All That Jazz

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I love jazz music.

After a long day at work, there’s nothing like the chaotic, yet seamless beauty of jazz’s rhythms to calm my soul.

In a way, the “calming” seems a bit counter-intuitive. One would think that the sound variation would cause the mind to go a little haywire. I suppose this would be the case for some folks. My mind is pretty hyper and random, so maybe the percussion and mix of instruments feeds my need for stimulation…that’s my non-scientific guess at least, ha!

My wife and boys love jazz as well. Typically, when we eat dinner, we have jazz playing in the background. Feels fancy and soothing.

When I go on walks during my lunch break, I often listen to jazz, it helps me think.

When I’m driving my youngest son, Will to soccer, the only thing he wants to listen to is jazz. You would think he would be into something crazy to get him pumped, like Kid Rock, Metallica or Beastie Boys, but noooo…he wants relaxation to clear his mind before battle. In fact, when a good song comes on, he just closes his eyes, takes some deep breaths and smiles. These are memories that I’ll never forget.

We all have our thing to calm our souls, don’t we?! Whether it’s a place, a food, a drink, a smell, a faith or whatever, we tend to tap into these comforts for rest, energy and perspective.

Us humans tend to forget our need for rest and life-giving stuff…it’s like we enjoy starving ourselves of joy, as we beg for extra helpings of busyness and activity…basically anything to distract us from our own thoughts.

It’s no wonder why burnout, tiredness and anxiety run rampant in our culture! Our batteries are low and we’ve lost our chargers.

So today, I encourage you to find your “charger.” Look under the couch cushions, in the junk-drawer, in your fridge or wherever…you’ll find it eventually and once you do, calm your mind, kick your feet up and allow your soul the rest it needs.

Shoot, maybe flip on some Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby or John Coltrane and let them lower your blood pressure!

Trust me, as someone who’s always struggled with resting, it’s worth it. Your heart and those around you deserve to see your best, rested self.

God Bless,

Paul

Night Walks

My oldest son and I love going on walks together. It’s our thing.

Most of the time, we walk at night because it’s more magical that way…it feels like we own the town as our voices carry through the quiet, empty streets.

Oftentimes, we wind through the neighborhood, along the river, through downtown, to the high school and we just talk about life. The good stuff and the bad stuff, hopes and dreams, cars and jobs. It’s a great time to connect.

We’ve even hashed out some disagreements and frustrations quite vocally as we’ve strolled together. Those times aren’t exactly relaxing, but they’re healing, so it’s worth it. FYI, if you happen to walk by and hear raised voices and see furrowed brows, just keep walking, everything’s under control 😁.

Although I love walking with my dude, there have certainly been nights when I’ve been tired and haven’t felt like going. I’ve skipped nights here and there, but most of the time, I’ve gone anyways because I know that someday, our walks will become fewer and Ben will have other things to do…that’s ok, no big deal and that’s not a tear dripping down my cheek, it’s allergies…yeah, allergies.

Although Ben growing up is unavoidable someday, I sure don’t want to miss the chances NOW to spend time with him.

What’s the saying? Something like “the days are long, but the years are short.” TRUTH!

Life is way too short and these impressionable years are so important. To be that sounding board for my high school baby boy is the greatest honor.

My hope is that someday, Ben will look back on our times together and smile. That maybe he’ll gain some wisdom from our conversations. That maybe he’ll feel important and loved. That maybe he’ll carry on the same tradition with his own kids.

At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about for me…creating memories and showing up. I couldn’t be more grateful.

God Bless,

Paul

Jack Johnson and Worship

A couple of weeks ago, I had the great opportunity of attending a Jack Johnson concert with my wife, brother and sister. Both JJ and the venue were on my bucket list…BOX CHECKED! If you don’t know about him, he’s an ex-surfer turned musician and he’s amazing in the most chill of ways.

His music is a mix of beachy, bluesy, nod-your-head-in-full-relaxation-mode awesomeness. You should check him out!

While this post is not a plug for Jack Johnson (ok, maybe kinda), it’s a plug for the whimsy and sparkle that I experienced that night.

The venue was Edgefield Mcmenamins, which is a beautiful campus bustling with eclectic decorations, historic buildings, tasty food, good beer and they put on awesome concerts. Even though it was a Monday night, the setting was prime for a fantastic time.

