Archives For Freedom

The way circus elephants are trained demonstrates why we struggle with breakthrough. When young, they are attached by heavy chains to large stakes driven deep into the ground. They pull, yank, strain and struggle, but the chain is too strong. One day they give up, having learned that they cannot pull free. From that day forward they can be chained with a slender rope. When this large animal feels any resistance it stops trying because it believes it cannot break free. How often are we like this? We have failed, therefore we don’t get back up. We are defeated before we start. I heard someone put it this way. We don’t fully believe we can attain that which we are working towards so we give half effort and get half results resulting in a stronger belief that we cannot.                         Photo By:      http://kcnewmanphotography.zenfolio.com/1069189_120665741437120_47305734_n

Belief is so important because our minds are always deleting things. I have said this before but it bares mentioning again. Have you noticed when you buy a new car, all of a sudden you see your car everywhere? How did you not see this before? Because our minds are constantly deleting things. It is important to have an attitude of HOPE for this reason. The reason why most of us don’t accomplish our dreams is because we set our goals inside our mental barriers where it’s safe. What if you stretch out to new thoughts of possibilities? A sure-fire way to know you are headed in the right direction is if you are doing something beyond yourself. Something that needs divine help and other people to come alongside you.

Think of how many other barriers have turned out to be only mental obstacles:

  • “Landing and moving about on the moon offers so many serious problems for human beings that it may take science another 200 years to lick them.”~Science Digest, 1948
  • “Rail travel at high-speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.”~Dr. Dionysus Lardner, 1793-1859
  • “Heavier than air, flying machines are impossible.”~ Lord Kelvin

Restore your mind. Stretch what is possible. Don’t be like the trained elephant. Open your mind to how big the possibilities God has for you may be. Our attitudes should be; if God can bless anyone and make anything happen, He can make it happen for me. I choose to believe that God has a destiny for me. I refuse to feel tension and shrink back. I will continue to hold tight to that which He is calling me. Will you hold tight to where He is calling you?

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People often say that money doesn’t make you happy. I believe that this is true, but I also believe that a mountain of debt is a sure-fire way to be unhappy. Debt is one of the deep dark secrets that no one talks about. I’m not here to convince you not to borrow, though I think you should think about it. Debt is a current of water pushing against you. Everything you do requires an amazing amount of effort and energy; nothing is easy. Investments are different. They are like you are going with the current making everything easier similar as it is paddling down stream. Debt robs you of these three things!

1. Hope. I remember when my wife became pregnant. It was our “plan” for her to stay at home. I say “plan” loosely as it was more what we wanted. We couldn’t make it on my income alone because of debt payments. Even though we knew the whole time we wanted her to stay home when we had kids, our choices didn’t all align with that. We had no hope until we stumbled upon Dave Ramsey! Mountains of debt robs you of the hope to have what you desire. It is like a thief in the night, causing our minds to see all the negatives with money and none of the positives. Restore your hope. It is possible to pay off debt. We made a plan and she went back to teaching for nine months when our oldest was one and everything she made went toward paying off debt. It was the longest nine months of her life! My wife is now at home with our three kids. We did it because of Hope!

“Never spend your money before you have it.”~Thomas Jefferson

2. Peace. Do you remember what it was like to have no debt payments? Ever lose sleep because of debt? I have too. It is such a nasty destroyer of peace. It creeps into your mind and worry sets in. Worry is the opposite of peace. Sometimes when we have had debt around for so long we have grown accustomed to the feeling of worry. This is not the way it should be. There is a better way. It requires sacrifice and hard work.  What is your peace worth?

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”~Warren Buffett

3. Freedom. Do you remember the scene from Brave Heart? The one in which William Wallace yells, “Freedom!” Financial freedom allows for so much. To give like no one else can give. It allows you to be spontaneous to go when you want to go. When you  have the pounds of pressure that debt brings, you lose a lot of your freedom. My wife had to go back to work when she didn’t want to. We couldn’t give as much as we wanted to give. Our money was all chained up to bills with other people’s names on them. What freedom would you have with no debt?

I believe debt can steal these three things from you. Debt stole these things from us. James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” I believe that this is true. Ask God and He will show you the way. Remove the chains of bondage. Be free!

