Fathers and Firsts and the things Moms didn’t find out about.

Gwen's pics of Dad1 cropped.

Photo courtesy of Gwen McClellan

As I was running an errand this morning, I passed a 1965 Ford Galaxie 500.  My mind immediately went back to our Ford Galaxie.  This car had a real history with our family.  I remember a day when I was in fourth grade. I was helping my dad work in our back yard when he suddenly handed me the keys to our Ford Galaxie and told me to move it.  He gave me very specific instructions; “Put the key in the ignition, lightly pump the gas pedal once or twice & turn the key forward until the starter engages, then let off the key right away as soon as you hear the engine start.  Next, put your foot on the brake & pull the gear shift lever into reverse, turn & look where you’re going, let off the brake & slowly give it just a little gas. Back the car down the driveway & stop when you’re in front of the house. Put the car in park & shut it off”.  This was my very first time behind the wheel where I was in complete control & he wasn’t even in the car.  I did everything to the letter until it came time to give it some gas.  I didn’t have a feel for how hard to push the pedal so my version of lightly was about 3 inches.  I threw driveway gravel all over the place.  Even though he scolded me, it was a big day for me.  I had driven a car.  It might have only been 20 feet but still, for a fourth grader it was huge.

I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom. ~Umberto Eco

So many of my “Firsts” happened with my dad.  He gave me my first taste of beer. He taught me how to fish, tell time & build a car out of two wooden blocks and some bottle caps. He threw me my first fast ball (with real heat). I thought my fingers were broken.  He used to let me hand him tools when he was working on the car. He let me tear up an old tarp so that I could make a make-shift poncho. I needed something to “fling back” behind my pistols when me and my cousin would have gun fights in the driveway.  Because of him I still know the words to a few Marty Robbins songs. Dad & me christmas 1971Without knowing it, he taught me how to think as well as judge situations and empathize with people.  He always seemed to know when something was bothering me.  I remember him specifically instructing me and my sister that nothing should ever be put in front of our relationship with God, especially when it came to choices in music or friends.  I remember him getting me out of bed late in the night in order for he, my mom, my aunt and my uncle to pray for me.  One time when I was in third grade he woke me up so they could pray over me and when he took me back to tuck me back into bed, he opened his bible to psalm 71:17 & 18 and read it to me.  He then looked me right in the eye and said “This is yours.  You confess it every night before you go to bed“.  I have done it my whole life and it has had an immeasurable influence on me.

Psa 71:17 O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. 18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.

Dad, Lula & Me at Grandma Gordon'sDad gave me my first guitar.  It was a Teisco Tulip guitar.  I never played it.  I think I might have learned 3 open chords but it hurt my fingers so I didn’t play it.  Dad ended up giving it to my cousin David, who didn’t play it either so my uncle Chuck gave it back.  I used to be convinced that it was the world’s biggest piece of junk but now I see how much they are selling for on Craigslist.  Wow!  Wish I still had it.  I do play guitar now though and my love of music came from dad. I have had the privilege of knowing some great men I my life.  Many of them have been strong examples, mentors & friends for me but NONE of them will ever get the honor that is reserved for him.  To my dad I would say this: You’ve started me off right.  I am forever grateful.  I honor you with every breath and every heartbeat.

My daddy, he was somewhere between God and John Wayne. ~Hank Williams, Jr

Let’s talk about Dads.  What’s special about yours?

The Very Next Step…

stepping-outHave you ever found yourself cornered and didn’t know what to do?  Maybe you were foolish and your bad choices caught up to you or maybe you were the victim of someone else’s heartlessness. You find yourself stuck, suffering and don’t see a way out.  I know I’ve felt trapped before.

The year I graduated from high school I lost my driver’s license.  I lost it because I was uninsured and in more than one car accident.  The insurance companies for the other drivers wanted to recover damages from me that my insurance should have paid.  I was led to believe that until I paid that money I couldn’t get my license back.   My job was about 13 miles away.  I couldn’t get there in a timely manner anymore and part of my job was to make local deliveries so I was let go.  I now had a very large problem.  I couldn’t pay down any debt without a job but I couldn’t get & keep a decent paying job because I couldn’t get there.  My life sort of went on hold.  This was the last straw and it seemed like within a few days, my whole life fell apart.  I literally did not know what to do.  None of the options in front of me were good ones.  They were all bad…or so I thought.

