Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top 10 Moments of 2010

2010 is nearly over and a new year is upon us.  January 1 will bring New Year's Resolutions and goal setting.  Lose weight, quit smoking, exercise more, and get out of debt are always the most popular. (Here is a great resource for for breaking bad habits.)  I'm a huge fan of setting goals and believe they are necessary for success but I think there is something that you should do first. 

As we begin a new year don't forget to pause and reflect on the last year of your life.

What were your favorite moments?
What challenges did you face?
What changes did you make?
Who did you meet?
What did you learn?
Where did you go?

Answer these questions and remember the moments that changed you and shaped you over the past year.  As you write these down I think it's fun to rank them.  My wife and I started a tradition a few years ago and we create a Top Ten List at the end of each year.  We individually create our own personal list of about 20 memories on our own time and come together to create a Top Ten List as a family.

As you do this 1 of 2 things will happen:

1.  You will look back and be thankful for all that God has done in your life.  You will remember all of the blessings and challenges that you faced and look forward to the adventures that lie ahead in 2011. 

2.  You will look back and not be able to remember much.  Not because your memory is bad but because you spent too much time working, watching TV, and Facebooking that you didn't have time to meet new people, visit new places, experience new things, or make a difference in someone's life.  If this is you then begin to set goals so this doesn't happen again in 2011.

This is a great activity to do individually, with your spouse, or even with your whole family.  It is always interesting to see the favorite experiences of those that are close to you.

So before you set your goals and make your resolutions, take the time to remember the most important moments and create your own Top Ten of 2010.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top New Year's Resolutions for 2011

Here are the top New Year's Resolutions for 2011. 
(There were 10 but I combined some to make it 5.)

1.  Stop Smoking/Drink Less Alcohol
2.  Lose Weight/Exercise More
3.  Enjoy Life More/Spend More Time With Family/ Help People
4.  Learn Something New
5.  Get Out of Debt


Here are a few resources that have helped me with each of these.


Get Healthy! (I combined resolution 1 and 2 because the goal is to get healthy.)
1.  If you know me you know that I am a huge fan of P90X.  There are 12 workout DVDs, a fitness plan, and nutrition program.  It is difficult and you might have to start out doing every other workout but if you follow the program I guarantee you will see results.

2.  The Belly Off Program from Men's Health.  I did this 8 week program a couple of years ago and lost 20 pounds, while gaining strength.  The nutrition plan has delicious food and  A LOT of it!   Women's Health has similar plans for healthy eating and exercise. 

I have never experienced an addiction to smoking or drinking alcohol.  I do know that in order to break an addiction you must seek help from God and someone stronger than you in that area because if you could quit on your own you would have done it already.  Lay down your pride and get some help.


Enjoy Life!
 1.  The book A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Donald Miller is about enjoying life and living a better story.  Check it out from your local library.

2.  The book Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren is a fantastic book to begin your year.  I have read it four times and refer to it throughout the year.  It is a great way to help you find or reaffirm your purpose for your life.

3.  The book Chazown by Craig Groeschel is also a great book for beginning a new year or new season of your life.  Chazown is Hebrew for Vision and it provides a step by step process for developing a vision or plan for your life. 

These 3 books are all about enjoying your life, spending time with family, and helping people.  3 birds with one stone!

Learn Something New!
We live in the information age so there is no excuse for you to not learn something new everyday.  I use Twitter, Podcasts on iTunes, blogs, and the library and it is all FREE!  If you want to learn something new simply type it into Google and you're on your way.

Be Debt Free!
1.  Financial Peace University is a program by Dave Ramsey that will teach you ways to get out of debt, save money, and build wealth.  You can also read his book called Total Money Makeover which is a broad overview of FPU.

2.  Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki is a book that will change your perspective on money.  It is not for everybody but I really enjoyed it and it has some great financial principles.

3.  The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach is another great book to help you with your finances.  It is not a get rich quick book but rather shows you how to build wealth over your lifetime.  It provides many resources within the pages. 

Again, these are all resources that have personally worked for me.  I wouldn't have shared them if they didn't help me experience success in these areas.  If one of them works for you please share it with someone else.  Please remember that in order to keep your resolutions and reach your goals it is your responsibility to be disciplined enough to take them seriously. 


What books, programs, or resources have helped you reach your goals?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Personification At It's Finest


If this isn't funny I don't know what is.

My Favorite FREE Things

Here is a list of my favorite FREE things of 2010.  These 6 things have changed my life by making it easier, better, fuller, and more enjoyable.  The great thing is, if you are reading this then you have access to all of these things as well!  The items are in random order.


1.  The Library - I recently rediscovered the library and have literally saved hundreds of dollars.  Obviously you are aware that you can check out books for free and even audio books on request.  Books are $15-$30 these days and that adds up.  However, did you know that you can check out most major CD's and Movies as well?  They may not have them in stock but you can request them and they will order them for you.  It's unbelievable!  On top of that,  most major library systems are getting electronic copies of books for the iPad and other e-readers so you can temporarily download books!  Head to your local library and rediscover it's greatness!

2.  A Million Miles In A Thousand Years - This is my favorite book of 2010 and borderline my favorite book of all time.  Author Donald Miller writes about how to live a better story.  It is an easy read but very thought provoking and challenging.  I literally couldn't put it down and read it in 2 settings.  Check it out for FREE @ your local library or if you have to buy it you can get it for less than 20 bones online or at your local bookstore.  You can learn more about the book and the author at donmilleris.com.


3.  Twitter - There is so much more to Twitter than telling people your every move.  Twitter guru @ScottWilliams describes Twitter as a river of constantly flowing information.  This year I read more via Twitter than I read books or magazines combined.  Twitter also allows me to learn directly from high profile leaders that I wouldn't normally come into contact with on a regular basis.  Words of wisdom from leaders such as Seth Godin, Rick Warren, Rev Run, Kevin East, Andy Stanley, David Busic, Craig Groeschel, Scott Williams, etc... are at my fingertips.  You can also stay current with friends, celebrities, professional athletes, and your favorite organizations.  Twitter also keeps me up to date on national and local news, sports scores, and the latest coupons.  Open a free account online at twitter.com.

4.  Air-1 Radio - I found out about Air-1 about 4 years ago and I haven't listened to another radio station since.  (Unless I'm in the Dallas area and I listen to Mix 102.9 to hear the velvet voice of my good friend Josh Hart.)  All the music they play is uplifting, encouraging, and positive.  My day is better when I listen to Air-1.  In OKC it's 90.9 FM but you can check the station in your area or listen online at Air1.com.  



