Troubles Will Come

This world is full of trouble.  It’s true!

Whether it be personal trouble, political trouble, work trouble, family trouble, emotional trouble or spiritual trouble, its all the same….it’s trouble.

We can’t avoid it.  This horrible “T” word is lurking around every corner, waiting to defeat us, distract us and even seduce us.  Some of us run to it, but many of us attempt to avoid it out of fear.  It makes us uncomfortable, disrupts plans and causes pain.  Trouble is, well, trouble!

In my gut, I feel the need to say that, although trouble is present everywhere, we must not let it control us, manipulate us or defeat us.  I have good news friends!  There’s hope and I know where to find it in 5 letters…see below:

JESUS

Before you fast forward through this post, shaking your head at just another “Jesus fanatic post,” I invite you to hear me out.

I don’t view Jesus as a magic genie who is able to rid my life of all trouble.  I don’t expect him to provide earth-shattering revelations daily (although, that would be cool!)  I don’t even expect Him to always take away my pain when I’m hurting (and there are days when I’d like him to!)

What I’m confident of is Jesus’s consistency and truthfulness.  By this, I mean that He doesn’t change and He’s very honest about trouble.  In fact, he pretty much guarantees it!  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

There’s no skating around it, problems arise in life, whether we believe in Jesus or not.  Here’s the point that I want to stress about Jesus though:  SURE, JESUS DOESN’T PROMISE FREEDOM FROM TROUBLES, BUT HE PROMISES PEACE AMIDST THEM.

Did you catch that?  He promises PEACE AMIDST the troubles!  That’s amazing stuff!

There have been times in my life where I’ve just been down in the dumps…where life seems mundane and hopeless…where my feelings seem to overtake my faith.  It’s during those times that I’ve felt God’s presence the most.  Like a warm blanket covering me, making things clear.  It’s hard to explain…it’s supernatural.  Jesus meets us where we are in the most simple, practical ways because, well, He knows us and He created us.

So what are you facing today?  Have you just lost someone special to you?  Has your health gone downhill?  Are you lonely?  Are you afraid?  Do you feel unloved?  Are you facing an impossible situation?  Are you lacking hope?  If any of these things sound familiar to you, it’s okay, I’ve felt these feelings too at one time or another.

I simply just want to invite you to consider asking Jesus to meet you where you are.  I’m not kidding, just ask “Jesus, can you please meet me where I am?”  That’s it.  Nothing fancy, just simple and practical.

Look for Him, He’s there, waiting to give you one of those big ‘ol grandpa hugs.

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everybody Poops

You may be wondering why in the world I’m writing about poop.  I mean, who really wants to read about something that’s gross, weird and stinky?!  Well, apparently you do…ha, gotcha 😜.

The truth is, we’re all humans and guess what, we all poop.  Yeah, I said it.  You poop, I poop, we all poop.  We’re just a bunch of poopers.  Enough poop talk for ya?  Ok, I’ll continue on.

Friends, this is actually a very, very profound idea…this idea about poop.  Why is this profound you ask?  Great question.  It’s because we all actually hold this one thing in common as living, breathing human beings!!!  We have something in common, can you believe it?!  Me neither.

Although this whole pooping thing is an awkward bit of common ground, I would like to ask a question, if you would allow:

IF WE’RE ALL DOING THIS HUMAN THING TOGETHER, THEN WHY IN THE WORLD DO WE LACK SO MUCH GRACE AND KINDNESS TOWARDS ONE ANOTHER?!?!

We’ve isolated ourselves and the incredible amount of pride, superiority and entitlement that we have towards life and towards each other baffles me.

Just drive on the freeway, wait in a drive thru line or go through security at the airport and you’ll often see a spectacle of impatience, anger and blatant selfishness!  Better yet, wave someone through at a stop sign and watch them drive on by with no acknowledgement or hand wave.  Sit on a train or wait in a doctors office and watch the lack of eye contact.

It’s like we’re all afraid of each other, which is sad because we’re all in the same boat. Life is hard and we’re all tripping through each day in our own way…EVERY ONE OF US!

I know the whole poop thing was a silly example of commonality, but I hope you get the point.  People, we need to recalibrate some things and actually start loving each other vs. competing with one another.  Our differences AND similarities should unite us, not push us apart.