Ben Stein
There is no sudden leap into the stratosphere. There is only advancing step by step, slowly and tortuously, up the pyramid towards your goals.

THE VERY NEXT STEP!   If you find yourself in a situation like this, the very next step is a crucial one.  The next step can mean the difference between going deeper into your situation or it could be the very first step toward the answer that you so desperately need.  Think about it.  This next move could be the defining moment that changes everything.  My problem was that I sort of shut down and took on a victim mentality.  Never mind that it was ALL my fault!

I actually stopped taking steps for a while.  I was so polarized by the size and complexity of the situation I was in that I didn’t know what to do or what questions to ask.  Don’t allow yourself to get to this point.  Sometimes no action is the worst action. You can only effectively steer a moving vehicle. Even if it starts out going the wrong direction, it can only be corrected if it’s moving.  You can’t give up.

WHERE IS GOD IN ALL OF THIS?  Psalm 25:5 (NKJ) says “Lead me in your truth, and teach me: for you are the God of my salvation; on you I wait all the day“. Isaiah 48:17 (BBE) says “The Lord who takes up your cause, the Holy One of Israel, says, I am the Lord your God, who is teaching you for your profit, guiding you by the way in which you are to go”.  I know that sometimes the pressures of life can act like blinders and all you see is the problem.  Lift your eyes.  God Himself has promised to lead you if you will listen.  He will guide you “for your profit”.  He doesn’t want you to suffer, He takes NO pleasure in it.  He wants you to have peace.  Sometimes when you’re right in the thick of the battle, it may seem like you have to take five steps before you’re close enough to even ask for help but that is not the truth.  God says in Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”.  You will never be out of His reach.  He says in Isaiah 59:1 (WEB) “Behold, Yahweh’s hand is not shortened, that it can’t save; neither His ear heavy, that it can’t hear”.  The separation is on our part.  We fail to look to Him for help.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The heights charm us, but the steps do not; with the mountain in our view we love to walk the plains.

THE BREAK THROUGH.   Remember, I said I stopped moving forward.  It took me a little while to start moving again.  A few years later, through many wonderful events, too many to talk about here, I was able to get a good job and even get married,  but I still didn’t have my license.  I really wanted to get this fixed but still didn’t know how.  I had however been praying about it a lot and asking specifically for wisdom to know what to do.  One night while relaxing in the bathtub (Yes, God can deal with you anywhere) the Lord began to deal with my heart.  I didn’t hear a voice or anything like that but a thought occurred to me just as clear as if I has spoken it myself.  “Have you done everything you CAN do?”  In a split second I could see that there was ONE thing that I COULD do.  I could pay the re-instatement fee.  I didn’t have the thousands of dollars it would take to clear the whole mess up, but I had the re-instatement fee.  So I paid it.  Why you may ask?  Because it was the one thing I COULD do, so I did it trusting that God would make something out of it.

A few weeks later I received a call from a very nice lady who worked for the Secretary of State’s office in the state where I lived.  She indicated that she had received a check from me and was wondering why.  I explained my whole situation to her and about paying the re-instatement fee.  She then began to give me a very detailed roadmap to fix my situation.  She told me what forms I needed and where to get them.  She told me what to do in each situation in order to get resolution.  I thanked her and hung up the phone.  I don’t remember today if I jumped around the room or not but I remember being “off the hook” excited.  I was thanking God!  To make a long story short, within two months I had my license and had about $7,000 of an $11,000 debt forgiven.  God knew exactly who I needed to talk to.  I am convinced to this day that it was a divine setup.

Step in Sand

The thing I want you to remember is this.  You are never more than one step away from the right direction.  You are never more than one step away from help.  I don’t care how dark it may appear where you are, God is not too far away!  Let Him lead you.  The very next step could be the first step toward the answer.

How can you move forward?  Even if it seems like an insignificant step, what could you do?  What example in your own life could you share to help others?  Please join the conversation by leaving a comment.