5.  Groupon - Okay this really hasn't changed my life that much but I had to include it because the idea is so genius.  Groupon provides consumers half-price coupons to restaurants, spas, stores, and other services while providing customers and major advertisement to vendors.  Talk about a win-win situation!  This is great for everyone involved.  I personally like it because it allows me to take my wife on dates to upscale restaurants that we would never go to if it weren't for the half price Groupons.  For more information check out groupon.com.


6.  Google - This seems obvious because Google has changed the life of everyone with a computer.  However, did you know that Google is SO MUCH MORE than a search engine?  Google Earth is mind blowing!  Their e-mail service is the best in the business.  You can create Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents and have access to them online with Google Docs.  You can create online invitations, sign-ups, surveys, and teachers can even create online tests for free with Google FormsThis blog is even powered by Google!  These are just the few features that I have used.  Check out all that Google has to offer here.


What FREE  things have changed your life this year?

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Favorite Things

One day I will be a billionaire and be able to give away my favorite things to my friends and random people like Oprah does.  Until then, I'm going to simply make a list of my favorite things for you to put on your Christmas list so that someone else can buy it for you.

These 5 things have changed my life by making it easier, better, fuller, and more enjoyable.  The items are in random order.


1.  Sleep Number Bed - This is the ingenious idea where you can control how soft or firm your side of the bed is.  This is perfect for Katy and I because I like a hard mattress and she likes it super soft.  Soft or firm, it is by far the most comfortable bed and the bad thing is we have trouble getting out of it in the mornings!

2.  You're Beautiful Bracelet- My wife Katy has a passion for helping girls realize their true beauty.  We live in a world where the media defines beauty by looks and external appearance.  My wife and her assistants want girls to believe that they are beautiful because they are God's beautiful creation.  One way to spread this belief is by making bracelets that simply say YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL with the scripture Psalms 45:11 "The King is enthralled by your Beauty."  This bracelet serves as a daily reminder to girls of all ages that their true beauty is found in Christ and not in looks, style, weight, boys, their past or any other lies. Although I do not wear one myself, I love seeing people wear them and love observing the conversations that arise because of them.  

If you would like to purchase a You're Beautiful bracelet for yourself or a special girl in your life they are $5 and all of the proceeds go to support organizations that support true beauty.  I'm giving away 5 of them here on my blog.  Simply leave a comment below and you will be entered into a random drawing.  The drawing will be Sunday, December 26 @ 10pm.  If you're a winner I will contact you to get your information and you should have your bracelet before 2011. 

3.  iPhone - I hate to be that guy but I can honestly say my life is different because of the iPhone.  It is an iPod, phone, e-mail, GPS, gaming device, Facebook, Twitter, planner, Bible, notepad, newspaper, alarm, TV, and so much more all on one sleek piece of equipment.  Although I prefer the iPhone, I'm sure most smart phones do the same these days.

4.  Mission Trip - My wife and I spent 10 life changing days in Costa Rica this summer with Pine Cove's ONE:8 Trips.  We learned what it was like to be immersed into a completely different culture where we could not rely on our own strength.  It is something that totally changed our perspectives and we are forever different because of this experiences.  A mission trip doesn't have to be in a different country.  Spend some time out of your comfort zone and in another culture or sub-culture in your own city or state.  Volunteering at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or any other place where there are people in need is equally as challenging and rewarding.

Katy and I at a volcano in Costa Rica.

5. Visiting History - I realize that not everyone likes history as much as I do (former social studies teacher).  But there is something about being able to see the places that we read about and be in the setting of which epic stories took place.  I love the Star Spangled Banner but now even more so after visiting Fort McHenry in Baltimore where the famous battle took place that caused the song to be written.  I recommend Washington D.C. because basically all of the museums and monuments are free to explore.  Any place on the East Coast should be filled with history but you could visit a place in your city or state with some historical significance. 

Flag @ Fort McHenry in Baltimore
Again, I wish I could afford to buy all of you gifts or send you on trips so that your life could also be changed for the better.  Be on the lookout for my future post which is My Favorite Things: Free Edition.

Remember to comment below if you're interested in winning a YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL bracelet.


What are some of you're favorite things?

Monday, December 13, 2010

What Are You Made Of?

Let's see what you're made of.

The only time this phrase is used is when someone is about to experience some adversity.  A time when you are going to experience so much pressure, so much pain, so much stress, so many tough decisions, so much frustration, so much sadness, or so many obstacles that it is going to peel back everything except the basic foundation of which you are made.

To see what an athlete is made of, see how they perform under pressure with the game on the line.
To see what a politician is made of, watch how they lead a country at war and in a recession.
To see what a marriage is made of, watch how they treat each other when money is tight & kids are ill.
To see what a teacher is made of, see how they teach that rough bunch of kids at the end of the day.
To see what a ________ is made of, watch how they react when ________________.

The end of the year holiday season is usually a time when stress is high, tempers are short, and it is easy to see what people are made of.  Take some time to reflect and see what you are made of.  If you are rarely stressed, frustrated, sad, negative, or buckle under pressure then chances are you simply need to keep on doing what you're doing.  If not, then it's time to go back to the basics and begin to rebuild your basic foundation.  Here are a few ways to do that.

Form Good Habits - A habit is something you can do without thinking.  Perhaps you can develop habits of getting more sleep, making your lunch, praying, exercising, and spending time with family.  If these habits are developed in good times, they will continue in tough times.

Repetition - In order for a habit to stick you must repeat it over and over until you are able to do it without thinking.  Then when tough times hit, you will subconsciously continue with the good habits without even thinking about it.


Be Disciplined - No one is going to make you do this.  No one is going to build a foundation for you.  If you want to strengthen what you are made of it starts and ends with you.  


Be Accountable - Although it is your decision to make and your foundation to build, it sure is easier if someone is doing it with you.  Challenge a friend or ask a family member for help redeveloping your physical, spiritual, or emotional core.  

Let's see what you're made of! 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I Am Thankful

I remember learning in philosophy something about never knowing pleasure without pain.  I'll not take time to explain in detail but here are a few examples: 

We can only know beautiful weather if we have experienced extreme cold or extreme heat.
We can only know true love if we have been truly heartbroken. 
We can only know if something tastes good if we have had something that tastes bad.

You can decide what you want to believe about this but I do believe this philosophy relates to being thankful and experiencing true thanksgiving.  I believe the more hurt we have experienced the more thankful we can be. 

I am thankful for my wonderful wife because I have been heartbroken.
I am thankful for my health because I have been sick.
I am thankful for a job that I love because I have had many that I did not.

We can also better experience thanksgiving when we hurt for other people.