As the sun set and folks planted their butts on the grassy hill, I just felt a sense of freedom, comfort and anticipation. Really though, I just felt joy. The warm air hugged my body like a warm blanket and the love of my family sitting beside me brought contentment. The lights of the stage and surrounding trees whispered peace and the rhythmic chatter of nearby voices felt like unity as we all gathered to enjoy the same great experience.

As the music began, my blood pressure dropped and my head started bobbing unapologetically. Before I knew it, we were all standing, letting the talent on stage sway our legs and lift our spirits. It truly was fantastic.

At times, I just looked up at the stars, breathed in the fresh air and thanked God for the moment, for the experience, for the gift of joy, peace and music. My wife said she hadn’t seen me that happy in a long time! She was right.

Jack Johnson facilitated worship for me that night. He really did. To some, this may sound a little strange…maybe even a little dramatic, but it’s true. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t worshiping the person of Jack Johnson, I was worshiping the God who provided the time, space and musical talent for us humans to share together.

I was reminded that God doesn’t always show up like we think He will. He isn’t confined to a church building or Christian circles…religion doesn’t have to accompany His presence…He’s bigger than that. He’s practical and meets us where we are. He’s not awkwardly sitting on a cloud, playing a harp with long hair and a bushy beard, speaking words like thee, thou, thus and other strange mutterings. Thank goodness for that! He’s simply everywhere, amidst our enjoyment, amidst our conversations, amidst our curse-filled frustrations, amidst our sin, amidst our loss, amidst our rebellion, amidst our Jack Johnson concerts 😁. We just need to look around sometimes.

At the end of the day, I’m fully aware that other folks just plain loved the concert with no worship involved. That’s cool too, it was dang good music!

Just do me a favor, will ya? As you go about your life this week, experiencing new adventures, trudging through ordinary tasks, kissing your kids goodnight, coaching, teaching or whatever…pause for a moment, take a deep breath and thank God. He’s there amidst it all.

Now that’s reason for worship!

God Bless,

Paul

A Spoon & Fork Kind of Love

Sometimes, the most ordinary of things can grab our attention. Things like the warmth of the sun, the simplicity of birds chirping, the smell of fresh flowers, the taste of a good cup of coffee….stuff like that.

While these things can seem pretty routine and expected, there are days when our spirits become soothed by them…where our perspectives become altered by them, where our hearts become content because of them.

One of those occurrences happened to me the other morning.

I was getting ready for work, stumbling through my normal routine, when I noticed a spoon and a fork, resting peacefully next to each other in the sink.

Sure, it was just a spoon and a fork, but the meaning came from the memories attached to them…from what they represented.

The spoon was my wife’s and the fork was mine. The night before, Pam nibbled on some cookies n’ cream ice cream (her favorite) and I devoured a piece of carrot cake (my favorite). We just hung out together…I watched basketball, she read a book and the boys were hanging out in the back room. We were just present with one another for a short time in the evening, enjoying our sweets.

That morning, as I stood in silence and reflected, coffee in hand, I felt contentment wrap me snugly like a warm blanket. I was grateful to have someone to share dessert with. I was grateful for the life that Pam and I have created. I was grateful for the warm, sleeping bodies resting peacefully in their rooms as I prepared for the day. I was grateful for my family.

It’s so easy to take the little things for granted…the ordinary nights, the hug of a child, the back scratches from a loved one, the texts, the nicknames, the sports, the meals shared, the laughter, the annoying stuff, the smells (both good and bad), the successes, the failures…all of it. These are the simple things that flavor routine. These are the things that we so easily miss or take for granted as we look ahead to tomorrow and miss the “beautiful now.”

Do me a favor. Hit pause for a second and take inventory of what you have this very second in time…your health, your home, your family, your relationships, your animals, your career, your everything. We are certainly not promised tomorrow, but we have today, so let’s savor it!

Be present, be intentional, be grateful.

Keep an eye out for those “spoons and forks” in your life. You may just find that your cup is overflowing with more blessings than you could ever imagine! I know mine is!

God Bless,

Paul

Guns & Cinnamon Rolls

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Sometimes, folks enter our lives for a season. It’s as if God places that missing puzzle piece perfectly to fill a need or teach a lesson.

Life is tricky. We often miss the blessings as they happen. It’s only as we reflect and process where we’ve been that we begin to realize the progress that we’ve made. Hindsight is 20/20, right?!

I was driving to work the other morning and remembered Chuck and Maxine. This wonderful couple loved me during a rough time in my life.

Now, you have to understand, I don’t remember much from my childhood and this memory surprised me like the day after a bad burrito! Whew!