 

 

 

 

Do you care what people think? Here’s why you should.

tape-over-mouth1Hurray for Social Media!  Because of Social Media I have been able to connect with people from my past that I have truly missed.  I am now connected again with my best friend from high school.  I’m able to stay current on family and friends even though we are spread across so many different states.  Social media has given me somewhat direct access to people I respect and admire and I now get to keep up better with their lives, work and ministries.  Social media gives me unique perspective that I didn’t have without it.  For example, before social media I would never be able to see or know what you’re having for lunch, even while you’re in a different time zone. Awesome!  I’ll try that restaurant when I’m there.  Without social media, I wouldn’t know how many people I know who used to secretly smoke pot in Colorado but are now posting pictures of it on Facebook.  What I have also learned is how many young people “don’t give a (cuss)” what people think of them, or at least that’s what they say…over and over again.

Let us ask ourselves; What kind of people do we think we are?   -Ronald Reagan

I am under no illusion that when it comes to my social media activity, people are forming opinions or having opinions reinforced about me.  Social media aside, people are doing that to all of us everyday.  You are doing that to others also.  Here’s the question; should you care what other people think of you?  Does it matter?  The profound answer to that question is “Yes” and “No”.  Now that we’ve muddied the waters allow me to explain.

Core values & social filters.  I break it down into three categories:

  1. Unchanging values.  Personally speaking, I have core values that are formed by the Bible.  I made a decision back in 1985 that the Bible was going to be the final authority in my life.  My understanding of the scripture has become the primary filter that I use to interpret my life and circumstances.  I am unwilling to compromise in this area.  This has become an area in my life that even when I have been made fun of, pressured or persecuted because of it, I will not change.  I have decided long ago that the negative opinions of others will not change my thinking where this is concerned.
  2. Flexible values. Socially things are a little different.  I have had a Facebook account since 2008 and in that time I have only unfriended two people, both were for very poor behavior.  My thoughts are that I don’t want to burn a bridge or remove an avenue where I might at some point have a positive influence on someone.  I am cautious as to what I will speak up about.  I am not interested in alienating people.  I do have very specific opinions on many areas of our culture but I am very reserved when it comes to engaging in debate about them.  Convictions on the other hand, I will not back down on.  The truth is that in many areas I do care what people think.  I don’t want my language, my attitude or my appearance to ever shut me out of an excellent opportunity.  Unfortunately this is happening to people all of the time.  They are being ignored for some great opportunities because of their language, attitude or appearance.
  3. Your way.  In some situations the most important thing to me is the happiness of others.  In these situations I will be watching for opportunities to adapt & change in order to make the situation run smoother and that everyone is happy.

I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!  –Theodore Roosevelt

Social media is a little deceptive though, don’t you think?  Looking at someone’s Facebook profile is really looking at a highlight reel.  Social media makes other people’s lives seem so much more exciting than yours.  In reality though, while people are posting cool pictures of them doing fun and interesting things, they are posting those pictures in between loads of laundry. Party over there!

Tell me an area where you care what people think?  What area are you uncompromising in?  I would love to hear your comments.  Join the conversation.

Your Path and Your Provision

I want to let you know that you can now get my mini-eBook “Your Path and Your Provision” for free when you sign up for email updates.Your Path & Your Provision book image.pngHere’s an excerpt.

Did you know though that God has a path just for you? It is a life that was designed just for you. It’s your life of significance, and only you can live it to the fullest. It’s a life that God has tailor made for you and only in this God designed life can you reach your full potential.

I want to show you that you can discover God’s plan for your life. You can find your path of significance. You can find out what you were meant to do with your life and you can begin on that path today!

Ephesians 2:10 We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.

We are His workmanship.

God created you. He crafted you to the finest detail. Psalm 139:14 says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. God put into you grace, gifts & equipment to make you effective in your life. His giftings are tailor made for you to do what He created you to do. God built you to be “High Performance” in the life that He’s ordained for you. God created you on purpose and for a very special purpose! He did not create you with all your awesome gifts just to toss you out there to see what would happen. He built you in a precise and specific way.

I hope you enjoyed this.

Always remember, I respect your privacy and I will never share your email with anyone.

Hello, My Name is ___________.

Name tagWhen I was about 18 years old, I was helping one of my uncles roof a house.  The house was owned by a man that I had known since I was a small boy.  My dad worked with him many years ago.  When he saw me, he immediately knew who I was.  He walked right up to me to say hi and ask how I was doing.  The second sentence out of his mouth surprised me though.  He said “Your daddy was one of the nicest men I’ve ever met, but I couldn’t believe a word that came out of his mouth”.  Wow! I just stood there.  How do you react to that?