I am thankful for my memory after spending time with my grandpa who has Alzheimer's.
I am thankful for my parents after spending time with my students that only have one.
I am thankful for my food after eating beans and rice every meal in Costa Rica.
I am thankful for my job after spending time with those that are unemployed or have temp jobs.
I am thankful for my friends after spending time with those that are lonely.

It is the things that bring us hurt that cause us to be the most thankful.

What circumstances have caused you to be thankful?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Copy Cat

Have you ever noticed that when you greet someone they usually say the same thing back to you?  If you haven't you should test it out ASAP. 

Let me give you an example.  If you walk up to someone and say "Good Morning", they will most likely respond with the same "Good Morning".  This seems logical but it gets better.

It doesn't matter what you say as long as it is a common greeting.  You could say hey, hi, hello, howdy, what's up, what's going on, or even buenos dias and the person will respond with the same greeting a vast majority of the time. 

Think of how you can use this to your advantage. 

If you want someone to greet you positively, all you have to do is first approach others with a positive greeting, attitude, and smile.  I think it has something to do with that treat others the way you want to be treated and love your neighbor as yourself kinda thing.

Try it out and see if it works.  It isn't fail-proof but it does work more often than not.  Worst case scenario is you positively greeted some people and were a bright spot in their day. 

If you do it everyday, you can slowly begin to change the attitude of a person, classroom, school, office, business, church, organization, neighborhood, world...

Again, don't take my word for it.  Try it out for yourself and see if it works.  I think you'll like the results.  Guaranteed or your money back.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hope For The Future

Last week a teacher at my school received a phone call at work that someone in her family passed away.  This was unexpected and as you can imagine she cried in front of the class.

Later that day, a few 6th grade girls came up to me and said they wanted to do something special for their teacher.  I thought this was a sweet gesture coming from 6th graders and assumed they wanted to make a big card or something.  I asked them what they had in mind.  Their response blew me away.

Their idea was to put on a "Walk" in order to support their teacher's family.  After working through some details they came up with "Walk In Your Socks", a day in which students can support their teacher by walking in their socks.  At first, this was only to show support (think wearing ribbons) but they then decided to turn it into a fundraiser by asking students to donate $1 to be able to not wear shoes one day at school.

The next thing you know, this idea from a few 6th grade minds raised nearly $150 and more importantly, showed love and support for someone in need!

I contacted the Public Relations Director from my district to see if this is a story that the local news might be interested in.  The news was interested and had planned on coming out but canceled at the last minute to cover a negative story in the district that popped up. 

Although you weren't able to see it on the news, I want you to know that there is hope for the future.  I have no doubt that stories like this are everywhere.  Although the media usually focuses on the negative aspects of today's youth, we are educating the next Dr. King, Mandela, and Mother Teresa.  Their hearts are just as big if not bigger than previous generations and they are as creative as they are courageous.  If we can figure out how to get them to channel their hearts, creativity, and courage the sky truly is the limit for this generation.

What evidence of Hope do you see for the future?  How can you tell people since the media doesn't?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fruits of Labor

Lately my wife Katy and I have been "fixing up" a house.  New paint, carpet, tile, light fixtures, deep cleaning, etc...  It has been so rewarding to watch our progress.  We remember what it looked like and smelled like in the beginning and have worked hard to develop it into the end product that we pictured in our minds.

This isn't something we get to do very often.  Not fixing up a house but getting to see a whole project come together.  As educators we rarely get to see the end product.  My wife works with college students and I with middle schoolers and although they are not "fixer uppers" (I guess some of them are), they are still developing as young men and women.  Yes we remember what they looked like (and smelled like) when they came to us and yes we are able to see some progress. Unfortunately, we rarely get to see the final product as the students are still developing as they move on to the next stage in their lives.

I can speak from experience and say that the feeling you get when you create something from start to finish is rewarding, whether it be fixing up a house, knitting a scarf, making a video, writing a book, making a craft, etc...  However, it is only a fraction as rewarding as getting the opportunity to see a successful student that you have poured your life into. 

Being educators (or parents, pastors, managers, supervisors, mentors, or any leader really), we rarely get to see the fruits of our labor.  But when we do, it sure makes all the time, effort, and energy worthwhile and fuels us to continue to work with the students we have, while we have them.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Help Yourself

I don't get to travel as much as I would like, but I have been on airplanes enough to have their spiel memorized.  You know the seat belt, emergency exits, oxygen mask, no smoking, stay seated, seat-back and tray table speech.

I always found it interesting when the flight attendants tell you to secure your oxygen mask on yourself before attempting to help anyone else.

I have come to realize how important this way of thinking actually is.  It is so important to take care of myself so that I can take care of others.  Sure, I may save someone's life by helping them with their oxygen but if I don't put mine on first, it may be the last person I am able to help.

In the world of go, go, go that we live in it is always difficult to find time for you.  I'm not suggesting that we overindulge in self pampering or retail therapy.  I am saying that it is important to set aside time on a regular basis to make sure you are spiritually, physically, and mentally healthy.

Somewhere in your busy schedule is 30 minutes for you to exercise.  Maybe not every day but probably at least 3 days a week.   Ask a friend to join you and hold you accountable so both can stay physically healthy.

You can also find an hour on the weekend to attend church or participate in a Bible study.  With church online (www.lifechurch.tv) you can have a church experience any day of the week.

In order to stay mentally healthy your brain must be challenged.  This can be done by reading books, blogs, magazines, educational television, or participating in healthy conversations.  This can be as little as 15 minutes a day.

The reality is this.  You will not be able to take care of others if you do not take the time to take care of yourself.  Don't wait for an emergency to decide to start.



How do you take care of yourself?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Be You

This summer I accepted the position of Assistant Principal at a new school.  Knowing that I was going to now be leading new people, in a new school, with new students, new culture, new rules, new everything; I wanted to make sure that I did everything right and got off to a good start.  So I asked for advice from a friend of mine that is experienced in making first impressions.  It went something like this: 

Me:  I know you have had the opportunity of going to churches and establishing yourself as a leader in a new culture with new people.  What advice can you give me as I attempt to make a good first impression with new people in a new culture?

Pastor Busic:  Just be YOU.  YOU are the person they hired because they thought YOU were the best man for the job.  If they would have wanted someone else they would have hired someone else but they chose YOU.  Just be YOU and YOU will do great!

Not what I expected to hear.  I was wanting him to give me a special formula for success but it was such good advice. 

Too often we try so hard to be like someone else to our friends, family, spouses, employers, etc... but in all reality if they wanted someone else they would not have chosen us.  Yes, we still strive for excellence in all that we do, but we do so in order to become stronger in who we are, not in who someone else is.