With this call for unity, I can’t help but mention that today is 9/11/19. As a nation, we reflect on the terrible acts of terror that happened 18 years ago.  The pain was unimaginable as lives were lost and families were torn apart.  It was a scary time for all and my deepest prayers go out to all who were affected.

Here’s the thing, even through all of the tragedy and loss, folks came together as one. Heroes emerged, tears were shed and rebuilding began….all of this being done TOGETHER, not individually.

It seems as though we’ve forgotten how to come together. Most importantly, it seems as though we’ve forgotten how desperately we need love….how desperately we need each other.  Us weird humans were created to have relationships with one another…that’s just the way it is.

The good news is that you and I have a great opportunity to turn this ship around.  We can be light, even amidst the darkness. We can offer common courtesy to one another.  We can open doors, smile and actually make eye contact with those around us.  We can be different in a good way, in hopes that our kindness becomes contagious.

So tomorrow, 9/12/19, would you join me in making a conscious effort to be a positive influence within your different circles? Heck, you can start tonight if you prefer, even better!

Change starts with one action, no matter how big or small. Just be love in word and deed, it’s that simple.

Oh yeah, If you happen to think of me or this post the next time you poop, that would be super awkward. Don’t do that 💩💩💩.

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

Growing Up

It’s funny how, as grown adults, we hang on to weird stuff that we struggled with as children.  It’s like we’re just big kids with facial hair (sorry ladies, speaking to the men on this one), responsibilities, vehicles and kids of our own.  It’s kind of a scary thought, really.

The older I’m getting, the more I’m realizing one of my biggest inner struggles:  I CARE TOO MUCH ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK.

It’s kinda embarrassing to say, but it’s true.  My inner-childlike-chubby-insecure-afraid self rears it’s silly little head sometimes and it’s just that…silly.

The truth is, my whole life, I’ve done my best to blend in.  I’ve tried my hardest to not stand out in a crowd.  I’ve avoided conflict as much as possible for fear of rejection or how I might look.  I’ve been scared.

It’s affected the clothes that I’ve bought, the shows that I’ve watched, the friends that I’ve had, the things that I’ve done and the ways that I’ve thought.  Almost like I’ve lived my life for other people.  Who am I kidding, I WAS living my life for other people!  Friends, don’t live your lives for other people.  It sucks.

Within this last year or so, I’ve really felt the need to break this cycle.  I’ve become more aware of how I’ve struggled with this issue my whole life.  It’s pretty easy to become blind to our own weaknesses because we’re so comfortable with them, you know what I mean?!

So, for what it’s worth, here’s how I’m learning to combat the fear of what other’s think:  PRIORITIZE, SIMPLIFY, FIND PERSPECTIVE AND SEEK TRUTH.

For me, placing God at the center of my life is key…actually it’s necessary, kinda like breathing.  It takes the focus off of myself and places it on Him.  I try to allow Him to provide perspective.  I try to allow Him to help me prioritize.  I try to allow Him to help me simplify my thoughts.  I try to lean into His truth.  He’s my filter.

Sure, I still have good days and bad days, but overall, I’m growing and that’s all that matters I guess.

So, what’s your deal?  What nagging thing are you hanging on to from childhood?  Surely I’m not the only one in this world that has hang ups…or maybe I am…shoot, what are people going to think of me and this post?!  Kidding.

Seriously though, it’s ok to struggle with stuff…even immature, embarrassing stuff.  The cool part comes when we can admit it, change it and grow from it…whatever “it” is for you and for me.

God Bless,

Paul

 

My Not-So-Little Boy

I’ll admit it, I’ve been feeling a bit sentimental and a tad emotional lately….not a lot emotional, just a tad emotional…we’ll just call it macho-emotional ;).

Ben, my oldest son, is finishing up his last year of elementary school and entering the big, bad world of middle school.

For some reason, I’m kinda struggling with this next chapter.  His feet are now the size of cars, he’s growing like a weed and now has to wear deodorant to fend off the flies.  Things are changing and my little boy is becoming a young man.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful that he’s a smart, independent and kind kiddo.  He opens doors for ladies, says his “please’s” and “thank you’s” and is on his way to success, I’m sure of it.