Another time not too many years later, a step dad of one of my friends, a man who had known my family for many years, said “I’ve never met a Mills who’s ever had anything”. Now, I’m pretty sure he’s never met all of the Mills family.  There are a bunch of us.  But the real point of his comment was that he thought I wasn’t going to amount to much because in his mind, the Mills family doesn’t amount to much.  This kind of prejudice says way more about him than it does me, but the point was clear.  To these two people, my name had not been well represented.

“A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered.  Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.”  Charles Spurgeon.

You may be facing some of these same prejudices in your own life.  Maybe some people don’t like your color, or you came from the wrong side of the tracks, maybe your family is poor, or maybe you really were what they say you were but you’ve changed and now you need a break.  You have a choice to make. Are you going to continue to become what they say you are, or will you find another way to define yourself?  For me these comments became the catalyst for change.  I made a decision to defy the odds.  I was now faced with the challenge of living down a negative perception and a reputation I did not create.

The invisible thing called a Good Name is made up of the breath of numbers that speak well of you
~ George Savile (also attributed to Lord Halifax)

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver or gold” – Proverbs 22:1.  If you’ve ever thought that you were powerless to change the image, perception and reputation tied to your name, I have good news for you! In this very powerful verse in the Bible, pay close attention to the one word, CHOSEN!  This means that not only can you choose to have a good name, which for some is excellent news, but that really ONLY you get to decide what kind of name you have!  You do not have to be shackled with the name or the reputation that was handed to you.  You alone decide who you are going to be.  This verse actually gives us a roadmap that will lead us out from under the negative prophecies of our past.

  • Choose a GOOD name.  Your name is your identity. It’s the culmination of all that you are, and it’s tied directly to your word.  You will not have a man who has an excellent spirit who is also a liar.  If you will have a good name, you will have to be a good man! Kenneth Copeland said it this way in his series “The Image of God in You” when he said “A man and his word are inseparable”.  You can’t have a bad man who’s word will be consistently good or a good man who’s word is bad.  When I say good I mean honest, trustworthy and reliable.
  • Choose it over money.  A good name will serve you longer and in better ways than money can.  The honor that comes from choosing a good name over great riches answers a deeper need in all of us than just having money.  A good reputation will win when money can’t. People of honor will not be moved by your money but they will by your reputation and your good name. Just last night an associate of mine was telling a story about some college students from New York who bought an old sofa for $20 at the Salvation Army thrift store and started finding envelopes full of money in different parts of the couch. According to the article, they immediately started asking “What kind of boat are we going to buy?” or “Where are we going to go?” but then they found a deposit slip with a woman’s name on it.  They almost immediately reached a consensus and decided to track the woman down and return the money.  “It’s her money” they said in an interview.  It turned out that she was a 91 year old woman who didn’t trust banks and had hidden her money in this couch.  While she had an extended hospital stay for a broken hip, her family had donated the sofa to the Salvation Army.  She gave the honest young ladies $1,000 for returning the money.  What they gained by their honesty will go far beyond what the money would have bought.  It also demonstrated that they care about people.
  • Love and pursue favor rather than money.  Rev. Tad Gregurich is the Dean of Rhema Bible Training College in Broke Arrow, Oklahoma, and an associate pastor at Rhema Bible Church.  In a recent message he stated “You can do business on nothing but the name of some people.  Their name is so honored and respected that the name alone is trusted in business.  You don’t even need a hand shake”.  Don’t you just long to have that level of favor?  I strive for it everyday.  I want people to be able to have such a level of trust in my name that when someone comes along and starts talking bad about me, everyone that hears it immediately doesn’t believe it.

Ecclesiastes 7:1a says “A good name is better than precious ointment…” Imagine, even the mention of your name could bring healing, reduce pain & reduce discomfort in the person who hears it.  Does the very mention of your name cause heaviness to lighten in others?  Will others smile and be comforted when your name is brought into the conversation? They can be.

“I’d love to work with an Asian guy named Wu Hu, because just saying his name would get me all pumped up and excited.”
Jarod Kintz, There are Two Typos of People in This World: Those Who Can Edit and Those Who Can’t. 

