We Are Our Problems


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Our lives are examples of the exact patterns we desire to break.

What we think is what we will become, change your thinking and change the outcome of what you will become.

I read an article on how humans adapt to their environment both physically and mentally. The article point of reference was more towards the environmental aspect and it was still interesting to read how as humans we tend to become a product of our environment. For instance, if you grow up on a farm as a farmer you are going to have a more physical working lifestyle as opposed to if you grow up in the city and have a desk job. You will see the world differently as being a different “product of our environment”.

“We are what we repeatedly do” – Aristotle

Create what you desire and it can be achieved.
I desire a healthy lifestyle, am I going to get it by not sleeping enough, not eating healthy and not regularly exercising? No, but often we expect it to happen. Our minds work the same way, think of what you want, set a goal and plans on how to reach what you desire and begin. Step by step, day by day you will begin to change, we are created to change and adapt. I personally get stuck in the day to day monotony of life, get up, go to work, pick up the girls from school, homework, dinner, shower and bed and repeat… It’s only in the changes of the day to day I begin to feel alive, the vacations away from society, the beach days, the nights out with my wife and with our family. THAT is when I begin to feel human again. So I fight to use my mind and imagination in the day to day by writing and music.

What makes you happy?

What speaks to your heart?

What is it that makes you feel alive?

I love people, I like to interact, talk and relate to people. So my job at times can be very fulfilling to me and other times after working with the same people for many years the conversations have become dull and almost pointless at times. So the pursuit of happiness continues, the desire to become something more has begun once again..

Conditioning our mind is exactly like conditioning our body; it takes work and dedication to reach what we desire. The same way you would build a muscle by repeated movement and to strain it (challenge it) we can build our minds. Like building a muscle the same movement over and over can also break down the muscle. That is where changing up your workout (or thinking differently) is necessary.

Now there are some slight differences as humans that change how we live, genetic makeup, disposition of our personalities and views because of past experiences and how we were raised that make changing certain thought processes more difficult than others.

Here is an example.
For those who use text smiley faces here is a choice for you how do you see this?
:(:
Smile or frown?

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” – Albert Einstein

Personally I try to see things a bit optimistic and try to find the good in a bad situation. That gives me the opportunity to overcome at times and it also gives me the opportunity to not see the importance of working through some things fully and wanting to accept what has happened and move on.

– Sometimes it’s in the destruction we see the construction.

– Sometimes we need to feel something a bit deeper to spark the change needed in our minds to have the desire to change the way we think.

– Sometimes we are our own problems, and need a bump to get out of a bad thought pattern.

Are you going to continue to be your own problem or are you going to learn to be your own solution…..

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The Supurb Love


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Look back in your life at what you have done for love.

I’m sure there are good and bad memories and the things you don’t want to remember at all.

Focus the energy of today’s love on the positive actions associated with love, what you have done out of love, the sacrifices that have grown the love, the joy and the memories made because of all of it. Learn from the negative and fight to break the patterns formed out of it and develop a healthy love.

The greatest act of love is to sacrifice, to give, to exert energy and emotion for someone else with no return expected. When I think of the word love, desire comes to mind. The desire to “be something”, to someone, and it is up to you and the recipient of what you give to create that love. It doesn’t have to be romantic or sexual although the world portrays love as sex, every relationship in your life has a certain amount of love. We create the love between one another, like a balancing act of pushing and pulling, giving and taking; the dance of love.

This word is commonly thrown around and can lose it weight and meaning, like anything else, it has to be an action, not simply a word. I love you, and I sacrifice for you are not the same, one is a comment and one is an action. Love is hard to maintain, complacency and dullness can sneak in overtime and destroy what love is supposed to accomplish.

“Infuse your life with action.
Don’t wait for it to happen.
Make it happen.
Make your own future.
Make your own hope.
Make your own love.
And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator,
not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high,
but by doing what you can to make grace happen…
yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.”
– Bradley Whitford

So why am I writing about love?
Why spend the time to attempt to explain something so complex?

It is because I am trying to express the importance of the struggle of love and to stress how much it is needed in our lives. I know most of my readers are believers in God however that is where I will start. By love we are set free, Jesus was sent to earth in the form of a man born of a virgin and lived a sinless life, a perfect life only to be crucified by the ones he loved. Perfect example of love…

Christ could have said “see my son, see his life, perfect in every area  so now you all can see a sinless man” and let him return to the heavens. But he didn’t, he allowed us to beat him, spit on him, abuse his mind and body and betray him only to kill him and what did He say, “father forgive them, they know not what they do”. Love us to the end and all we give are the scraps of what we have left over from our lives. Let’s take a look at human nature, to use, abuse, take, and horde something that is given freely as a gift.