Scott Williams says it like this:  Do You!  It's a statement not a question.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Writers Block

Anyone have a cure for writers block?

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Who, What, When, Why, & How of Blogging

I never thought I would be a blogger.  In fact, thought it was pointless and secretly made fun of blogging.  The next thing I know, I have been blogging for 6 months and this is my 70th blog post!  Here is the Who, What, Where, When, & Why of blogging.

WHY blog?  There are countless reasons to blog.  Here is why I do it.  There are lessons that I have learned that have changed me for the better.  By blogging, I can share these lessons with others so that they may be changed for the better as well.  Share the things that make your life better.

WHAT to write about?  Blog about what you know.  Everybody has something they know a lot about and enjoy talking about.  Whatever that is for you, why not take the conversation online?  You don't have to be an expert, just write what you know.  A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.  Start singing! 

WHO reads blogs?  Blogs are the new magazines.  Eventually you are going to attract some followers.  Maybe it's friends and family but maybe it spreads to people you've never met.  These people are reading because they not only like what you have to say but enjoy the topic.  I have learned this the hard way by blogging about some random stuff and losing people's interest.  Just stick to what you know.

WHEN to blog?  Often.  If you want people to read your blog then it is helpful to blog regularly.  When I first started, I blogged about every other day.  Due to some writers block and a busy schedule I have been blogging about once a week.  Because of this, my blog traffic has been cut in half.  Learn from my mistakes and blog consistently. 
Tip - Just Write.  There are times when I feel like writing and sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I feel good about a post and sometimes I don't.  The interesting thing is this:  Some of the posts that I feel good about get zero response while the ones I feel bad about get a lot of comments.  The point of this is that you never know who might need to hear what you have to say.  So stop trying to make it perfect and just write!
HOW to advertise?  Share it on Facebook and Twitter.  Over 80% of the people that read my blog do so via Facebook and 10% via Twitter.  Without sharing my blog on Facebook and Twitter I would lose 90% of my readers. Enough said.  However, even if nobody reads your blog, you will be surprised at the benefits you will personally receive by going through the process.


Do you blog?  Why or why not?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Life Lessons from a Golf Tournament

I had the privilege of playing in a golf tournament recently.  It was my first time to play on a private course (Quail Creek in OKC)  and it was legit.  They "checked" our bags as we walked in and they were waiting for us when we picked up our cart.  Unlimited, pearl white practice balls at the driving range.  The greens were pristine, fairways were like carpet, and the rough...well...it wasn't.

Here are a few things I learned from playing in this golf tournament.  

1.  Don't play it safe.  I was nervous.  I was the least experienced member of our team and I didn't want to blow it.  Because of this I tried to play it safe and not embarrass myself by messing up.  Oddly enough, this caused me to mess up even more because I wasn't comfortable and confident.  Although easier said than done, just be you in new situations. 

2.  Don't be afraid to take a mulligan.  Mulligan is a golf term for "do over".  In a golf tournament you usually have to pay for them and it simply gives you the opportunity to correct a mistake.  Everyone is going to mess up in life and there is nothing wrong with taking a mulligan every once in a while.  Just acknowledge that you can do better and prove it. 

3.  Better competition makes you better.  I was playing with people that were better than me so I was able to get some tips and tricks from better golfers.  Just watching them and hearing them talk made me better.  Surround yourself with people that you can learn from.  Find a mentor, role model, or anyone you can look up to in your profession, as a parent, as a spouse, as a spiritual leader, etc.  Just being with them will make you better. 


4.  Luxury breeds envy.  As I was playing on a private course surrounded beautiful homes with perfectly landscaped backyards and luxury vehicles in the parking lot, I must say I got a little envious.  I started to wish I could live this luxurious lifestyle.  The good thing about this is that it can give you the desire to work harder and put yourself in a position to live this lifestyle of luxury.  Unfortunately, it can also cause you to get your priorities out of whack and put "things" over relationships. 


5.  Everyone contributes.  The tournament was a "scramble" which means that we used the best hit ball on every shot.  Even as the weakest golfer on our team, there were times when I had the best shot.  Just because you are not the best at what you're doing, doesn't mean you can't contribute.  Simply do your best and your time will come.
 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Characteristic of Great Teachers & Learners

HOW TO BE A GREAT TEACHER:

Great teachers have this scientific, yet artistic ability to make all material and information relevant to students.  Great history teachers scientifically know that students are more likely to remember information when it is built onto or related to something they already know.  So he or she may artistically paint a mental picture of Boston Celtic Kevin Garnet participating in the Boston Tea Party.  In the same way, Great English teachers use the poetry of the Black Eyed Peas to get students interested before introducing them to Shakespeare. The examples are endless.

HOW TO BE A GREAT LEARNER:

Unfortunately, not everyone is a great teacher and even great teachers have their off days.  Not to mention it would be foolish to think that any teacher, preacher, or leader can make everything relevant to every single person, every time.   Therefore it is your responsibility to take the information and relate it to yourself.  This should be easy since you know you better than anyone!

Great learners make new information relevant on their own.  A great learner will take any new information and figure out how it applies to them or at least how they can remember it if necessary.  A parent that is a great learner can take a business model and apply it to his/her life and use it to improve their family model.  A salesman that is a great learner can take a sermon about being fishers of men and apply it to his/her business and improve sales.  Any person that is a great learner can take nearly anything and find a way to learn something from it.

Lucky for everyone, this is not a gift that you either have or don't have.  It is a skill that can be learned with a little extra effort on your part. The key is having this attitude of "what can I learn from this and how can I apply it to my life" while you're listening or reading.

Let's start now.  What did you learn from this post? How can you apply it to your life?

Monday, September 27, 2010

No Matter What

 There is a song on the radio entitled "No Matter What" by Kerrie Roberts (YouTube it).  This is a song based on the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Bible.  Basically, these guys were were being forced to bow down and worship the King.  When they refused, the King told them they would be burned alive in a fiery furnace.  This is where it gets good. 
"They replied, if we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know that we will not bow to you."  -Daniel 3:17-18  (read all of Daniel 3 for the full story)
WOW!  Do you have that much faith?  Most people these days are afraid to commit to anything without a safety net, let alone risking their life for their beliefs.  I mean how many times in life have you been able to say that about God?  I have faith that _______ will happen, but even if it doesn't, I will continue to serve Him and believe.

How many times in life have you been able to say this about your family?  I have faith that my parent/child/sibling/spouse will succeed and make wise decisions, but even if they don't, I will continue to love, support, and encourage them.
It's the "no matter what" and the "but even if He doesn't" moments in life that you will remember. 