Rev.  Bob Yandian from Grace Church in Tulsa, Ok. mentioned in his series “One Flesh” that whenever you read the words “My Son” in the book of Proverbs, the message that is really being conveyed is “Builder of the family name”.  Adapt this for yourself.  Realize that what you say and do really does matter.  Rise above the labels that people have tried to chain you with and render their words untrue.  You can do it!

What prejudices have you faced and how did you live them down?  I would love to hear your comments.

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Are people trying to hold you back? Here’s what to do.

traffic cone When I was a younger man, I was an angry man. I had a thin skin and I took everything to heart. I lived in a constant state of being offended because someone didn’t take me seriously enough, or mocked me in some way. Even when my friends would joke around with me, it was always a gamble as to whether or not I would take it the right way or get upset. Remember what I said in a previous post? We all want everyone to always at all times think the very best of us. I realize I’m not alone in this. Many of us struggle with this same thing.

I thank God that I worked with one man who had the guts to be direct with me about this. He came to me one day and said “You need to deal with your attitude. No one likes working with you and you might get fired”. In my opinion, he was a pretty nice and well liked man. I also knew that he didn’t want me to get fired. I knew that his words were coming from real concern, so I asked him for help. One of the first assignments that he gave me was to read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It started me down the road to changing myself and helped me immeasurably. I now try to read this book at least once every two years.

I began to really apply myself to be better in these areas and I began to really grow. Some years later, the son of a co-worker was working with us as a general worker over the summer. I was working near him one day and tried on several occasions to start a friendly conversation to no avail. He would not converse with me. I have known this young man since he was in grade school and he was a good boy. As far as I could remember, I had not done anything to hurt him. I didn’t understand why this happened. It’s hard to endure that kind of treatment and not get “sharp” with people, but I didn’t. I thought about it a lot though. After calming down and thinking about it logically, what I realized was that I was not spoken well of in his house. I worked with one of his parents and they, unfortunately, were still seeing me as the angry young man. This young man wasn’t seeing me for who I am, he was seeing me through a bias that was put into him long ago.

I realized that even though I had changed (and I had dramatically), I was not going to be allowed to redefine myself to these people. To them I was always going to be an angry young man. They were going to see everything I did through that lens.

We see that God told Abram to get out of his country, away from his relatives, and away from his father’s house and God would make of him a great nation (Gen 12:1-2). The Bible isn’t specific about this but I wonder if in order to make Abram a great nation, God first had to get him away from people who would not let him change. What if staying there would have kept him from ever reaching out to receive God’s will and plan. Abram may have had a relative that “put him in his place” every time he saw them.

Not even Jesus was immune to this. Mark 6:1-6 tells us that He went into His own neighborhood and began to teach in the synagogue but His friends, neighbors and family were astonished. They said “How’s he doing these miracles? And who taught him this stuff? He’s doing all these miracles, where did he get this power? Isn’t this the carpenter’s boy? Didn’t he fix the spoke on my ox cart just the other day? My boy has a crush on his little sister! His momma lives right over there!” The Bible says that even though they acknowledged that He was healing people and teaching wonderful things, that they were still offended by Him. The Bible says that He marveled at their unbelief and couldn’t do any mighty works there because of it. They were unwilling to let Him change! It was God’s will but that didn’t matter. They knew who He really was…or so they thought.

So what do you do? Sometimes the people who want to hold you back or hold you down are people that you really care about. How do you deal with it? The best way is to do what Jesus did.

    1. Identify it. Jesus called it out and pulled it into the light of day. I think it’s worthy of note that according to what Jesus said; a Prophet has no honor in the same places that God told Abram to leave. Country, kinfolks & father’s house. The people who know you best are often the ones who don’t like it when you are growing. Jesus pointed this out to them.

      If you want to maintain these relationships, you will need to address your situation directly. If these people truly care about you, they will adjust and be supportive.

    1. Don’t let it stop you! Jesus didn’t let it stop Him. He still laid His hands on a few sick folks and healed them. Even in the face of opposition that was trying to get Him to back down and get “back in His place”, He kept on doing what He knew was right.

      You need to make a quality decision that you will not stop doing what’s right just because others aren’t recognizing or accepting it. I am fully persuaded that a person should act according to their own decisions and not always just be reacting to what others do to them. Make the right choice and then dig in and stick to it.