Chuck and Maxine were my mom’s friends from church. My parents had recently gotten a divorce and I was struggling with a lot of anger and depression at the time….I was around 10 years old. She mentioned my struggles to her bible study group and then BOOM, along came these wonderful people.

While I loved Maxine, I took a special liking to Chuck. Now that I think about it, I remember him looking a lot like John Madden, no joke! He was a brick of a man with soft edges.

Although I don’t remember all of the details, Chuck took me out one day.

We did dude stuff. We ate big cinnamon rolls and shot guns. I think that was my first time shooting a “big” gun. I’m sure we talked about school and general things and I’m sure he just listened calmly, with grandpa-sized love in his eyes. I imagine that he smelled like Old Spice or Stetson cologne and his hands were stained with grease from rebuilding an engine or something. With those unknown details aside, I do know one thing, he showed up for me.

Chuck was my God-engineered “puzzle piece” during that season. I’m sure there were other folks as well, but 30 years later, I still remember Chuck. That says something.

Have you ever had someone like Chuck come along during a tough season?

Better yet, have you ever been that person for someone else? If so, awesome! If not, your opportunity may be right around the corner!

With the risk of sounding like a Hallmark card, we are all here for a reason, I truly believe that. The life experiences that we’ve gone through aren’t for nothing, they’re to share with other people.

Oftentimes, we minimize the enormous impact of love and presence. We live in a results-driven culture and there isn’t always a measurable reward for being present…for showing up…for loving someone.

Luckily, the God of this universe plays by different rules and could give a hoot about status and winning. He just wants to shine through our stories and sometimes, all we have to do is show up. That’s it!

Thanks for showing up for me Chuck, wherever you are. I’m grateful for you.

God Bless,

Paul

My First Job

Photo credit: Me! (High school prom, cooking, wearing Roth’s apron)

My oldest son, Ben, is 14, going on 18. With this age comes a lot of anticipation regarding the big years ahead.

He’ll be a freshman in high school next year (unbelievable!), he’ll get his driving permit and will begin an exciting new chapter of becoming a young adult.

Together, we’re dreaming about what his first car will be and what his first job will look like. While we haven’t nailed down the car thing yet, he does know that he wants to work at Taco Bell, so there’s that. BURRITOS FOR LIFE BABY!!! SWEET!

Man, I remember my job journey. I started off with a couple of odd jobs. My Dr. owned a small office building and he had me clean up the landscaping a bit….small stuff like pulling weeds, raking and trimming hedges. It was my first experience with an electric hedge trimmer and I cut right through that darn cord. It’s funny to think about now, but pretty embarrassing at the time.

I also mowed the lawn for a guy named Dan every week…my mom knew him from work and he threw me a bone. What a nice guy! He trusted me enough to go to his house when he was gone, use his mower and he left money for me under the stairs. It made me feel super responsible to be trusted like that.

As I grew older, it was time to find my first “real job.” The year was 1996 and I worked for Roth’s IGA grocery store in Canby, OR. Green bow tie service with a smile baby! Minimum wage was a whopping $4.75 per hour back then.

I was a courtesy clerk, so I basically bagged groceries and walked them out to cars for customers. I also counted cans at the bottle return, stocked shelves, cleaned floors, hung letters on the reader board and a variety of other odd jobs. We had to wear slacks, a white button down shirt, a green bow tie and a green apron. In fact, I still have that green apron in the attic! It was a traditional place that stressed customer service and hard work.

Roth’s really broke me out of my shell. It was during this time that I got a cool new haircut, became socially confident and started discovering my work ethic. I can’t wait for Ben to experience the same things!

I look back and think “man, those times were so simple and easy,” but then I remember that it’s all relative. At the time, I was still figuring out who I was. I didn’t really know how to be responsible and I was still a teenager, full of hormones and stressors that come along with that age.

Man, time sure flies by! All we can do is attempt to savor every moment and be grateful.

Just curious, what was your first job? Do you have good or bad memories about it and how did it begin the shaping process of who you are today?

I would love to hear your story.

God Bless,

Paul

Hey Christians, Learn How to Listen!

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There’s something safe and inviting about a listening ear. You know what I mean?

Maybe you can recall a time when you were listened to. When someone seemed to actually care about your story.

Many of those folks probably had similar characteristics…they zipped their lips, made eye contact, nodded as they followed your words and actually asked questions and provided insight regarding what you were discussing. They had sympathy and cried or laughed with you, depending on the direction of the conversation. That’s called active listening.