BUT, I still want to keep a tight grasp on that not-so-little guy…I selfishly want to sprinkle him with magical dust that keeps him young forever…

Ok fine, since the whole fairy dust thing “isn’t possible,” I guess I’ll just settle for slowing down and trying to appreciate every moment with him.

To take my own advice, the other night, I asked Ben if he wanted to go have some dude time.  He seemed pretty cool with this plan.

Dude time isn’t ever fancy, it’s just us being dad and son, hanging out together, talking about whatever.  In this instance, we hung out in the “Bro Lounge” (an extra hang out room in our house), turned some music on and plopped down on the couch.  We talked about girls, friends, school and made up silly, gross names for no apparent reason…you know, dude stuff.

Time slowed down and it felt good to connect with him…to be alive with him…to laugh with him…to love him with my presence…my UNRUSHED presence.

Time is a weird thing in that it flies by so fast, yet seems to drag on at the same time. Know what I mean?!

It’s so tempting to wish away the now and keep our eyes planted on the future….especially when it comes to our children.

Before long, years have passed and we’re longing for the “old days” when things were much “simpler.” It’s all relative I suppose.

Let’s not let distraction and busyness cloud the beauty of right now.

It would be so cool if you joined me in becoming a sponge….by “sponge” I mean absorbing every emotion, feeling, memory, hug and conversation involving where our kids are RIGHT NOW in life.

After all, they need us and we need them. Let’s slow down and love ’em a lot.

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

 

 

Why I’m Proud to Be Imperfect

Photo Credit: Viktoria Alipatova

I’ll admit it, not too long ago, I wanted folks to think that I had my life together.  I wanted folks to think that I didn’t have any problems.  I wanted folks to think that I was perfect.

Silly me, there’s no such thing as a perfect person, but I wanted other’s to think so anyways.

These days, I want the opposite.

I want others to know how messed up I really am.  Not in a weird, creepy way or anything, but I just want to be real, not fake.

In fact, if someone were to approach me, praising my perfection, I would want to grab them by the shoulders, slap their face five times, yell “wake up!” and loudly profess my less-than-perfectness…it’s that extreme.

Here’s the thing, I can’t handle the pressure of being perfect.  Attempting to be perfect is just an unnecessary set up for failure.  We’re not created to be perfect, nor are we expected to be perfect by our Creator!

PERFECTION IS IMPOSSIBLE.

Also, who wants to be around a “perfect” person anyways?!  They’re unapproachable and it’s hard to relate to them.  Oftentimes, they expect their friends to be perfect as well and that’s no good.

As a person who loves Jesus, I feel convicted to be open about my own struggles and weaknesses.  The folks who have made the biggest impact in my life were the ones who were transparent and humble.  I want to be like them.

The truth is, we can all learn from each other.  Pride often gets in the way though.  It creates a wall in our relationships, preventing us from being real and helpful to one another.

Pride soils true growth like tomato sauce on a white tuxedo.  It’s messy, but God’s like our stain remover, using Jesus as the cleaning agent.  This hope and common ground should add flavor to our conversations, not turn them into shallow bantering.

Now, I do admit that there’s risk in allowing others to see my imperfection.  In many ways, I’m inviting judgment, gossip and rejection and that’s ok.  Honestly, I wouldn’t really want to hang out with people who didn’t accept me for who I am anyways.

With all of this being said, I challenge you to be ok with YOU….good ‘ol messy YOU!  Better yet, I challenge you to allow others into your world, struggles and all.  Who knows, that person that you see everyday might be encouraged by your journey.  I think it’s worth the risk.

So go and let your imperfect light shine friends!  The impact that you make in this world won’t be based on the perfectness of your perfectly perfected perfection 😜….it will simply be based on how well you love.  That’s where legacy lives and that’s where I want to be.  How about you?

God Bless,

Paul

You’re Grounded!

Woman Sitting While Reading A Book

I was a super hyper-active kid growing up.  Most of my days consisted of playing basketball, thrashing through the woods, throwing water balloons at outhouses and other normal things like that 😜.  Heck, I’m still a pretty hyper guy, always looking to have fun, move and be active.

Sometimes I would go and go and go until I hit a wall.  Other times, my attitude would get out of line, I would get into trouble and my mom would ground me.

Being grounded was like torture….not being able to play with my friends, run around or be free ate me alive.  It sucked.

