked us to live a perfect life. He asks us to live with love, compassion, peace, patience, kindness and in a way that honors Him. Perfection isn’t found in the Armor of God, the Fruit of the Spirit or the 10 Commandments. It’s not something David, Solomon, Paul or Martha achieved. They struggled, they stumbled, they lived life with many of the challenges we face.

The question is not if you’ll struggle but when. But after the struggle, stumble or failure, what comes next? Will you choose to get up and make things right? Persevere on? Make better choices next time? You do have responsibility for your life, but the gift that God gives us is that none of us have to go through life or our challenges alone, He’ll support us every step of the way if we let Him. Could you use some support from God in your life? If so know it’s never too soon or too late to ask for His help.

“Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:24