Blame me


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As soon as we find someone to blame, we act as if we’ve solved the problem. – Margaret J. Wheatley

In the past I only listened with the intent of responding my point, even if it was not concerning the same topic we were discussing. My opinion was so important to me that I truly didn’t even listen to what the other was even trying to discuss. The chance of a connection was destroyed by my lack of allowing a two way conversation to take place. My thought was “ahh, problem solved” and we moved on most of the time, never truly coming to any conclusion about the topic that was brought up in the first place.

 

Today I listen with the intent of understanding and taking it a step further, feeling and relating to what has been said. I can only speak for myself when I say I feel it has created true intimacy in my relationships and even opened up many connections I never imagined possible. Everyone likes to be heard, and they love to be understood. Learning to understand someone’s emotions about a topic of discussion has probably been one of the greatest tools I have learned to date.

Learning to “feel” others is a gift to both, the wisdom to seek the connection of others is a blessing and the knowledge not to assign blame is the goal.

Original artwork by Arthur Braud and has a special place in the heart of my marriage.
 

Learning to Fall


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“Life in abundance comes only through great love”. – Elbert Hubbard

Today I fell, it has been so long since I have fallen yet the pain is so fresh.

Today I slipped back into who I never wanted to see again.

Today I know that I do not have to stay in that dark place.

Today is not ruined by my fall, it is not tainted by my failure, and it is made healthier by how I got back up and was capable of seeing the success and confidence that I will succeed.

Today I see a renewal of my freedom to choose and to love.

“The essence of life is not in the great victories and grand failures, but in the simple joys”. – Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Today I have simple joy…

Our Missing Men


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Where are our children heading? They are heading for the open internet and with it so readily available at school, on their phones and at home we as parents need to come alongside them and lead by example.

What they are finding on the world wide web is terrifying.
I have personally experienced what damage an internet predator can inflict from the comfort of our homes so the “ahh it won’t happen to me” is crap..

I may be happening and you might not even know it.

I know pornography is a sensitive subject to discuss and I have also learned that just because something is not talked about doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem.

Here are some stats I found just to put some numbers and perspective around the subject of pornography. What I found is actually on the modest side of the numbers I have seen on other sites.

 

30 percent of the searches done on the internet are porn or adult content related. This is a huge increase from the 13% in 2010.

The sex industry is the most profitable. Are you ready for this? The porn industry will hit $97 billion by the end of the year, which is far more than Google at $66 Billion (2014)

Over 35 percent of the internet industry is porn related content.

The most searched term globally is “teen”. The search for this term quadrupled in 10 years, since 2005. Over half a million users search the word “teen” in porn related searches… Daily, yes daily.

Nearly 9 out of 10 (87%) of young men and 1 out of 3 (31%) of young women report using pornography.

Studies have found that American children start consuming pornography at the age of 11. So who are the largest group of internet consumers of internet pornography? Males between the ages of 12 and 17.

Source: www.ebaumsworld.com

Boys that will possibly be growing into men, fathers and husbands. They will be leaders in our churches, leaders in our homes and public figures. Our children are at risk of losing the war against their own eyes. Their willpower is being diluted by the acceptableness of a promiscuous lifestyle and the YOLO themed vision. Marriage is an option and multiple partners is viewed as the norm. What is the message our children are experiencing? Love is a beautiful sexy beach body and being loved means to give what others want. Our boys are becoming douche bags before they are out of middle school and our girls are handing out their puerity like a kiss of our day. The age of sexual experimentation is getting younger and younger.
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Reading about the science of porn on the brain above is a image of the area of the brain that are engaged when experiencing sexual desire (B) and love (C). Porn creates a dependency to chemicals produced in the brain similar to a drug addiction and with the rise in how acceptable it is in society it is not getting easier for us to separate from the desire to seek the next fix.

I can’t remember exactly the first sexual involvement with the sight of a woman’s body and yet I know that it has always been available. The first I can remember was on USA’s up all night and I clearly remember the feeling and was hooked. The women were so beautiful and the feeling of excitement guaranteed my attention as a very young boy. This was the beginning of my addiction. I grew up lacking many rules let alone what I watched on the television. So U.S.A., HBO and Cinemax had everything a young boy desired to see until I began to pursue more. Then came the magazines fueling my craving to see a deeper level of a woman’s body. I never had to hide my posters, drawings or magazines and I think that saved me from totally destroying my life, let me explain.