    2. Work toward correcting the situation. Jesus went around the villages teaching. Even if only a few would listen, the seed would grow and the message would spread. He set about to build faith in the people. 

      You will need to become your own evangelist so to speak. Begin walking it out. So you’ve changed? Prove it! Every day with every step and every word.

    3. Set yourself apart. Abram left his whole identity behind in order to become what God had for him. You may not need to be that drastic, but you may need to leave some relationships behind. In drug and alcohol treatment, one of the things you must do in order to be successful at recovery is to Change Your Playground. The recovering person has to find friends that will not be sticking the addiction in their face all the time. Very often, if someone relapses, it’s because they started hanging out with old friends again. Changing your playground can be very painful but in order to move forward, it may be necessary. It also doesn’t mean that you have to amputate certain people, It may just mean that you have to keep them at arm’s length for a while.

When you start moving forward and begin to pass the limitations and boundaries that were holding you back, many will be supportive, but some won’t. The important thing is that you move in the right direction and that you fortify yourself to stay the course. Don’t let the negativity of others hold you back and continue to define you.

Join the conversation. How did you overcome the resistance from others who wouldn’t allow you to change? I would love to hear your comments.

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Want to know why I am the man I am today? Here’s why.

Windmill Cookies croppedWhen I was in about first grade, my mom started going to church.  Mom grew up catholic and my grandparents attended a catholic church.  I however, had not really gone to church much before first grade.

It wasn’t a very big church but I remember it had lively music and some people in the congregation would play tambourines during the songs.  It also had old oak church pews with no cushioning at all.  I remember that we had a lady Pastor who carried a huge purse.  All the ladies carried these purses back then, you know, they had kind of a cinch sack top and you could carry a bowling ball in them if you wanted to.  I also remember a lot of the ladies used to wear their hair up.

It didn’t take me long to make a friend at church, his name was William South.  William was a little older than me and knew a few things.  For instance, William knew that if you could find a tambourine cymbal that may have come loose & rolled near you (they occasionally did), then find a lost bobby pin, which wasn’t that difficult because all the ladies wore their hair up, and if you happened to have brought a rubber band with you to church, you could fashion yourself a fine sling-shot that would send a tambourine cymbal flying far and noticeable!  I have often thought since then that William and I should have just packaged that idea and called it “Whippin’ in a can”.  Whether it was that, or some other scheme that I invented to keep from being bored in church, the results always seemed to be the same.  I got spanked when I got home. I have since joked with my mom that it’s a wonder that I’m a Christian today considering all of the times I was punished when I got home for being rowdy during service.

Not long after that, my dad also recommitted his heart to the Lord and began to go with us.  Together, they set out to show us that what they believed was worth believing.  It was worth instructing their family about.  My mom meant business when it came to God.  She was not fake about her Christian walk. Her and dad conveyed to us that we could have a relationship with God for ourselves and that He was worth having a relationship with.

“There never was a woman like her. She was gentle as a dove and brave as a lioness… The memory of my mother and her teachings were, after all, the only capital I had to start life with, and on that capital I have made my way.”
– Andrew Jackson

I am convinced that I am the godly man that I am today because of what my mom put into me.  She formed me in two distinct ways.

  1. The things that she taught me. I remember when I was in third grade my mom used to take me into her bedroom with her and pray with me.  This was her prayer time and she would pray for an hour.  She was teaching me to pray and also trying to build into me a habit of prayer.  I thought later that I should have hid army men in my parents’ bedroom so I could have something fun to do during this time.
  2. The way that she lives.  I also remember the elderly mother of a family friend came to live with us.  My sister and I called her “Grandma Davis”.  My mom took care of her for a while.  This was right after my little brother, also known as “the breaker of my toys” was born.  I remember because mom would order me to watch him while she would go help Grandma Davis.  Mom was not only willing but glad to help out this way.

“My mother never gave up one me. I messed up in school so much they were sending me home, but my mother sent me right back.”
– Denzel Washington

I am grateful for the faithfulness of my mom.  Through the hard years she stuck it out when no one else did and did her best.  All of her children are grown now but she’s still there to help when she can.  I am so grateful that she paid attention to the person I was becoming and disciplined me when I needed it.  I am living proof of Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. 

I honor my mom with every breath and every heartbeat. I want to live my life so as to cause glory to fall on my mom and I thank God for her.