What about those times when you didn’t feel heard? You know the drill…constant interruptions, wandering eyes, fiddling with things, nodding halfheartedly, turning the conversation back to themselves constantly and not seeming to care at all about your life. That can be so maddening!

While we’re all guilty of poor listening from time to time, I’ve noticed that Christians often struggle in this area…there’s one word that encompasses why.

PRIDE. It’s the root of all kinds of bad stuff and I think it’s one of the big reasons for our crappy listening skills.

For some reason, Christians seem to be a bunch of know-it-all’s. It’s true. They wear their salvation around their necks like a medal of honor, as if they’ve earned it…silly people. They walk around with puffed up chests and turned backs to this “evil world.” They get uncomfortable, angry and aggressive towards all things “unchristian” for the sake of Jesus. They turn people off and push them away.

When the time/opportunity comes to listen to a story different from theirs, they shut down. It’s as if they think that listening equals agreement. It’s as if the other person isn’t worthy or their points aren’t valid. It’s as if love has been put on the back-burner for the sake of opinion and “truth.” There’s something very wrong here.

Here’s the deal…you want to “save” people? Cool, but first off, that’s not your job….that’s God’s job. Your job is to patiently show love. Your job is to be kind. Your job is to converse with folks who are completely different from you, even if it feels uncomfortable. Through relationship and trust comes opportunity to share the hope of Jesus. BUT, we have to shut our damn mouths and listen first!

To be fair, there are some very humble, generous, loving folks out there who follow Jesus. God bless ’em and I’m grateful for their amazing example! Unfortunately, these solid folks seem to be in the minority these days. We have some work to do in reversing this trend.

I had a conversation recently with a guy who some would consider “worldly” or “not a person of faith.” We talked about his past and how he was raised. We talked about some of his habits. We talked about some philosophical stuff. We talked about the cosmos, time travel and other “new agey” theories. I just listened.

I found out that he was raised in the church and was being groomed to be a pastor at a young age. He finally became burnt out and sick of religion, so he went another direction. This blew my mind! It’s funny how when you stop and listen, you discover that your assumptions and judgements are often skewed or incorrect altogether.

Towards the end of our conversation, I had the opportunity to affirm this person and encourage him. Nothing wild, nothing earth-shattering, I just loved on him and trusted God to do the rest. He thanked me for listening to his story. He seemed like he sincerely meant it…almost surprised by my lack of confrontation or interjection.

None of this would have happened if my spikes were up and my pride tried to direct the conversation in another direction…God had room to do His work, which is ultimately what’s most important.

I don’t share this story to brag about my stellar listening skills. Shoot, God knows that I’ve messed up plenty of conversations by being distracted. Just ask my wife how well I listen when watching sports!

BUT, I’m grateful that I’m slowly figuring it out. I’m even more grateful for God’s patience and grace with me as I learn to openly listen to others without slipping in an agenda or opinion.

At the end of the day, Jesus is the ultimate example for Christians to follow…He listened to outsiders, He shared meals with sinners, He embraced the lowly and blessed the poor.

Friends, we must lean in…our workplaces, churches, relationships, families and communities NEED us to lean in…with loving ears and open hearts.

Sometimes the most loving thing that we can do is not say anything at all. Actions often speak louder than words.

God Bless,

Paul

My Issues With Love & Loss

My wife and I were having a conversation the other day about love and loss. I know, pretty deep stuff, eh?!

It all started with her asking me if we could get another kitten and I answered with an emphatic “HECK NO!” She was definitely “poking the bear” a bit….she knows I don’t get super excited about animals. But we enjoy harassing each other, so there’s that.

I mean c’mon people, is it really worth all of that hassle? The fur, the scratching up of furniture, the expense, the inconvenience, the poop…animal lovers, I can sense your judgement right now…your ice-cold judgement, ha!

In addition, I’m also concerned over how attached she gets to animals. How she gets absolutely devastated when the little boogers get hurt or die. Pam has a big heart and she puts it on the line…unfortunately, with that comes pain and heartbreak. I hate seeing her sad! She knows this about herself and she’s working on finding that balance…maybe holding on a little more loosely. I commend her for that.

I, on the other hand, am quite opposite from my lovely wife in the love/attachment area. In fact, I swing a little too far in the other direction.

Ok, let’s just be real here, I have issues with love and loss.

I know, that sounds a little dramatic and emotional, but it’s true.

To be clear, it’s not that I don’t love people or have genuine relationships. I love my family dearly, I love my friends dearly and I genuinely love people in general. I just find myself holding back sometimes. It’s an internal thing. A protection thing.