A funny thing always happened when I got grounded though…after throwing an epic fit and freaking out, I eventually relaxed.

My mom still laughs at her strategy of grounding me…it was the only thing she knew that slowed me down!  She loved me and knew me well…she knew what was best for me and you know what, she was right.

I can’t help but think about God and how He does the same for me…about how he does the same for all of us, whether you believe in Him or not.

One of my favorite spots in the bible is Psalms 23:2-3.  It’s a small snidbit of the chapter that many people might overlook, but it means something huge to me.  It says: “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul…”

I love the part about how God MAKES me lie down in green pastures.  Similar to my mom grounding me, God knows me better than I know myself and He understands when it’s time for me to stop, re-evaluate and find peace…so sometimes, the Big Man hits the pause button in a way that only He can.

The whole green pastures and quiet waters part is God’s way of bringing me to my blissful place…my comfort place…my peaceful place.  We all have those places that we love…those places that center us.  Maybe for you, it’s actual green pastures and quiet waters.  Maybe it’s the beach.  Maybe it’s at home.  Maybe it’s the mountain.  Maybe it’s your favorite coffee shop.  Maybe it’s someplace new that you’re yet to discover!

Many times, when God makes us slow down, it doesn’t exactly feel like He’s leading us to “quiet waters” or “green pastures.”  You know what I mean?!  It feels more like He’s leading us to a big mud puddle or a Hannah Montana concert…yeah, that bad!

Quite often, we don’t realize what He’s doing because we’re near sighted.  We get caught up in the rat race and forget that there’s more to life than our tasks at hand.

I guess we just need to trust the process.  We need to understand that we’re not as smart as we think we are.  The truth is that God loves us, He’s smarter than us and He desires for us to be the best version of ourselves…the exact version that He created us to be!

I’m not sure what’s going on in your life, but if you’re like me, you could probably slow down a bit. You could probably use a good timeout or “grounding.”  Maybe God’s already momentarily hit the brakes on your plans and you’re searching for clarity right now.  It will come.

My prayer is that God meets you where you are.  That He, as the Ultimate Parent, gently puts His giant arms around you and lands you in a good place.  Somewhere that’s full of good stuff, but most of all, a place where His peace is all around.

God Bless,

Paul

Preparing for Battle

calm daylight evening grass

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When you roll out of bed each morning, what’s the first thing that you do?  What are the first thoughts that you think?  How do you cast the vision for your day?  How do you “prepare for battle?”

I’m a morning person, so after rubbing the sleep from my eyes and smacking the alarm, I’m ready to go!  Routine is my friend at 4:30 in the morning.  Honestly, I could probably wake up later, but allowing myself time to chill, pray, read or whatever is huge for me.

Over the years, I’ve discovered how important those first few minutes / hours of the morning really are…they often set the tone for the entire day.

My oldest son, Ben, is a worry wart.  He’s full of “what if’s” and is always searching for things to stress about.  He also feels compelled to plan out the next day and the next day and the next day because he likes predictability and control.

Please know that I’m not trying to paint a negative picture of my son.  Being a structured and safe person isn’t necessarily a bad thing…until it starts robbing us of joy.

Lately, we’ve noticed a bit of joy-robbing starting with Ben, so we’re trying to be intentional about teaching him how to chill…how to trust himself…how to trust God with his future…with his tomorrow.

Worry is Ben’s natural tendency, so learning this is a bit like swimming upstream with 50 Costco-sized bags of Doritos strapped to his ankles.  Ok, weird illustration, but you get the point.

The truth is, we can’t force the kiddo to do anything, but we can certainly point him in the right direction.  So, I’ve been trying to teach him how to prepare…how to slow down…how to expect challenges and ready himself for “battle” every day before he walks through those school doors.

We all have “school doors” to walk through every day, don’t we?!  Our lives are full of challenges, whether they be physical, emotional, relational, spiritual or whatever.  Surviving the day seems darn impossible at times to deal with, let alone prepare for!

With all this being said, I strongly encourage you to join Ben and I in preparing for each day as they come.  EXPECT challenges, EXPECT temptations, EXPECT to mess up and EXPECT God’s grace to be there when you do….just prepare and be grateful for the gift of another day!

God Bless,

Paul