Look at the love in your life, look at what it is that you sacrifice for, is it enough? If the answer is yes your viewing love wrong, it should never be enough; it should never reach the goal and never stop. The way I love my wife and children are seen as “too much” by some, I say, was what Jesus did for us considered as too much? I give my life for my family freely, I was created to be a blessing to them and to bear my own cross for them, sacrifice for them. Yes I fail daily, yes I have my struggles with the when and how to love another and I’m willing to continue to learn what works and doesn’t work.

“We must be proactive in our love in order for it to change our lives.”
– Marianne Williamson

Love is a gift to give not something you hold on to or stock up on. Through life I have had some great ups and terrible downs and the one quote that I hold deeper than any that I have read is From Maya Angelou  “Have enough courage to trust, love one more time, always one more time. Love only stops when you stop giving it and it only ends when you end it. Love is in constant change, growing, evolving and developing and like any skill the more you use it the better you will become. I hope to never reach a level of contentment with my wife and daughter. I hope that I will learn and grow for the rest of my life. I hope to continually change and not get stuck in having a love that is simply good enough, I will fight to have a love that is superb…..

Roots of the Past, Wings of the Future


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With the holidays approaching the reminder of traditions, ringing like a bell in my head..

“Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can’t even describe, aren’t even aware of.” – Ellen Goodman

Growing up I didn’t have many traditions that we participated in as a family other than the holidays, Christmas at grandma and grandpa LaCoss house. I remember all the family showing up and thinking “where are we all going to fit?” As family began to poor in and find a place to sit or stand the conversations began the puns and jokes flowing like a river from Grandpa Jack and my uncles mouths. The jokes that were told were not understood until much later in life “thank God” and they will never be forgotten.

A much different tradition has taken place over the last 10 years, the tradition of not having a tradition. With every family doing their own thing, setting up their own rules and not coming together anymore, I begin to think of what we are going to leave for our girls to remember as a tradition.

My family has become a broken memory of what it once was and a painful reminder of the bitterness of un-forgiveness that has taken over.  What once was a family of 30 strong have become many small gatherings of individual families.

With pride running deep into the hearts of some and bitterness and anger in others about the “who did what to who” and “I’m not going to say anything to anyone” and to hold it so tightly, like a gift.

I play my part by being one of the quiet ones and going with the flow only to hut others in the process. Feeling stuck in the middle loving everyone in my family and having a special part in my heart for all of them I back off and do nothing, only to look at what my girls will see as a tradition.

We have begun to do exactly what I am writing about, Thanksgiving at home, Christmas at home and not wanting to enter into the drama of what the holidays seem to bring is our new tradition. I would love nothing more than to have our girls experience what I did as a child and knowing that will most likely never be what it once was breaks my heart. One thing about Traditions I have learned is that no matter what the outcome of the tradition good or bad they are markers in our lives set as a reference point of a time or place in our lives.

To describe Christmas as a child I would not come close to hitting the mark, my words fall short to explain the pure joy and fun it was to have a small house full of family together for the holidays. I miss what it was and I miss many of the memories I had growing up and the time has come to make some  new traditions as small as they may seem to me they are the lifelong memories our draughts will have to hold on to.

“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children one is roots, the other is wings”. – Hodding Carter

The image above is a tattoo on my chest that I share with my brother, it says family in Hebrew and has a very special place in my heart.

Jesus in My Pocket


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With today’s insanely high use of technology and the desires of a quick responses to any need to be filled immediately God has became an option in our lives and in some cases nonexistent at all.

Face in the phone, our mind on sports, social media, vacations, getting away, retirement and the end of the struggle. I caught myself thinking “man 2042 I can retire and off the grid I go” I was thinking I can’t wait to just disappear from everything, out on our lake house trolling around on our pontoon enjoying a glass of wine with my wife…. Ahh the life!

Then I quickly corrected myself, I am not called to disappear, I am not called to end my life as a helper and retreat to my safe place. I am called to give, sacrifice and bless others until I pass on! I want to be a blessing in the life of others for my entire life, not to drop the facade after I get older and relax as if I have paid my due to society. I believe we are building an empire for our families, here on earth and in the after. That should not end, I feel we should be a blessing until the end.

How many of you know that cool old man that gave until he died, now think of the grumpy old man that sat in his house and yelled at the kids in the neighborhood “stay off my grass” . I want to be the old man that has stories the youth seek to hear about and learn from, not the grump.

We use God as an object, when I need you “you better show up”.   I sometimes catch myself with a little Jesus in my back pocket and when times get hard pull out my trump card only to find out that is not how it works. Then I get angry when what I expect to happen doesn’t, “You Fool” how will he bless me when I use him like I use my phone?

God was once the foundation of everything in America as well as in most homes in America, now he has been diluted and dulled down and used as a backup plan for things we can’t handle. When life gets tough “please Jesus give me strength”  when our lives begin to fall apart, “Why Jesus, is this happening”? the time has passed when we thank him for what we have, our lives and the many blessings we take for granted.