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God made you for a purpose. When I hear this most of the time I think, “When do I get to start living that purpose out.” I believe that this is a common mistake. We put the purpose of our lives at some distant point in the future barely out of our grasp. Our whole life can go by before our eyes without even knowing it while waiting for our purpose to be here. What if your purpose is now? When can you start enjoying your life? Life should be like running. Your eyes are up, you have a route, but you focus on one step at a time while you take in the surroundings. These 3 things help me to enjoy the day.

next step!

1. You are preparing for something. (Eyes up) To continue to use running as an example, when you are training for a marathon you have to put in a lot of hours of training. I don’t enjoy every training day but I have learned to enjoy it most of the time. It is preparing for the race that gets me most of the time, not the race itself. So find something in what you’re preparing that you enjoy. I like seeing the wildlife when I run, the feeling after running, and I think creatively when I run. Enjoy this time of preparation in your life!

2. You have a route. When I take off running, I have a route designated and a time that I am trying to be done by. This rarely happens exactly as I plan, but I leave with an idea of where I’m going. This does not mean that I am not enjoying the run, in fact it frees my mind up because I don’t have to think about where I’m going. I can just be in the moment. Areas in my life that I have decided to go on a certain path I have peace. It’s those areas of my life that I have put off decisions are where I struggle with joy. Decide a path and go. If it’s wrong you can redirect, but stop taking up today wondering.

3. This day is the only day like it. (Focus on the step) Enjoy the insignificant days. As my family, business, and church involvement grow, I always think I wish I would have enjoyed _____. You never know what is happening today that you are going to miss. Even the things that seem like a pain will be missed. It is a pain some nights getting my kids ready for bed when I’m exhausted, but I’m 100% sure I will miss it. So even when I am exhausted, I think “I’m not going to be able to do this much longer.”

So be like a runner with a focused gaze on the finish line yet living out each step. Don’t wait to start living. Be fully alive today by charting your course, preparing, and taking it one step at a time.

What things do you do to focus on this step?

 

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Parenthood. Nothing could be more rewarding and nothing could be more tiring. Every child is different and they don’t come with an instructional manual. Some days having three kids all ages four and under makes me want to scream, cry, laugh, and well go insane. These little miracles that my wife and I had prayed for can wear the snot out of you. Sometimes there is a feeling of guilt when you don’t know whether you are dead or alive and you think what was I thinking?! I’m here to say it’s normal and ignore the parents that look like they’re not exhausted because they are.They are little miracles and I love being a dad! I also say it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. Parents almost feel guilt to say that it is a hard adjustment. Well, it is hard and fun. These 4 things help to keep me sane.

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1. Date night. Rachel and I need reminders that we are a couple first and parents second. Find someone you trust with your kids even for thirty minutes if leaving them is hard for you. Dream with your spouse again. Look into his or her eyes without the little angels fighting you for attention. As I write this I’m thinking we need to put a date night on the calendar!

2. Clean the house. We make sure all of the toys are cleaned up and the dishes done before we sit down after the kids go to sleep. I cannot fully relax as much as I can when the whole house is clean. I can feel the undone hovering over me like a cloud. Putting it off is just trying to avoid the pain in the rear of cleaning when I’m tired. I always feel better when tomorrow starts with a clean slate, so we push through.

3. Find a point to be alone. I rise early to be alone. Just like date nights help to reconnect as a couple, having time alone will remind you that you are an individual. This may sound like common sense but it’s not. You are God’s son or daughter first. Not a dad or a mom, but an individual. When I make the time to be alone, I find that I have more patience and energy to be a better dad. I need to be reminded of this so I wake up early to be alone with God.

4. This too shall pass. Sometimes I need to be reminded of this when my three year old doesn’t listen for a week or one of the kids is waking up a lot because they are teething. This too shall pass and it will get easier. When we are really exhausted we say this often to each other. This is a snapshot, not the whole story. It is one really tiring phase, not a lifetime.

In the end, parenting is awesome! Remember to be proactive and intentional and your energy will be much higher to enjoy the ride. They will only be this age once. It is a good reminder to enjoy this stage and also remember that this stage will be over. Enjoy your kids, but have wisdom and schedule time for your spouse as well as yourself.

