My #1 Goal For Next Year

img_5988Lately, I’ve been reflecting on this last year.  It’s been full of awesomeness, it really has!  I’ve met some great people, I’ve grown closer to others, I’ve been stretched, I’ve traveled, I’ve overcome obstacles, I’ve failed, I’ve succeeded, I’ve grown, I’ve battled dark clouds and rejoiced when those clouds have retreated.  Overall, it’s been a pretty darn good year.

In a couple of days, the slate will be wiped clean and another year will be upon us.  More opportunities lie ahead around every corner….ordained opportunities that are waiting to welcome us like an anxious puppy patiently anticipating their owner’s arrival home.  Exciting!

As I’ve grown older and wiser (hehe!), I’ll typically set a goal to pursue for the upcoming year.  Not a new years resolution or anything, just a vision to follow.  So here’s mine….drum roll please….MY #1 GOAL FOR THIS NEXT YEAR IS TO LOVE BETTER.  There you go.

So what in the world does this “love better” stuff mean?  Well, I’m glad you asked!  For me, it means being open to God’s invitations.  To love people, even though I may not receive anything in return.  So often, I hesitate when I feel God’s nudging to love on somebody or offer kind words.  Ok, I admit it…most of it stems from fear and lack of trust.  For some reason, I forget that God is bigger than me.  I forget that I’m just a limited human, influenced by culture and sin.  I forget that it’s not about me, it’s about Him.  God wants HIS love in MY heart to spew or spray (ok, weird words) or add flavor to those around me.  Not that I’m exceptional or worthy or anything, it’s that He’s exceptional!

So, when I feel led to give the shirt off my back to someone in need, I want to do it.  When I feel led to talk to that lonely looking guy on the bench, I want to do it.  When I feel led to feed that homeless person, I want to do it.  When I feel led to pray for somebody, I want to do it.  When I feel led to send that text, email or make that phone call, I want to do it.  When I see God working in ways that don’t necessarily make sense to me, I want to follow Him…NO MATTER WHAT!  There’s something powerful and beautiful that happens when we are walking in-step with our Creator.  Life is full and complete and purposeful…almost normal feeling…like we were meant to love with boldness, following God’s lead, serving others, not ourselves…hmmmm.

So that’s it.  Pretty simple goal, but so hard to follow through with sometimes!  I’m gonna try though, so watch out world!

WARNING:  You may be hugged next time I see you.  Don’t be afraid, God probably told me to do it.  😉

Happy New Year friends and family.  I believe that God has some amazing powerful things in store for all of us, I really do!

What goals do you have for next year?  What is God challenging you to pursue or change?

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

 

 

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Where I’m Going This Year

broken shoesMany of you know that I absolutely love kids.  Their simplicity, truthfulness and joy encourage me to dig deeper.  I’m a kid at heart, so I can relate to the little boogers I guess!

I am always praying and remaining open for opportunities to minister, lead and just hang out with kids.  I truly think it’s a calling and I don’t want to miss that call when it comes.

Well, in a way, a call did come in the form of my wife’s sweet voice encouraging me to do something…..TO GO TO ECUADOR!  Our church is teamed up with Compassion International and we have sponsored and built a church in Santa Elena, Ecuador.  Many children have been rescued from the grips of poverty because of this church.  We have the opportunity of teaching and playing with these awesome kiddos for 1 whole week!  Plus our family currently sponsors 2 kids through Compassion and I may get to meet them if I go on this trip!

At first, I didn’t want to take her nudging seriously because, well, Ecuador is a long ways away and I’ve never been apart from my family that long.  Also, the flight, money and inconvenience of it all just made things seem out of reach.  So I let it rest and I prayed about it.

Over the next couple of months, I couldn’t kick the thought of embracing small, poverty-stricken kiddos.  I couldn’t kick the thought of playing soccer with them, goofing around with them and loving on them.  I couldn’t kick the thought that maybe God was calling me out of my routine for once…..answering my prayers in a way that would stretch me and challenge me.

SO I’VE MADE THE DECISION TO GO!

There’s something exciting about responding to the call of spreading the Gospel to all the nations.  Whether I’m teaching or loving, or just being present, I’m excited to have hands and feet for God to use.

All this is out of my comfort zone and risk is certainly a possibility.  The “what if” list could grow and grow if I let it….but I won’t…because God’s in this.  I’m just along for the ride.

Strangely, I’m not fearful at all, just anxious…in a good way.  That’s how I know that this is the right thing to do.

I’m grateful for a supportive family.  I’m also grateful for a God who knows me better than I could ever know myself.  He knows how I grow and I’m sure that I will leave Ecuador a broken soul, only to be filled up with a beautifully renewed perspective.

Please pray for this journey, for the team, for our safety and for the advancement of Jesus’s love to even the most afflicted.  I appreciate it very much friends!  More to come.

God Bless,

Paul

 

The Power of Encouragement

EncourageSometimes, the simplest, kindest of words can change a person’s day…..in some cases, those words can even alter somebody’s life path.

Every day, we have 3 choices: 1.  To encourage someone  2.  To tear someone down  3. To simply do nothing

As bad as it sounds, sometimes offering a word of encouragement can be a challenge.  Taking our eyes off of ourselves and noticing others takes intention and effort.

Offering encouragement can also be uncomfortable.  You run the risk of talking to a brick wall.  Of somebody not receiving your words in a way that you expected.  You run the risk of being vulnerable.

BUT THOSE WORDS OF YOURS ARE POWERFUL!!!!!!

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” -Proverbs 12:25

Isn’t that the truth!  Have you ever had a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” and then someone comes along and tells you that they appreciate you?  Maybe you received a hug or a high-five or a smile, that’s cool too….ENCOURAGEMENT DOESN’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE VERBAL…..JUST FULL OF LOVE.

So today, I ENCOURAGE you to be an ENCOURAGEMENT to somebody, anybody…..I’ll try right along with you.

In a strange way, as we lift others up, we become empowered ourselves.  I think God designed it that way.

 

God Bless,

Paul