Do you rely on faith or your own reasoning?  How much faith do you have?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Passion

One of the things that successful people have in common is that they are passionate about what they do.  The best parents, teachers, Realtors, leaders, pastors, artists, athletes, accountants, doctors, lawyers, Wal-Mart greeters, cab drivers, soldiers, police officers, firemen, etc... have a burning passion.

It is important to note that passion is only an ingredient and alone does not equal success.  Political candidate and You-Tube sensation Phil Davidson is overflowing with passion.  (Phil Davidson video)  I do not know him but could guess that he is good at what he does.  Unfortunately, he may not be elected and has been made fun of because his passion is lacking a few key components. 

Your passion should be attractive.  Others should be attracted to you because you are passionate.  Your passion should not make people laugh at you or turn people off.  People should be able to respect you for giving your life to your passion.  Don't get me wrong, people don't have to join you in your passion but desire to develop their own.

Your passion should be focused.  There is no such thing as scattered passion.  It is very difficult to be passionate about multiple things.  Sure you can like a lot of things but you can really only dedicate your life to one or two at a time.  Think of passion as a laser rather than a light bulb. Like the light atop the Luxor Hotel in Vegas.

Your passion should be communicable.  You should be able to tell people what your passion is in a minute or less.  Sure you could bore people to death by talking about it forever, but you want to leave people curious and asking questions rather than waiting for you to be quiet.  Focus on the What, Why, and How.

These are just a few of the many ingredients but they will get you started. 

What are you passionate about? Is it attractive, focused, and communicable?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dear Tiger Woods,

Dear Tiger Woods,

I would like to apologize to you on behalf of the entire world.  I know you are going through quite possibly the toughest time in your life and career right now and most people are somehow glad.  As if it has ever been okay to kick someone while they are down and outwardly hope they don't get back up. 

Just as you have mentioned in your public apology, you were selfish, you did make some mistakes, and it is completely your fault.  I'm sorry that we treated you as if you were the only one that is selfish and makes mistakes.  Fortunately for most of us, our mistakes aren't the talk of every media outlet in the world.  I hope that you are learning from your mistakes and I hope that others can learn from them as well.

It seems as though it has become acceptable to laugh at people that are deeply struggling and be more excited when people fail than when they succeed.  Many people even viciously comment on how you are getting what you deserve.  Yet if people always got what they deserved, we would all live in a dark, ungracious, unforgiving hell. 

As you are seeking forgiveness, may you also find it in your heart to forgive those of us who have judged you and wished ill will upon you.  I seriously hope and pray that you are able to slowly gain your life and career back as I know you are broken. 


Grace &Peace,

Brett Bradley

"If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone." - John 8:7

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Life Lessons From P90X

I'm a big fan of P90X.  The program works for 2 main reasons, which I think can be applied to other areas of our lives.

1.  Consistency The 90 represents days.  If you consistently exercise for 90 days in a row you are bound to see some results.

This can be applied in all areas of life.  If you want to increase your knowledge of something, consistently study it for 90 days.  If you want to strengthen your spiritual life, pray consistently for 90 days.  If you want to improve your relationship with someone, serve and pursue them for 90 days.  Consistently doing anything on a daily basis will create positive habits to get the results you desire.

2.  Variety -   The P90X program works because it is designed around muscle confusion.  Basically, it works out the same muscle in different ways.  So instead of simply doing bench press to build your chest you would do a variety of exercises including multiple types of push-ups, dumb-bell presses, yoga holds, Kenpo karate moves, and other chest exercises that you've never heard of before.

If we keep doing the same stuff we will keep getting the same results.  When you read, make it a point to read a variety of books, blogs, and magazines.  Switching between fiction, christian, business, occupational, leadership, health, and other topics keeps your mind sharp as you think in different ways.  When you pray, do so in a variety of ways including silently, aloud, written, alone, with someone, while driving, showering, running, etc...  When spending time with someone, grab dinner, an early breakfast, go on a walk, exercise, attend a concert or museum, create something, go on a road trip, or just be adventurous.  You are still spending time with the same person, but by doing so in a variety of ways you are strengthening the relationship.

Learn from the success of P90X.  What do you need to be more consistent with?  How can you add variety to areas of your life?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mental Exercise

This statement could not be more true.

Walking, running, lifting weights, hiking, biking, swimming, P90X, etc... are all ways to improve your physical health.  For those that are in great physical shape, these exercises are done on a regular basis to keep the body fresh.  If you want muscle strength it is important to challenge your body as muscles do not grow unless they are pushed to their limits.

Reading, writing, blogging, listening, problem solving, creating, analyzing, etc... are all ways to improve your intellectual health.  For those that are in great intellectual shape, these exercises are done on a regular basis to keep the mind fresh.  If you want brain strength it is important to challenge your mind as your mind does not grow unless it is pushed to the limit.  

Are you more physically fit or intellectually fit?  How can you improve on one and still maintain strength in the other?


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Use It Or Lose It!

If you're like me (and I know I am) you learn something new everyday.  Part of that is because I truly am addicted to learning so I seek out ways to learn new things as much as possible.  The other part has to do with being human and facing personal, professional, social, and spiritual challenges on a regular basis.

The problem is putting what I learn into practice.  I may hear something profound in a sermon, at a conference, or from a mentor or friend and want to come back and put that into practice...but never do.  I might read something in a book, blog, or on twitter that totally changes my perspective...for a few minutes.  Then I start doing something else, get back into my routine, and forget all about it. 

Here are a few things that have helped me remember what I learn.

1.  Apply it to you.  Great teachers make information relevant to students.  Great students make information relevant on their own.  Think about how this new information connects to what you already know.

2.  Summarize it.  It's hard to remember everything. Constantly be looking or listening for the main idea, the one thing you can take away from any book, conference, lesson, sermon, etc...

3.  Use it or lose it!  If you don't use what you have learned within 48 hours, chances are you will lose it.  

4.  Tell someone.  When you tell someone what you learned it does a few things.  It helps you remember because you have to put it in your own words.  It helps you decide if you agree with it enough to put your name on the idea.  It also makes you think more about it if someone begins to ask questions.  Many people believe you truly haven't mastered a subject or skill until you have taught it.

You learn something new everyday.  Do something with it!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Business vs Busyness

We live in a culture where it is cool to be busy.  Just ask someone how things are going and they will tell you how busy they are.  Some people choose to fill their lives with busyness to make money.  Others do it to keep their minds off of what's bothering them.  Still others stay busy because they can't say no.  While others stay busy because they like what they are doing.  Some are busy because they simply have too many responsibilities.  Whatever the reason, it's cool to be busy.