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When we hear of rip off financial systems or bad investments they all have one thing in common; the promise of quick money. Most of us have very little patience and this is the hook in our mouth. We never hear the term, “get rich slow schemes” as this would allow time to think. In the children’s fable, The Tortoise and The Hare, we learn that the tortoise always wins. My brother once said, “I just wish my tortoise was faster.” Isn’t that the truth? We want to grab our turtle and strap a rocket to its back. This is the point at which I have made my worse financial decisions. These 5 steps help me to avoid my share of stupid tax.

Picture by http://www.flickr.com/photos/epsos/

1. Breath. There are many studies that show deep breathing allows for better decision making. Give your brain full oxygen and lower your blood pressure. Breath down through your belly button then slowly exhale. Yes, using your brain helps to avoid bad decisions. It moves us from emotion back to logic.

2. Can you teach it? We must be able to explain the investment idea to others. If you can’t do this don’t put money into it. Only invest in things you fully understand. Know how it could make money as well as how it could lose money. Everything has an opportunity cost; know what it is. Fund managers and investment help is great, but don’t let that be an excuse for not paying attention and understanding what they are doing. As Dave Ramsey says, “They must have the heart of a teacher.”

3. Prayer. Pray about it. I have not invested in certain things because I didn’t feel comfortable about them after praying. The burden of proof is on the side of investing in something new. One instance of this was a company that got all of its assets frozen. I wanted to invest, but after praying I didn’t feel right so I didn’t do it. Glad I didn’t now, although at the time that was a tough decision. A lot of people I knew were making good money with little effort. I love the people who lost money in the company and my heart aches for them.

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”~ James 1:5

4. Counsel. Always get counsel from those that do well financially. Get counsel from the ones that will challenge you, not the ones that will be “yes” men and women. Another chance to teach that person about your investment or purchase idea. They will open your eyes to things that you have not considered. You have to be open to being wrong. Don’t get argumentative and stay open to critique.

“Through presumption comes nothing but strife, But with those who receive counsel is wisdom.” Proverbs 13:10  

5. Long term vision. Some won’t like this but I don’t prescribe to market timing short-term single stock investments. It feels too much like the hare in the race. I’m going to hold for the long-term. This helps to avoid microwave thinking and sets my life up to be like a crock pot. No adrenaline rush but highly effective. Investment strategy should be boring.

So if you have made your share of oops financially, join the club. Knowing what to do and doing it are two separate things. Don’t look back except to learn. Look forward, learn your lesson and take your time making decisions. When all else fails ask more questions. With most things we come to decisions too quickly and don’t have enough information. So breath, ask, pray, and ask some more.

What are some things you do to make better financial decisions?

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Are you lusting after your dream? I do sometimes. Lust is an overwhelming desire or craving. I believe pursuing our dreams turns to lust when we can’t be happy with our life until we achieve what great grandeur is in our minds. I’m trying to put the dream in its proper place but to be honest it is hard to do. I have found certain things to be successful in increasing patience which leads to me putting my dream in its proper place instead of lusting after it. These 3 things help me to chase my dream and not lust after it. 

“And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” Hebrews 6:15

1. Trust God’s timing. Do you believe God’s plan for your life is perfect? Do you believe He knows you better than you know yourself? Don’t give some religious answer. My first reaction is, “Yes I trust God with my life. Well with this part of my life at least. If I give Him access to all of my life I will have to sell everything, have no friends, and do things I hate. No, no, no, I can only put Him in the church box.” Then I wonder why it’s hard to wait. If we truly are allowing God into all areas of our life He will give us the desires of our heart or He will change your heart. Trust God with your whole life, including the timing.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”   ~Epicurus

2. Gratitude. If I am lusting after my dream, I am ungrateful for everything in my life. All I can focus on is everything God is not giving me. How could He be so unfair and give other people my dream? Oh the humanity! This is no way to live. When I focus on my three beautiful kids who are healthy, the finances I do have, the influence I currently have, I am excited for the day, energized and ready to go out to the world with a smile on my face. Attitudes of gratitude are attractant. Your dream will happen sooner when you are grateful. (tweet it)

3. God of abundance. God’s blessings are not a finite resource. Other people receiving things earlier than you does not negatively affect your dream. If you don’t understand this, it is too easy to covet and lust. Your friend will buy a big house, expensive car, have kids that listen, a spouse that adores them, and you won’t be happy because you’re too busy wishing it was you. Be happy for them! They are your friend so rejoice in their happiness and triumph. God has more than enough for you to get yours.