You see it was never taboo, it was never seen as negative or an addiction until I was in my late 20’s, married, and had children. When the conversation about Pornography came up in my marriage I had never thought of what it was doing to my wife and how it would create a numbness with intimacy. I never connected how it creates a damaged view of the existence of a woman as an equal and not a lesser vessel to serve men.

Imagine the confusion of a boy viewing the dominance of men over women and being raised by a single mother. I have since broken the ties pornography has on me and am learning what true intimacy and love is. I pray that my past damage has not crept into our daughter’s view of what they see and search for in men. Save our children, fight for our marriages and break the chains pornographic addiction has in society. Strive and learn to bring back family values and traditions in our homes.

Relay of Life


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Picture life as a long relay race and our actions in life as the baton, we live our lives and through our encounters with others, passing our baton to others that will carry on how we treat them into their lives.

I choose to give myself freely and without selfishly seeking what I can get in return. We only have one life, this life, and we will never see this life again.

“It is not what we get, but who we become, what we contribute… That gives meaning to our lives”. – Tony Robbins

I have this saying that goes back to when we had our first daughter and it has been the one consistent thought that drives what I want for our future. My wife and I were talking one night and I remember saying to one another “I want so much better for her then what we had” and the words “break the cycle” were speaking to my heart. From that moment I saw the weight of the generational destruction in our lives that have been passes from parent to child and we knew something had to change.

We considered the fact that someone has to stop this from destroying what we love. So we said “let it be us, let us be the generation that destroys the weight of what divorce, abandonment and abuse can do to their lives”.

I am proudly married to the only wife I have had and only wife I will ever have, the mother of my children and love of my life. We met as teenagers and have had our share of terrible times and here we are still fighting for love 17 years later.

One day who I was will only continue in the pictures and memories of others, I want them to be marvelous memories that will last from generation to generation. I want my children’s children to be impacted by how I loved their great grandmother and how I loved their parents. Life seems to drift away only leaving behind the passed down lesions and actions learned, and I dream of an abundant love that will be passed down through our children.

Man in the Jacket


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“Love is the ultimate meaning of everything around us, Love is not a mere sentiment, and Love is the ultimate truth at the heart of creation”. – Rabindranath Tagore

Love is (in my opinion) the most necessary basic emotion as a human to foster connection. It can heal damage that appears un-healable, it can mend relationships that we feel may be lost and it is the only form of adoration that can destroy hate.

Love is an action not only a word; it is a humble sacrifice with no intended reciprocation.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins”. – 1 John 4:10 (NIV)

Look at the sacrifice Jesus made to cover our sins and for payment he gave his life for us. I understand not everyone is follower of Jesus so simply look at the context, would you give your life if you knew it would save your child? Now how about someone you never met? That is faith and love in its purest form.

Without faith there can be no love, faith in another, faith in the love you give being recognized and even accepted. I have faith that one day I will learn to love others with no reserve and I have faith that one day I will open to the possibility of another loving me.

It has taken me most of my life to even begin to see what love is and I am only scratching the surface. Imagine how many in our communities that have never even felt what love is. They are the lost, criminals, orphans, homeless and they are the broken. I heard a great message at a banquet last night about where Jesus and true love shows up. It shows up where a motivated Christian intersects with a person in need. How many people in need have you encountered, now how many have you helped? I fail at this every day because of my pride and judgments towards them.

“Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love”. – Erich Fromm

I had an amazing opportunity to meet a gentleman last night that was in need, he was angry, suffering from a mental illness and pacing around the banquet hall. No one wanted to engage him out of fear of what he might do. I uncomfortably approached him and was overtaken by the sense of pain in his eyes. He was full of fear of everyone there, just as they were of him. I talked to him for about 20 min, invited him to sit with me and gave him some cake and water. The little act of love opened up his heart and as he began to tear up he hugged me and thanked me for my kindness.

That is love, I didn’t know if he had a gun, a knife or what his intentions were at the event.  All I knew was someone had to do something, so I stepped out in faith and it ended with a huge hug and tear in his eyes.