Anyways, as our conversation continued, I brought up that classic saying “it’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” I mentioned how I thought that saying was BS and how I would rather have not loved at all vs. dealing with the loss…Pam quickly belted out, “Paul, that’s a big issue on your part!” While I sheepishly laughed and smirked about that a little, I knew that she was right. Dang it, I hate it when she’s right! Wives!

I am aware that this point of view isn’t exactly healthy, functional or accurate….at least as far as I’m concerned. Of course I would rather be married to my sweetheart vs. not being married at all. Of course I would rather be a dad to my 2 boys vs. not being a dad at all. Of course I would rather know my friends and family vs. not knowing them at all. I get all of that. I’m not a total monster people. Maybe a little goofy and hyper at times, but not a monster!

It’s just that deep down inside, there’s a little Paul that’s afraid to feel pain…to feel loss, to feel rejection.

I really can’t pinpoint where this fear originated. It may stem from my childhood or maybe some past experiences, who knows.

To throw a positive spin, I’m glad to be aware of this particular shortcoming…it forces me to lean into God’s grace and redemptive power to overcome it. He likes to work through weakness.

Oftentimes, just the simple acknowledgement of our flaws zaps their power. While certain fears and insecurities might always be a struggle for us, they don’t have to define us.

In fact, God can use our bad stuff to create good stuff! He just wants us to give it to Him so He can put the broken pieces back together. Shoot, I have to do that multiple times a day and I’ll continue to do so!

So, how are you doing? I know you’re mostly perfect, but what tiny fraction of you needs some tweaking? If you’re anything like me, you have a running list going. It’s okay, we’re all a little messed up.

If you’re not aware of any flaws, just ask a spouse or a close friend. If they’re anything like my wife, they’ll lovingly hit you between the eyes with it…God bless her. My guess is that they’ll be honest and say it with gentleness. That’s the hope at least!

At the end of the day, if we’re honest, we all have our thing…that bit of brokenness that we hate to admit, but can’t deny. I know this because we’re all human, therefore, we all have a story…a very imperfect story.

Would you be brave enough to bring those wounds and insecurities out from the darkness and into the light? Go ahead, expose them, I dare you. That’s when God, the greatest Physician ever, does His best work…heart work…if you’ll let Him.

God Bless,

Paul

Easter – What Jesus Wants You to Know About It

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Hey, it’s Jesus here. You know, the Big Guy In The Sky, Creator Of The Universe, Son of God.

Soooo, Easter is right around the corner and it’s kind of a big deal.

It’s during this time that we celebrate and remember who I am and what I’ve done for you.

In short, I was crucified on a wooden cross in front of my friends, my family and my adversaries. My dead, broken body was laid in a sealed tomb and I was resurrected 3 days later. I know that sounds a little weird, kinda like a Hollywood movie, but it happened and there are some things that I want you to know about it.

First off, I died as a sacrifice for all of humanity, including you…because I love you.

Secondly, let’s be real here, you humans didn’t deserve it. You’re a pretty sinful, selfish bunch of people.

You tortured and crucified me for no solid reason, right beside 2 criminals who earned their places on the crosses from which they hung. I spoke the truth and because it challenged your religious rituals and beliefs, you chose to have me killed. Not cool at all.

It’s okay though, because I love you. In fact I am the definition of love and I chose to shower you with it, even though it wasn’t earned or deserved. That’s called grace.

While I appreciate folks dressing up for Easter services, reciting “He is Risen!” to one another and gathering around the table for meals, my main concern is your heart.

More than anything, I want you to understand the depths and weight of My love for you.

Death used to wag it’s bony finger at you mortals, but I fixed that…on purpose…in fact, I came to earth from a perfect place just to fix it…for you! Don’t you see?!

When I arose from the seemingly cold grip of death, I created access for you…yeah, YOU! I bridged the gap between you and God. No matter who you are, what you’ve done or where you’ve been, God loves you unconditionally. No more religion, no more performance, only relationship. Pure and simple.

If you already know Me and walk with Me, I love you. Let’s keep walking this road together.

If we’ve never met, it’s nice to meet you! Will you take a stroll with Me? Will you believe in Me? Will you trust Me?

You may be asking yourself, “what’s in it for me?” I completely understand this question. In fact, as I desperately cried tears of blood before My crucifixion, I asked God the same thing.