“Instead, I have an abundance mentality: When people are genuinely happy at the  successes of others, the pie gets larger.” ~Stephen Covey

These 3 things help me and I pray they helped you. Don’t waste valuable time lusting and start taking footsteps toward your dream. Live life the way God designed it. God’s promises are true; hold on to that. Restore your hope and faith. Trust the one that created you!

 

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Stretching yourself is hard to do but it is the only way to grow. We try to avoid pain and discomfort but the truth is there is only one way to get stronger. I recently went back to my hometown for one of my closest friend’s wedding. I had a great time. I golfed with eleven guys all of which were much better than me. Fine dining with three forks with one above the plate which took me a while to figure out. I knew one person in the wedding party prior to the weekend. My point is, was it uncomfortable? Of course at points I felt left out and like a fish out of water, but I also had a great time. These 4 things will help you push through discomfort so you can grow!

comfort zone 55 Inspiring Quotations That Will Change The Way You Think

1. Everyone is uncomfortable. Do we really fully understand this? We all handle our insecurities differently. Some go, others quit, and some talk non-stop. We are all unique. Stop believing that the person you think has it all together isn’t insecure because they are. We all have something about ourselves that we wish we could change. We wish we could talk less or talk more. Other people are too busy worrying about their own insecurities to even catch yours. Walk in this freedom.

“People are crying up the rich and variegated plumage of the peacock, and he is himself blushing at the sight of his ugly feet.”~Saadi

2. Small victories. Start small. Don’t go from zero to sixty. Build up small experience where you can, push through discomfort and get a quick yes. Isn’t it nice when we push through and get a desirable outcome? If you do this enough, your mind will learn that pleasure comes after discomfort. Often this is enough to push through to bigger victories.

“The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.” ~ Bill Clinton

3. Practice. This goes with #2. Small victories over time will build and confidence in uncomfortable and new things will be a result. The more I push myself into the uncomfortable, the more my discomfort stops getting a vote. This is only the result of practice. Something else happens. I gain more life experiences and there is less time that I’m feeling awkward. Next time I have three forks I know what to do.

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.~” Nelson Mandela

4. Eyes on the prize. All of these experiences gained me new relationships and new life skills. Also it reminded me of how other people are uncomfortable around me. It made me think of what made me more confident. Do you want to learn something new, meet new people, meet new business contacts, or share the gospel? All exciting things are also uncomfortable. Keep your eyes on the excitement; the spice of life.

Follow these 4 things to increase your growth! Do not stay where you are comfortable rather branch out to new and exciting things. Break out of the normal routine and change your life one step at a time. A world of opportunity awaits on the other side of discomfort.

What things help you to break through discomfort?

 

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I had one goal when I entered marriage. Make it through the honeymoon without fighting. Lofty I know. Didn’t make it. I didn’t get directions to the spa where I had planned a massage for her. I knew how to get to the town, but not the spa. To make matters worse I stopped to see a waterfall and we were running late. She exclaimed, “My dad would have gotten directions!” To which I said, “WHAT!” Then it started. Who was wrong? Both of us. When we marry someone, it is easy to forget that we have two different personalities, wills, and emotions. I’m a command type personality, spur of the moment, have huge dreams and my follow through has been terrible. My wife is steady, wants most things planned, finishes what she starts, just got to get her to start. We are different, yet we are one. These 5 things will make your marriage awesome!

1. God is at the center. God comes before my wife. Since this changed, the love I show her is limitless. To move her down the totumpole has taken time. There are still parts of my heart that probably put her first, but the more she moves to second the more loving and sacrificial I become.

 “We judge ourselves by our intentions. We judge our spouses by their actions. No wonder we think we’re better.” ~Anne Moodie

2. Honor your spouse. Do you honor your partner? You should not be talking to your buddies guys or your girlfriends ladies about how much your wife or husband sucks. This should be common sense but alas it’s not. It really shows what is in your heart and a lack of control over the mouth. This is a huge problem. Instead talk about God in them. There has to be something that shines through; talk about that.

My beautiful wife!

3. Work at it. Growth doesn’t just happen. We read marriage books now, not when we are struggling. Everything is growing or dying. Growth requires a focus and a priority. Turn off the T.V. and read something about growing together.

“Give your man a break. Let him be who God designed him to be.”~Hot, Holy and Humorous

4. Focus on YOU. What can you do? If you have been reading this thinking, “Oh my husband needs to read this or my wife needs to read this.” Start over and focus on what you don’t do. We all need to come up a little. Do not be your spouse’s Holy Spirit.