The problem with busyness is that it can keep you from taking care of business.  Your schedule may be so full with pressing issues that you don't have time to plan for the future.

Stephen Covey calls this an Urgency Addiction. 
In his book First Things First, Covey says that everything falls into one of 4 categories or quadrants.
1.  Urgent & Important
2.  Not Urgent & Important
3.  Urgent & Not Important
4.  Not Urgent & Not Important

In what 2 categories do you spend most of your time?  I must confess that I spend most of my time in quadrants 1 and 3 doing Urgent things. 

Covey suggests that the most successful people spend most of their time in Quadrant 2 planning, preventing, preparing, and developing relationships.  Urgent things still come up but because these people are prepared it never seems overwhelming.   

If we know the things in quadrant 3 and 4 are not important then why do we even do them?  Why not focus our attention on the important stuff?  (Check out First Things First from your local library to see what Covey says.)

If we know that the most successful people spend most of their time in Quadrant 2 then why don't we do more planning, preparing, preventing, and developing relationships?  Let me guess...Because you're too busy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Most Complex Profession

I heard this story today at a conference and I had to share.

A well known educator was speaking at a conference.  Her topic of discussion was how teaching is the most complex profession.  She provided personal experiences, cited research, and told many stories to support the fact that teachers have the most complex profession.

When she finished, a well dressed man approached her.  The man provided positive feedback to her presentation but disagreed with one thing.  The conversation went something like this:

Man:  I enjoyed your presentation but I believe I have the most complex profession.
Teacher:  Really?  What do you do?
Man:  I am a brain surgeon.
Teacher:  Wow.  That is complex.  Okay.  Let me ask you a few questions.  When you are performing a surgery, how many people do you work on at a time?
Man:  Well just one.
Teacher:  Teachers work on 20 - 35 brains at a time. 
Teacher:  I'm sure there are other reasons though.  Let me ask you this.  What state of mind are your "subjects" in when you are performing brain surgery on them?
Man:  Well....they are under heavy anesthesia so they are unconscious.
Teacher:  I can guarantee you that some teachers wish those 20-35 students were under heavy anesthesia while working on their brains.
Teacher:  Let me ask you one more question.  How many people do you have helping you perform this brain surgery?  
Man:  I have 11 people on my surgical team.
Teacher:  You see sir.  While you are working on one brain of an unconscious person with the help of 11 people, Teachers are working on approximately 30 brains of very conscious students with usually no help at all.  
Man:  You're right.  Teaching is the most complex profession.

I don't think this story takes away from any other profession.  However, I do think it shows the complexity of teaching.  Many people think they know what its like to teach because they went to school for 12-16 years.  Just because you had brain surgery doesn't mean you know what its like to be a brain surgeon.

Teachers have slowly lost respect over the years.  Somewhere along the way we started believing the word of the elementary student over the word of a professional.  If we want better public schools for our kids then we have to develop and instill that level of respect for teachers, schools, and education in general.  It has to start somewhere.  It might as well be with you.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Baseball & Steroids :(

I am a pretty big baseball fan and have been all my life.  I played organized baseball for about 15 years and it helped pay my way through college.  But to be quite honest, all of this steroid stuff is starting to turn me off.

I'm not even talking about the fact that a lot of players cheated because they took steroids.  Technically, there was not a rule against it so it wasn't actually cheating.  But now that there is a rule against performance enhancing drugs, they want to go back and see who was breaking the rules that didn't exist at the time.  This was a bad idea.  They should have just wiped the slate clean and started over.

To make matters worse, MLB commissioner Bud Selig didn't have the guts to enforce the new laws himself, so he got the U.S. Government involved.  This is wrong on so many levels but I'll list two.
1)  The U.S. Government should never waste time involving itself making decisions about professional sports. 
2)  The U.S. Government is dealing with a war, bad economy, social injustice, oil spills, and many other serious issues that don't involve grown men playing a game for entertainment.

There are issues in other sports all of the time.  Drugs, fights, scandals, arrests, dog fighting, etc...  What do those sports do with athletes that break laws?  They suspend them and fine them.  What does baseball do?  Calls the U.S. Government for backup.

I am reminded of this as Roger Clemens will so be on trial for lying to Congress about using steroids.  Now I can't say if he did or not.  All I know is Clemens never should have had to talk to Congress!!  Seriously people!!  It's baseball!!  Don't let him in the Hall of Fame.  Put a star by his name.  Ban him from baseball.  Don't get Congress involved!

I'm ranting.  I'll stop now.  I just hate it when the sport that I love is getting a bad name all because of bad leadership.  Time to retire Bud Selig.   

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Butterflies In My Stomach

Tonight is like Christmas Eve for me because tomorrow is the first day of school.  Students are deciding what to wear, wondering who is in their class, and anxious to see what their teacher is like.  Teachers are also deciding what to wear and wondering what their classes will be like.

It will be my first day as an Administrator and I am definitely excited.  I feel like I have butterflies in my stomach.  The only thing I am nervous about is getting to know about 800 new students.  I am as prepared as I can be for everything else.

To be honest, I hope I never lose these first day of school jitters.  After playing baseball all the way through college, I never lost the butterflies when going up to bat.  Its not that I was nervous every pitch, but so excited for the challenge.  I am definitely excited for the challenge of administration and I'm sure those butterflies will show up quite frequently throughout the year.  I believe it is a reminder that I am still up for the challenge.

What gives you the feeling of butterflies in your stomach?  If your answer is nothing, I think its time for a new challenge!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's Never Too Early

Advice is great.  It helps people learn from the successes and failures of others.  It is great to learn from people that have been in your situation or have experienced what you are about to experience. 
The only problem with advice is that people usually wait too long to ask for it.  People are either in denial or they are so sure that they are the only ones in history that are facing their current issue that they are embarrassed to ask.

If you want to stay on top, if you want to be the best spouse, employee, employer, parent, friend, teacher, coach, player, anything... then you must learn to ask for advice before you need it.  It is better to ask how to have a successful marriage before having to ask how to salvage one.  It is better to ask how to stay healthy as you age rather than how to lose 100 pounds.  It is better to ask how you can better do your job rather than asking what you could have done better when you lose it.  It is better to ask how to stay out of debt than to ask how to get out of it.  My former boss and current mentor called this getting a checkup rather than an autopsy.  Perfect example!

Please understand that it is never to late to ask for help.  But it is also never too early to ask for advice.  Keep learning, growing, seeking, asking, searching, and striving.  