We have a habit of not feeling our prayers, it has become a duty not a desire to pray for the good and the bad.

“heavenly father, thank you for today, thank you for the blessings we have and the blessings that have yet to come. Thank you for the children you have given us and the marriage you continue to feed, my desire is not to stand on my own two feet but to rest in the promise of your word  and to walk blind to the world in your faith, Amen”.

I don’t want Jesus in my pocket, I want him in my heart. 

The Struggle of Community


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Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean. – Ryunosuke Satoro

We are not designed to be alone; we are not wired to be secluded or separate from one another. We are designed to thrive in community and strive for connection.

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”. – Henry Ford

Learning to endure the ways of the world and to fight the pressure of our peers as a follower of Christ is no easy task. Some do not understand the way we choose to live and to live following Jesus is one of the most radical experiences in life. It will turn what you thought you believed upside down, it can allow hate to be love, the rich to be humble and can give power to the weak.

According to the word there should be attention drawn to ourselves and questions about the way we live our lives. It is in these questions and through communication about our lives that we are to minister our testimony and give real life examples of His word and to be a living example of His love.

THAT is where the danger can creep in. It will creep in the form of false profits, in the small twist we put on his word and the dulling down of the truth to fit “today’s lifestyle”. When we are in community and we allow them to step in as a form of checks and balance and a level of accountability. Being alone or separated from friends and family makes it hard to have accountability and even harder to see how far you are off the path. Learning to allow others to speak the words of God into your life when you fall is not as easy as it sounds either, the last thing I want to hear when I’m down is how much I have messed up and that comes from my own shame not the ones reaching out to me.

With me, when I have fallen or walked away from my path the first thing I do is begin to separate from community. I push away friends and those who are close in order to stand on my own. This simple act of separation allows evil to creep in, like picking a single gazelle out of the pack to devour, I am alone for the picking.  In that time the fight seems to settle in my mind, the struggle seems to weaken and that is exactly what the enemy wants us to think. Reality is, my separation has created the calm before the storm and when that storm arrives I will not be ready to fight it and hold on. 

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12 (NIV)

Why struggle alone?

Struggle together, fight together and learn together! 

It takes a community to raise a family and it takes a family to create a community

Image credits – Alone In The Fog 2 Digital Art by Gun Legler http://becuo.com/man-standing-alone-art

Good Old Tree


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Don’t let your mind wander

Fight so your heart remains rooted in love

Love and hold on to the memories of the past

Let faith guide you to the water needed to live

Hope will feed the plans planted in soil

Grow steady like a tree, slow and strong

I know one day we will prevail

Love the memories of the night we met

You remain worthy of a fight we try to forget

More feelings flow, as we continue to grow

Every day my prayer remain as tears flow

Day continues, no matter how our leaves fall

We will one day be that good old tree

Will the desire, the shade our children need

Overcome and rest under that good old tree

100 Years


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100 years from now will you matter?
After your life has passed, what will you be remembered for?

Will you be remembered for the pain and broken dreams you caused or will you be remembered for the trials and failures you overcame? Will your life be a legacy of hope and love or a legacy of pain and sorrow?

Remove religion, remove government persuasion, remove gender and denomination. From one human to another, think about who you will be thought of.

 

Sonia Johnson
“Remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history”.

Albert Pike
“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal”.

Psalm 112:6

Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever.

If you would have asked me 20 years ago what I wanted to be remembered for it would have been a total different answer then I would give today. That in itself gives hope that plans change, people change and even our dreams change and my life is much better than I thought it would be as a teen.

We are not stuck where we are, it’s never too late to fix what has been broken. I have had 5,951 days that is equal to 16 years, 3 months and 15 days to start new with my wife, to mend what has been broken and to wake up next to her and try again.

At the age of 34 that is creeping up on half of my life with one person. The time spent together, the memories created and the life lessons learned are irreplaceable. That is my desire as my legacy, to have my children and grandchildren have the ability to look back and say “WOW, can you imagine what they have seen” and more importantly to be there with life experiences and to walk with them through the tough times.

I never want to miss seeing my daughters grow up, from losing their first tooth to the first boyfriend I want to be a part of it. I want to be that old man they call to watch the kids on date nights, to be the calm voice in the storm of life and to be an example of love to their mother. I want them to have an understanding of how to relate to a father and be an example of what a man should be. I want them to see a living example of Jesus and have a lifetime of memories to reach back to when times get hard. I would rather have few deep connections than many shallow.

What do you want to be remembered for, where will the next 100 years take you? It is in your hands.