“What you do EVERY DAY matters more than what you do ONCE IN A WHILE.”~Simple Marriage

5. You are his or her one shot. I am Rachel’s only shot at having what she desires in a husband. If I love her, I have to give her the best gift she could ask for. A better me. I hope she looks back today and goes, “Wow the man I’m married to is ten times better than the man he was when I married him.” I pray that in the future she will say that of today. Don’t wait until you’re divorced to workout, dress-up, do the dishes, get close to God, read your Bible, etc. Do it now.

Chase your spouse and win them over day after day. If things have gotten rocky it will not change overnight, but you didn’t get here overnight either. Love God, pursue your spouse, see God in them, and be a better you. (Tweet that)

What are things that you do to make your marriage awesome?

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Today is my son, Luke’s third birthday. He is the little light in our family as his name means “Light of God.” He says hi to everyone as long as they don’t look at him first, takes command before meals to be the first to pray, and loves being with his family. Oh and how he gets into everything, enjoys eating chicken food every once in a while, and jumps off the highest things he can find. There are a lot of things we could learn from our children if we just open our eyes. After all Jesus said in Mathew 18:3, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” I have learned these 5 lessons from my son.

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” ~Mother Teresa

1. Hugs should be full. None of this side hug garbage. When my son hugs me it is an all out tackle. You can just feel the warmth and love coming through the little guy. We should love each other like that.

“The soul is healed by being with children.” ~English Proverb

2. Everyone gets greeted. He says hi and smiles to everyone that doesn’t look at him. It doesn’t matter what you look like, he will say hi. If he is feeling comfortable he will  start talking. A warm smile and acknowledgement is all it takes to brighten someone’s day.

3. Unafraid. Sometimes this makes me nervous, but he is not afraid of much. He jumps off everything arms wide open. This is how we should be. Not tipping the toe in the water but rather jumping in arms wide open giving all of ourselves into the new adventure.

“Nothing that you have not given away will ever truly be yours.” ~C.S. Lewis

4. Why. He is a why machine. Anyone who has kids is familiar with this time of childhood. It can be challenging, but we all need to be asking why. If you don’t know the why, you just don’t know. (Tweet that)

5. He asks for help. Heaven forbid us adults show a little humility and ask each other for help. After all we have to keep up with the game and pretend that we are perfect and need no one. You and I are flawed. When we need help let’s just ask for it.

“Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.” ~Lady Bird Johnson, former U.S. first lady

Happy birthday, Luke. Thank you for teaching your dad how to live a life that is a light to the world.

What things do your children or other peoples’ kids teach you?

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On Memorial Day I wanted to take a few minutes to honor the people who have died for our freedom. I can’t relate to this sacrifice since I have never served in the armed forces. It is way too easy to gloss over the day and not realize there are individuals that died and families left behind. It is easy to say Memorial Day instead of saying the day that men and women died so I didn’t have to. In honor of this day that we remember our fallen freedom fighters, I decided to ask an active serviceman his thoughts about what Memorial Day means to him.

Sniper Daniel Pina, my brother in-law, has served in the United States Army since right after the towers fell on 9/11. He saw a need that day to defend our country and left college to fight for you and I. He has served several tours and has courageously earned two purple hearts. So here is a warrior’s view about this day.

What does Memorial Day mean to you? “Remembrance, anniversary, and honor.”

What do you love about serving? “War brings out the best and the worst in people. You will never feel more alive, or more lonesome. I serve for the guy to the left and right of me. That’s it and that is all that matters when the bullets start to fly. It is great to honestly say that you will lay your life down for someone and back the talk.”

What do you like least about serving? Being shot, losing brothers, feeling lonesome. Giving into anger and war lusts rage. Being away from family.”

“Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.”  -Dwight D. Eisenhower

So let’s take one day at least to really think about those that paved the way for our freedom. Thank you to all who have spilled blood. All that have given the ultimate sacrifice. To all that have buried a grandfather, grandmother, husband, Wife, father, mother, brother, sister, daughter, or son. I am sorry for your loss and thank you from the bottom of my heart for living a life of sacrifice and for seeing a world beyond you; one of freedom.

“The patriot’s blood is the seed of Freedom’s tree.”  -Thomas Campbell