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Myth of Multitasking

It is cool to be a multitasker these days.  Many people have so many things to do that they feel like they need to do them all at the same time in order to finish.  Some really have too much to do while others just like to feel important.

The reality is multitasking is impossible.  The human brain cannot effectively do 2 or more tasks at the same time.   Those that are good multitaskers are actually good switchers, meaning the ability to quickly switch from one task to another.

For example, my Dad pretends like he can read the paper, watch tv, and have a conversation at the same time.  Now although it may seem like he is doing all of those at once, he is actually switching from task to task. (Which he does quite well.)

You may be someone that can talk on the phone, check your e-mail, cook dinner, and watch your kids all at the same time.  Although you may have 4 or 5 "tasks" going on, you are only doing one of them at a time.  You stop talking on the phone while you read your e-mail.  You stop watching your kids while you are browning the meat.  You let the water boil over while you are checking Facebook. 

Multitasking or "switching" is an important skill to learn as long as you remember 2 things.
1. Be Respectful - When people are involved it is important to make them feel important.  Stop everything and listen to what they have to say.  If you only have 3 minutes then tell them you only have 3 minutes.
2. Focus First - First, take time to focus on each task and complete it so you can do it to the best of your ability.  You'll be impressed with yourself when you knock out your to-do list.  Multitask the rest of your list if necessary.

(Sidenote:  Multitasking is only good when one of the tasks is mindless or takes a while to complete.  My wife reads while blow-drying her hair.  My friend listens to audiobooks while on his commute.  I check e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter while in the bathroom....oh don't even act like you don't do the same!)

Monday, August 9, 2010

80/20 Service

There are a lot of good hearted people in the world today.  As a matter of fact, I would say that over 90% of humans would help someone if they got the chance.

Unfortunately, there is an 80/20 rule when it comes to serving.  This rule says that 80% of the work will get done by 20% of the people.  This is true for churches, schools, businesses, government, and serving in general.  Well if over 90% are willing to serve but only 20% are actually serving, what is the problem?

The problem isn't THAT people don't want to serve but rather the problem is HOW people want to serve.  There are a lot of people that want to serve, IF they can do it their way.  Everyone has gifts and they want to use them.  However, if my gift is building and creating and you need me to serve in the nursery then I won't do it.

The point is this.  Everyone has gifts and talents that they need to use.  BUT sometimes it is best to serve where you're needed rather than where you want to be.  Know the goal, focus on the end result, and do your part to help the team.  Not every service and skill is needed all of the time.  So help out where you can to keep the 20% from burning out.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Only Thing Harder Than Forgiveness....

The only thing harder than forgiveness is the alternative. 

Read that again.  Think about how true that is.

Forgiving someone can be one of the hardest things you will ever have to do.  The only thing harder than forgiveness is living your life without a friend, parent, sibling, or child that you choose not to forgive.  The only thing harder than forgiveness is carrying hatred, darkness, blame, and painful memories with you everyday of your life. 

"But you don't understand what they did!"  "But you don't understand what I they put me through!"   That is very true.  Unfortunately until you forgive, you are letting them put you through it everyday.  Until you forgive, you are choosing to carry hatred, darkness, blame, and painful memories with you everywhere you go.  Until you forgive, that relationship that you are longing for will never heal.


"How can I forgive when it hurts so much?"
How can you hold on to the pain and broken relationship when it hurts even more?

The only thing harder than forgiveness is the alternative.  Who do you need to forgive?


BTW - This quote is from the book What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey. Check it out from your local library.  I believe it will change your perspective.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Job Smell

Changing jobs can be very exciting.  You get a new office, new title, new job description and new responsibilities.  You may need new clothes for your new job and new office supplies for your new desk.  Although your reputation always follows you, a job change can give you the chance to start afresh.

Beginning a new job can also be challenging.  Leaving people that you know, love, trust, and have inside jokes with and starting all over again with names, faces, personalities, buildings, rules, and culture can sometimes be a little scary as well.


Well today was the first day of my new job.  I have been teaching 7th Grade Geography for 4 years at Western Oaks Middle School and I loved every moment of it.  I worked with great students, faculty, staff and administration and will always have a place in my heart for the Western Oaks Warriors.

I  am now an Assistant Principal at Kenneth Cooper Middle School.  (I am an intern which means I have all of the rights and responsibilities of an assistant principal while maintaining teacher pay and being mentored by seasoned administrators.)  I am very excited about this new position as I will be challenged and stretched in new ways and hopefully be able to impact the lives of even more students by impacting teachers.  Although this was only my first day, I met some wonderful people that will be very fun to work with.  I am looking forward to getting to know them better and meeting the rest of the faculty, staff and students of Cooper Middle School.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Better Way To Live

Thanks to Tim McGraw and Kris Allen, we have all heard the saying "Live like you were dying."  This saying encourages us to live life to the fullest, tell your family and friends that you love them, and make decisions as though there is no tomorrow.  I am a fan of this saying, except for the fact that we would all be broke since there would be no reason to save money.

I recently read the book A Better Way to Live by Og Mandino (one of my favorite authors).  He says that we should live like everyone else is dying.  Mandino writes:


"Beginning today, treat everyone you meet, friend or foe, loved one or stranger, as if they were going to be dead at midnight.  Extend to each person, no matter how trivial the contact, all the care and kindness and understanding and love that you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward.  Your life will never be the same again."
Now that is a challenge.  I mean I don't have a problem going sky diving, rocky mountain climbing, or going 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.  But asking me to treat every person I meet with all of the care, love, kindness, and understanding that I can muster is a different story.

Think about it though.  How do you suppose people would react if you treated them with unexpected and undeserved love and kindness?  How would your cashier, bank teller, food server, teacher, student, friend or family member feel if you stepped out of your comfort zone and talked to them as if you may be the last person that made them feel important?  Well how would you respond if someone did that to you?

So the next time you see a familiar face or meet someone, treat them as though they will be gone at midnight and make them feel important on their last day on Earth.

By the way, there are 16 other timeless principles that Og Mandino recommends to live by in his book A Better Way to Live.  It's a quick read and I recommend it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Out In The Open

What are you broadcasting?
I heard a statement on the radio that said something like this:
"One of the best things that could happen to you is if all of your sins and secrets were broadcast on the 6 o'clock news.  This way there would be no more hiding, covering up lies, and you would be forced to deal with any issues that you are struggling with."
Best thing?  My first reaction was that sounds like one of the worst things that could happen to you.  Embarrassment, humiliation and shame are words that come to mind.  Yet after thinking about it, there is unexplainable freedom in honesty and openness.  Don't get me wrong, it is difficult and humbling.  But there is something about confessing and asking forgiveness that is life changing.  (speaking from experience...thank you Jesus!)