Mom, I love you and you really are my hero! Happy Mother’s Day!

 

My life seems stalled! How do I fix it?

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were stalled and just didn’t know what to do?  I have – a bunch of times.   So many times as you grow up and try to find your way, you run into these “walls” where you just don’t see what to do next.  You can’t see any options.  You’re stuck!  You may have never had to come down this road before and you don’t see the next step. What do you do?

dash lights & Tach

THATS NOT GOOD!!!

Not long after my parents divorced, my mom needed stuff done to her car.  She didn’t know what else to do, so she asked my grandpa, her dad, for help.  My grandpa took me, little Artie, out to the garage that day (I was 10) and I thought “Oh awesome, Grandpa’s going to let me help him”.  Grandpa helped me get the front end in the air and break all of the nuts & bolts loose, and then sat on a stool in the garage and step-by-step talked me through the process of performing a complete brake job on my mom’s car.  He only got up to check the torque on the nuts & bolts and to help me “slowly” get the car down.  That was the first of many times that grandpa helped me do things like that.

That marked me that day.  I began to watch him. He probably didn’t know how closely I was noticing the things that he said and the choices that he made.  He had an entire wall in his breeze-way that was made of brick and had a fireplace right in the middle of it.  He built the whole thing.  I asked him one day how he did it and he replied “I went to the library & got a book, then I went to the store & bought a diamond edged saw”.  I can’t even begin to estimate how much he helped me and imparted wisdom to me over the years.

The Bible says in Leviticus 19:32 (BBE) “Get up from your seats before the white-haired, and give honor to the old, and let the fear of your God be before you: I am the Lord”.  As I grew and matured I began to realize that the Elders that God had put in my life were and are a wealth of wisdom to me.  I can think right now of some very significant people in my own life that gave me excellent counsel in my difficult times.

  1. Grandparents – Never sell them short.  Your grandparents have seen things and have the wisdom to help you navigate some pretty sticky situations.  Besides that, they are probably your number 1 fan and love you. They are on your side.
  2. Teachers – I have not had many, but there were a few teachers that reached further & demonstrated that they cared more than the others.  I have on occasion gone to them with questions about how to get past road blocks in my life.
  3. Counselors – I have had the pleasure of knowing some great people in this area.  Nearly all of them were interested in helping young people.
  4. Elders in the Church – This is true even today.  I have received some of the best counsel and advise from older gentlemen that I have submitted myself to.  They have been down the road, and have probably seen what you’re facing before.
  5. Elders at work – Most of the time I have found that co-workers are not that close.  There are occasions though where an older co-worker will become like a mentor to you and help you steer your career.

In all of these relationships, the key to receiving wisdom and advise is to ask. You must be willing to receive the help.  Again, I can’t stress this enough, you must humble yourself and be teachable.  Remember, God hasn’t left you twisting in the wind.  He has provided help for you.  Honor the Elders in your life and listen.  They have lots to say.

Join the conversation.  How has the wisdom of the Elders in your life helped you?  Please post your comments.

 

 

Blow the lid off of your vision!

IMAG0352My dad left our family when I was 10. After that he had very little contact with us. I’m still not really sure why, but it left me messed up. To borrow a phrase from the song “Father of Mine” by the band Everclear “I will always be weird inside, I will always be lame” was pretty much the way I lived. Having no real example of how to be a man, I became what was easy to become, kind of a directionless loser. By the time I reached 18 years of age, I had a broken heart, no job, no money, no Driver’s license, no direction and no future. THANK GOD I’m not there anymore!

What I want to talk about isn’t the tragedy of my life though, but instead to focus on the road from there to where I am today.

I wanted three main things out of life back then:

  • I wanted EVERYONE to ALWAYS AT ALL TIMES think the very best of me.
  • I wanted life to deliver up to me all of the opportunities that I would need to be rich and live on easy street. You know, to not have to sweat the small stuff…and to own a Lamborghini.
  • I didn’t want to have to work very hard for it.

After all, I was a pretty good guy. I wasn’t unnecessarily selfish or self serving. When I had to be that way (which was a lot of the time) it’s because I was proving that I was worthy of being taken seriously and that I was anyone’s equal. You know, the image of the young man with his breast swelled up, trying to stand toe to toe in conversion with men who were much more seasoned than he was. The image I have is of Eddie Haskell from “Leave it to Beaver”. That guy had a different face for nearly every person he knew. The truth though, was that I was NOT anyone’s equal. I was “Limited Edition”. You know, like Microsoft Word “Starter edition”. Not all of the wonderful features were working or available.