I made a difference in his life and he fed into my life with love in return.

Move Together


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Knowing what is really going on in my life with understanding as too why I do what I do has brought a clarity and the ability to set obtainable goals for my vision.

I am a huge dreamer and often drift from reality as and escape from the stress of life and knowing that at one time in my life it was needed as a form of protection and is no longer needed. Many years later I still default to drift from stressful situations as opposed to digging into the root of what causes the stress to begin with.

My wife and I had a tough conversation yesterday and I began to set up walls and drift from where the conversation took us. After seeing and understanding what I was doing I said to myself “is this how I want our connection to be”? Shallow, superficial, and trivial or do I want to learn intimacy, tenderness and understanding?

I now understand how I fell in love with her; I remember who she was so many years ago, before children, before full time jobs and owning our home, before the stress of car payments, water bills and what garbage service we are going to use and most importantly before trying to fit 20 hours of events into 7 hours. Back when love radiated from us like light in a dark room and stress was only something we heard about.

I understand who she is to me and who I am to her and I was not exactly excited about either until now.

We have always had a way of connecting on a level that was almost spiritual, understanding what we are saying without saying anything and simply clicking. I have known from day 1 that there was something special about her and I as a team, the way others look to us, the way it is “Scott and Sandy” and the force that we have surrounding us. It has recently came to me that we are not only a team, we are a great team and that we have a huge impact together as well as individuals to come along side people in our lives. This has feed into my inspiration to step out and connect with others and hopefully make an impact in their lives through understanding and empathetically reaching others.

It has always been a dream of ours to be a part of the growth of others, whether it is marriage, family issues or individual struggles. I guess the bigger picture is that they are all intertwined and you cannot impact one without the other. So as we begin our stepping out I am excited and curious to see where we will go and how we will become a better team.

χαρις


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Love isn’t supposed to answer all your questions, it is not designed to make you into someone better nor fix life’s issues; It is a mutual partnership between great friends that have decided to make a commitment to remain best friends until the end of their lives. My advice is to use curiosity as one of the guides for love, remain curious about one another, seek to know each other deeper, more intimately and openly.

Over the last couple weeks I have set off on a new journey to be open, honest and life giving (to name a few) and I noticed something very quickly, you get what you give. If you give 75% to someone that in turn places a limit on the amount you can receive from them.

Until now others were lucky to get a small portion of that 75% that I was willing to give. I can for the first time in my life say I am ready to give 100% to my wife, friends and family.

I have had it wrong for far too long and I thank God for the gift of grace that my wife has been given. We recently had our first “very tough obstacle” with one of our children and going into our talk together I was nervous about how either of us would enter into this tough area with our child. I had no idea how to open up the discussion and certainly didn’t know what to say. When my wife began to speak and open her heart I saw very quickly that this was not my time to say anything, her words, emotion, clarity speaking into the situation rendered me speechless. The love and vulnerability poured from her like a waterfall and I have never been so proud of my wife for how she showed up to a seemingly impossible situation and nailed it.

I said to her after “you showed up as a perfect example of a mother”.

I am proud to have such an amazing woman by my side and I am blessed far beyond what I deserve for how I have treated her in the past.

On her wrist is a tattoo that says χαρις, it means grace in Greek and words fail to explain the depth of what the tattoo represents in her life. I am adding one thing to my journey and that is to make an effort to show my appreciation for who she is and everything she has to offer our family. Today I am humbled and proud that she chose me of the millions of people on this planet.

THAT, is a gift that deserves my 100% dedication to our commitment.

Mint Fields


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Bitterness, it can leave a nasty taste in your mouth and hinder the enjoyment of food for a while after. This is the same when held onto and stuffed away in our lives.  Unfortunately most of the time it  comes up when you least expect it and is taken out on those who do not deserve it.

Bitterness was explained to me as similar to a mint plant. One little plant will continue to grow and spread like a weed sending out a large root system to other areas of your field, in this case your life. This creates us to think we have it under control and still have it show up to many others and not even know it.

The definition of bitter: having a harsh, disagreeably acrid taste, like that of aspirin, quinine, wormwood, or aloes. Producing one of the four basic taste sensations; not sour, sweet, or salt.