Now I am not suggesting that you tell everyone, every sin you have ever committed.  That is between you and God.  Rather, I am suggesting that starting today you live your life in such a way that you (and everyone you know) would be pleased with anything that shows up about you on the news, facebook, or youtube.  Starting today, make the decision to do the right thing, just because it's the right thing.  Starting today, seek help where you need it.  Starting today, lead a life that you and your family can be proud of. 

Would you be proud if your every move was made public?  


 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What Is Your Brand?

What do Kleenex, Daisy Duke, iPods, Scotch tape and Ziploc baggies have in common?  They are revolutionary.  Not only did they make a great product but their brand name is the first thing that comes to mind. Think about it.  When you need to blow your nose what do you ask for?  When you see someone with short shorts what are they wearing?  If you see someone with headphones in what are they listening to?  If you need to wrap a present what type of tape do you need?  If you need to keep some food fresh what type of baggie do you put it in?  Even though there are all types of tissue, shorts, Mp3 players, tape, and baggies, these are always the brands that come to mind.

What about your brand?  What comes to the mind of others when they hear your name?  When someone sees a random act of kindness do they think "That was a (your name) move".  When someone hears words of encouragement and inspiration do they think "That sounds like something (your name) would say".

Your name and reputation is your brand and your actions are your product.  What do you want people to think of when they hear your name?  What are you going to do about it?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Going Green

In 2010, its cool to be GreenGreen meaning that you reduce, reuse, and recycle.  Green meaning that you are considerate of the environment when making decisions. 

I have heard this thousands of times but I never really took it too seriously.  I have always liked the idea of going green, but to be honest I thought it was too much of a hassle and cost too much money.

After spending a week in the "Greenest" country in the world (Costa Rica), I now have a better idea of what going green means.  It means always using real plates, cups, & silverware (never disposable).  It means using any leftover, untouched food in the next meal or the next day.  It means taking colder showers so they don't last as long.  It means buying more locally grown food and supplies.  It means donating unwanted goods or clothing to families in need or any local charity or even selling them at garage sales.  It means not wasting water while you're brushing your teeth or shaving.  It means only flushing the toilet once each day (just kidding). 

Going green doesn't require you to buy a hybrid car or install solar panels and windmills in your home.  It doesn't mean bathing in rivers or being a vegan.  It doesn't mean that you have to spend more money on less stuff.  All of these things are good but sometimes these giant leaps by a few can scare off small steps by many.  Going green simply means being good stewards of the Earth that God allows us to live on.  Whatever you decide to do, I hope you will do your part to leave this Earth better than you found it. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

28 Things I Learned in Costa Rica

My wife and I just returned from a mission trip in the mountains Costa Rica.  We served at Camp Roblealto with 5 other families through Pine Cove ONE:8 Trips.  Here are a few of the many things that I learned.

1.  Volcanoes are indescribably beautiful.
2.  Daily rain makes everything greener.
3.  A smile is multilingual. 
4.  Beans and Rice are good at every meal when you're hungry.
5.  There is not a good way to take a cold shower.
6.  I'm so thankful for the plumbing and sewage system in the USA.
7.  A 5 year old boy is a 5 year old boy, no matter what country or culture.
8.  Justin Bieber is somehow a global icon.
9.  You can communicate a lot through hand gestures and body language.
10.  My way is the best way for me, but not others.
11.  God's grace is needed around the world.
12.  I have way to many clothes and shoes.
13.  Being wasteful is disrespectful.
14.  A handmade gift means more than a store-bought gift.
15.  You grow closer to the people that share your struggles.
16.  I rely on my plans too much and God's plans too little.
17.  Costa Rican coffee is delicious.
18.  It is better to experience the rainforest in the trees than on the ground.
19.  There is freedom in going a week without looking in the mirror.
20.  I need to learn how to do more with less rather than less with more.
21.  There are more important things that I should be doing than watching TV.
22.  Facebook is revolutionary!
23.  Kids can impact the lives of others just as well as adults.
24.  Religion keeps a lot of people from experiencing God.
25.  Singing praise songs in 2 languages is better than in one.
26.  Serving is a great way to break down cultural and language barriers.
27.  Saying hello is much easier than saying goodbye.
28.  God answers prayer in all languages and is active in all cultures.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Open Hands

I heard a song on the radio today.  I don't remember the exact words but the song was talking about living with open hands.  I have heard this song multiple times but this is the first time that I got it.

To live with open hands is to be prepared to give at all times.  You cannot give with clinched fists.

To live with open hands is also to be prepared to receive at all times.  You cannot receive blessings from others with clinched fists.

Open your hands and open your heart. 

Are your hands open?

If not, what do you need to let go of?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Daily Grind

I heard a story the other day about a boy that has a problem with his eye.  Not that he needed glasses but he was seeing way more than double vision (think decavision if that's possible).  When he was about 5 years old he had corrective surgery that was supposed to heal him.  The surgery helped for a little while but eventually his vision problems came back.  He and his parents have tried many things but the only thing that seems to work is eye exercises.  The now approx. 10 year old has a 30 minute eye focusing/exercise plan that he must do twice a day, everyday. 

This is a great reminder that in order to get our desired results, we must have a daily plan.  In a world of get rich quick schemes, gastric bypass surgeries, 3 minute abs, and speed read the Bible we often forget the importance of the daily grind.  Not that any of these things are wrong, because they have helped many people achieve their desired financial, health, physical, and spiritual results.  However, it is important to remember that it is usually not the big, quick, and magical events that change, heal, improve, challenge, or inspire us.  Rather it is our daily approach, attitude, focus, and exercises that shape us into the people we desire to be. 

What daily exercises do you need to start today to become a better ______________?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Confirmation

There are times in our life when we have to make tough decisions.  It is usually a decision to start, stop, or change something that you are comfortable with.  Leadership guru Andy Stanley said, "Generally speaking, you are never going to be more than 80% certain when it comes to making tough decisions."  If you are 100% certain then you are not challenging yourself to step outside of your comfort zone.  Growth rarely happens within our comfort zone. 

I don't know what tough decisions you are facing but I do know that it is always great to receive confirmation.  It doesn't happen right away but it is a great feeling when you look back on the past weeks, months, or years and realize that the tough decision you made was certainly the correct one.  Who knows, if you had waited for that 100% confirmation before you made the decision you might still be waiting.  

Sometimes you need to make tough decisions and wait for confirmation rather than the opposite.

Be challenged.  Take a step of faith outside of your comfort zone and experience some new growth.