Credit to the artist of this amazing piece of work: Hand drawn graphite on Duralar cast in layers of resin. Color made using layers of transparent tape. Brooks Salzwedel http://www.brookssalzwedel.com

Equipping the Tool Belt


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“If your only tool is a bomb, you tend to see every problem as a target” – Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Our tool belts of life should continually be checked, new tools added and old tools discarded and to learn what tools to use for what task.

You wouldn’t use a hammer to drive in a screw would you? So why is it that we use the wrong tools for the wrong jobs every day? It is because we are used to the outcome, we have grown accustom to the response we get (good or bad) we know what to expect and therefore know how to handle it.

We are creatures of habit, we tend to stick with what we know, sit in our comfort zones and only under pressure step into an unknown area of life. Sure sometimes we strive in certain areas of our lives to be more, do better or set higher standards. Under most situations it takes some sort of pressure to “inspire” us to move. Sometimes the desire is of a positive change and other times it comes from a negative change and both have pros and cons, both have a multitude of options and both have consequences.

Big choices in life are never easy and all choices change the future.

All my life I have carried a big hammer, I’m not saying I’m aggressive in nature, I just tend to limit myself to one tool that I know how to use and tend to try to fix all the “issues” I have approached. Thinking to myself “I have to fix it, I have to fix it, what to do, this has to be fixed and it has to be fixed today!?” If that didn’t work, looks like I need a bigger hammer, looks like I need to try harder, looks like I need to dig deep and find a resolve!

Sometimes a gentle approach is needed not a hammer, sometimes doing nothing is actually doing more and sometimes time is the most effective tool. With that said I do not like to wait, I do not like to sit in a messy situation so I suck it up and find a nice place out of sight to hide the issue. Only later to come back as a tree of destruction because of the small seed that was left to grow and fester.

I am learning that tools are a very necessary part of life, and having the right tools for the job is even more important.

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail” – Abraham Maslow

Learn to use a new tool, try something different for a change, open up and allow others to speak into your life and see what tools they have in their belt.

You will never know how easy it is to drive a screw with a screwdriver until you stop using a hammer.

The Drift


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In this world we often have to learn to drift, sometimes our drift from family and friends is needed to distance ourselves so we can grow as individuals. We are limited both in time and space and the who, how and when we chose to drift from is an important decision.

Sometimes that makes the relationships we do value all the more precious, but too often people drift apart and my family and friends are no exception….

When you hear the word boundaries what comes to mind? To limit, to separate, to monitor, to restrict, all have a bit of a negative connotation to them. The trouble is that no one wants to separate themselves from the ones that are supposed to love us….. a mother, a father, sisters, brothers. We have this preconceived idea that simply because they are family that we have to love them with no boundaries. That is the mistake; every human interaction from a father/son to husband/wife needs to have established boundaries.

At the age of 34, married for 15 years, two daughters and a busy life, I am beginning to learn about this task of setting boundaries. I have established a few guidelines over the years to help the “when and how” of implementing boundaries.

Most importantly when setting boundaries think to yourself is this relationship healthy or unhealthy, are you a positive influence to me and my family, how do you fit into my life? Are you life giving or do you suck the life out of me and my family?

In life there may come a time when the drift will become the separation, when the risk of damage is far too great to work with, a wall may need to be created. I have had to make changes to insure the safety of my family and some of those changes are to this day the hardest, yet most necessary steps I have taken in my life. Knowing how to set boundaries with love and allow time to mend and morph one another, is one of the most frustrating actions.

We all have expectations of ourselves and one another, we all are learning to give grace and time for the opportunity to change what need is not met in the relationship. Open communication and honesty are the key to success if there is a desire to continually build a relationship.

The drift is important to understand and the creation of healthy boundaries is essential for ANY relationship. From friend to family, co-worker to someone you just met, learning we are all in our own lives with our own goals and visions and to meet one another in that sweet spot of compromise is when a relationship blossoms into life.

Imagine


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“Everything you can imagine is real.”
– Pablo Picasso

“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.” – Albert Einstein

Imagine what our lives would be if we fully believed that the wars and trials we face in life have already been overcome.

Imagine the freedom of thinking “I have already won” with our families, our businesses, our marriages, and our friendships.

Imagine if we accepted that we are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus’s death on the cross.

Imagine if we grew to be thankful for everything we have, from the water we get without thinking about where we are going to get it to the hundreds of extra dollars we blow on “things we need.”

Imagine if we learned to love, truly love everyone in our circles of connection, and they all loved everyone in their circles.

Imagine if we had to sacrifice our child for the life of another, could you imagine a bigger sacrifice?

Imagine if we put all our faith in God for the plans that have been established for our lives, (our calling).

Imagine if we mended our lost or broken relationship with our family and learn to accept and give forgiveness.

Our imagination is a blessing from God, it is a necessary component that allows us to act of free will. It gives us the ability to chose how we live, what we believe and the path our lives will travel.

Imagine what life could be if we slow down enough to live it…