I had a lid over my life and I could not rise above it because I didn’t know it was there. It was a massive limit on my thinking. When I thought of nice cars, nice houses, good neighborhoods, respectable standing in the community, I was thinking of someone else’s life. The life that I knew wasn’t like that at all and I couldn’t identify with it. It was a desire, but it was a detached and kind of surreal desire and I couldn’t see myself there.

I began to think about all of the young people that I know today that find themselves in the same kind of place in their own lives. They may have a parent that is also gone or absentee. Here’s the thing though. God will not leave you without help. What I realized as I look back on my own situation is that God brought many wonderful people into my life to be examples to me and to help me. I can think right now of dozens of people who taught me, helped me and were examples for me. Some even developing deep relationships with me that we still share today. When I think about how big of an idiot I used to be, I am thankful for the patience that many of them displayed, all because God would not leave me without help.

Guess what? He didn’t leave you without help either. Ask God to bring people into your life that can teach you what you need to know. He will connect you with people who will show you where your thinking is limited and will help you develop greater vision for your own future. You will be able to see yourself going places and doing things that you could not have dreamed of before. Jeremiah 29:11 (WEB) says “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says Yahweh, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you a hope and a future”. God’s plan for your life is far above your limited thinking. He will take you places that you never dreamed possible. A note of advice though. You will have to be teachable. You must make this decision now. The people God brings into your life may not always speak to you in comfortable tones and if you get easily offended, you will miss out. The truth is, you’re not perfect so decide in advance to be willing to accept correction. If you will do this, I promise you will grow.

I’m thinking right now of the people who helped me to blow the lid off of my thinking and helped me to develop greater vision. I am so thankful for each and every one of them. He will do the same for you too!

Please leave a comment & share your own examples of lifting the lid.

The road of honor – Where to start.

New Year’s Eve 2009, my family and I were on our way home from my wife’s parents’ house.  We had spent the evening eating junk food & playing games but everyone was getting pretty tired so we decided to go home.  It was right about midnight (I remember because of the fireworks) when a small Mazda coming toward us spun out of control. It hit the big pickup truck in front of us, turning the truck in the road about 120 degrees & then tail whipped right into the front of our car.  It hit us so hard that it slapped the front of our car clear off into the ditch. The Mazda was wrecked in both the front and the rear.

We were all okay, escaping with just a little seat belt rash and some muscle stress from the accident, but our car was totaled.  The 19 year old young man driving the Mazda was okay too.  He kept apologizing and it became pretty clear that he was under the influence of alcohol.

A lot happened that night.  The Highway Patrol & the Fire Department showed up, made sure everyone was okay & took our information. Then I realized that the young man’s father had also arrived. He made sure his son was okay and was now talking to the state trooper. The father had a weary look on his face.  It seemed by his actions that he was very embarrassed by his son’s behavior that night.  When he was also informed that his son had refused towing service because “his dad had a guy” the father sighed and his head just dropped into his hand.  He was ashamed.  I remember thinking as I watched it “This is the exact opposite of honor”.  Accidents sometimes can’t be avoided, but that night there were some very bad choices made that led up to this one.

Proverbs 17:2 says “A servant who does wisely will have rule over a son causing shame, and will have his part in the heritage among brothers” (BBE).

It’s so important to understand that the first part of honoring your mother and father is to NOT cause shame.  I know there are plenty of times when I was a fool and embarrassed my parents.  I am personally responsible for many of the gray hairs on their heads.  It took me a long time to understand what it really means to honor them. I wish that someone would have helped me understand honor and why it’s important when I was a much younger man.  I will share more about honor in upcoming posts but the simplest way to define it for me is “to heavily value”. As we grow up we sometimes forget that we’re still sons & daughters and that what we do directly reflects on how we were raised.  God holds us strictly accountable to honor our Father and Mother (Ex. 20:12).  We do that with our life, by being quality people, and it doesn’t end when our parents are gone. We honor them for the rest of OUR lives.

I would love to hear your thoughts on honoring your parents. Please add your comments.