Here’s what I promise to offer you, if you’ll let Me: PEACE, JOY and HOPE. This is not a sales pitch or a marketing ploy…this is heart change. This is pouring holy-gasoline on the festering coals of your spirit, just waiting to be lit. This is the solidity of an anchored ship that refuses to tip amidst roaring seas…this is true life…life with flavor, meaning and purpose.

While your circumstances may stay the same, your heart certainly won’t. There’s a God-shaped hole in your heart that longs to be filled…I know you’ve been searching everywhere to fill it…stop searching…stop self-medicating…stop trying so hard…you can rest now…place your head on My shoulder and your hand in Mine.

Only I can satisfy your need to feel loved. Culture is merely a band aid, while I am the cure.

Here’s the thing, I’ll never force you to love Me. That’s not real love. There’s choice in love.

You would never want someone to marry you out of force, would you? Just like you would never want to be forced to choose a mate or a friend. Real love involves free will and I love you enough to allow that freedom.

So here’s your invitation. Will you believe? Will today be the day that you join the celebration? You can accept or decline, the choice is up to you. I love you either way.

Just remember one thing: Easter isn’t just a traditional holiday filled with religious obligations. It’s a day that we celebrate death getting kicked in the nuts, falling over in utter defeat. It’s not just a fable, it’s an open door.

As the boulder moved and I stretched from a 3-day nap, I thought of you…I thought about how My pain was worth it…because, in case you missed it, I love you.

Oh, one more thing…stay clear of those marshmallow bird things called Peeps…they’re of the devil 😉

Happy Easter!

With Love,

Jesus

Memories in Dusty Boxes

That’s me! Photo Credit: also me.

This last weekend, I spent some time sorting through memory-filled boxes in my attic.

I’m working on a little writing project, so I was looking for an old picture from my childhood. This little treasure hunt resulted in me pulling out every box of pictures and mementos that I own. I dove deep.

I have some pretty vintage stuff like my old baby pj’s, awards from elementary school, bandanas from summer camps, the grocery store apron from my 1st “real” job, the kilt that I wore at a college dance, along with gobs and gobs of pictures. Yeah, a lot of stuff…cool stuff…heart-melting stuff. What a trip down memory lane that was!

On most days, I admit that I suck at remembering stuff, especially from the early years of my life. Sure, there are some things that I can recollect, but mostly, it’s kind of a blur. I’m not sure if that’s just me getting old or if it’s some kind of protection mechanism. Who knows.

Memories are tricky little boogers. They can bring a smile to our faces or a knife to our chests. Our past isn’t always good and because we’re human, it’s full of mistakes and lessons.

The past can also be full of good things. Moments that have brought great joy and accomplishments. Moments that have shaped our lives and developed our character. Moments that have made us…well…US!

In other words, who we WERE yesterday teaches us who we ARE today. It’s a part of our story.

On a personal note, as I sifted through my time-worn stuff, I had a mixture of emotions…but mostly, I felt empowered, humbled, grateful and even a little sad as I remembered.

I remembered growing up on a quiet street with a long rock road. I remembered the bullying. I remembered my parent’s divorce. I remembered my mom’s dedication and sacrifice to her children. I remembered my dad who was consistently around (even after the divorce), being my #1 sports fan. I remembered hitting my stride in high school, finding confidence and causing trouble. I remembered going skydiving. I remembered college and the opportunities it gave me to grow. I remembered leadership experiences, mission trips, teaching Sunday school and gut-wrenching presentations. I remembered words of affirmation from my mentors, I remembered friendships….oh the friendships. I remembered heartbreak. I remembered healing. I remembered it all.

Today, I am married to my sweetheart, I have 2 healthy sons, I have a house, a job, amazing friends, a great church and my cup overflows with gratefulness. It’s like my past and present had a baby and BOOM, here I am, swimming in blessings!

My story began the moment I took my first breath. Every experience since has molded me into the exact person that I am right now. It’s all valuable…each and every bit of it.

So when’s the last time you dug deep, like WAY deep into your past? I know, it can be scary and painful. Do it anyways.

We certainly can’t live in the past nor can we dwell on it, that’s just not a healthy space to live in. What we CAN do is blow the dust off that ‘ol box of memories, slowly reach in with intentional hands and choose the best things to take along with us for the rest of the journey.

Hopefully you’ll grab a bag of wisdom, a cup of understanding, a spoonful of confidence, a bowl of courage and a wheelbarrow full of laughter and love. Maybe some beer and Fritos as well. Oh, and salsa.

Yeah, now we’re talking! Now go live your story!

God Bless,

Paul