For many years I was hanging on to the issues I faced as a child with my family, friends and classmates. One little event after another began to pile up inside and I continued to hide it away from fear of a confrontation of any kind. I was a very skinny, tall, pail skinned redhead with freckles so fitting in was always my number one goal. My lack of confidence and self-esteem made for a perfect opportunity for others to take advantage of me and my desire to “fit in” only fuel their attempts.

I was picked on and bullied a bit but honestly I didn’t have a hard time in school because I had a couple of very important gifts, one I was very quick to think of something to say and two most of it was very funny. This is an attribute I carry to this day with pride.

One thing was missing in all of the laughter and humor, it is true happiness. I was still alone inside and this loneliness would be the seed of my bitterness that has been growing for the better part of 30 years.

The mint plant I cultivated would come out many years later in conversations with my wife and children, and neither of them played a part in or was even around during the time of abuse, yet they are still mistreated as if they were the cause of my bitterness.

Up until the last month I had no idea what bitterness was or how it affected me. Now I can see how it was a tool developed to fight back without actually fighting. It is an act of violence to others and can create serious damage if not worked through. In my opinion it is the one act that truly brings you down the road of emptiness, loneliness and separation.

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“Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness”. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I know from personal experience how damaging it can be to live with bitterness and unforgiveness. I like to say it’s like taking poison and hoping your enemy will die. And it really is that harmful to us to live this way”. – Joyce Meyer

I have begun the process of digging up the roots of my mint plants and working through some of the deep anger and hurts that became the seeds of my bitterness. The more I dig the lighter I feel, and the more freedom from the burdens of all the aggressions I release.

No more passive aggressive pokes or taking it out in small doses to those around me.

I have a new plan for my life, the plan is to harvest all the mint in my life and to spend the remaining years of my life surrounded by my friends and family while enjoying a never ending supply of mint for our mojitos.

The Being Exposed Challenge


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So this morning I heard about a challenge, it’s called the Listerine challenge. I didn’t even ask, and yes I’m out of the loop and in fact it is nice.
This got me thinking about all the challenges over the last few years, Ice bucket challenge, fire challenge, cold water challenge and on and on. We are always trying to create a shock value to make ourselves feel import, needed and to set up something new (I’m no exception).

So I have a new challenge that is meaningful, life changing and life giving. Call it the “The being exposed challenge” and the point of this is to be real, be genuine, be honest, and show love.

How easy is it to be a jerk every day, yea it’s too easy and what does that get you? I’m sure not many people would love to be close to someone that is a jerk every day…

So here is how it works:

·         When someone asks you something, answer them WITH WHAT YOU ARE SAYING IN YOUR HEAD and if it is offensive have a conversation about why you think that way.

·         Be willing to step out and connect a little with others. So you risk getting your feelings hurt, how does loneliness feel? (I thought so)

·         Risk being open to the possibility that YOU MIGHT NOT ALWAYS BE RIGHT. If you are always right this world would be a mess with all the failures you have faced. (Yes I have as well)

·         Change the mindset that the world revolves around you! The world will carry on with or without you in it.

·         Show your emotions, happiness, sadness, loneliness, anger, fear, whatever you are feeling learn “to be in it” and address what is going on with the people involved. Yes that means TALK TO THEM!

So after doing all of the challenges if your life doesn’t begin to change, if your relationships do not begin to become genuine and open or if you do not begin to attract others with questions of what is wrong with you, then you are not giving it 100%.

Give it a try, I did and I feel saddened by the years I have wasted behind the walls I created to keep others at arm’s length. I changed this mindset a little over a week ago and WOW words cannot describe the changes in my feelings, outlook of life and the connections that were just waiting for me to let my walls down. This change came from an amazing opportunity that myself and wife have been a part of called Awaken by GAP Community and I cannot even begin to tell you how powerful this experience was for me.

We are going to be a part of GAP Community’s Awaken here in Michigan because I believe in it so much. Those of you who know me know that I do not stand for much with the exception of my wife and children; I stand for what this has opened in my family, my marriage and every relationship I have in my life.

It honestly has equipped me to change who I am. I would love to chat in person or over the phone about my experience and the reason for that is so you can see I’m not simply writing about this, I live this…. #RealLife #gapcommunity #awaken